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Refreshing Retail - Issue #11

January 2024
Mike Jordan, Big V Property Group Director of Research

Shoppers Turned Out in Stores & Online in 2023

  • CNBC/Retail Monitor: Holiday ’23 sales up nearly 3.5% Read More >>
  • Adobe: E-commerce up 5% to $222 billion Read More >>
  • Mastercard: US Shoppers increased spending 3.1% as many waited for last-minute bargains: Read More >>

Returns Pile Up as More Shoppers Buy Online

  • NRF estimates over $743 billion of merchandise was returned in 2023
  • Over 13% of those returns were likely fraudulent
  • Many retailers are putting new rules in place to discourage excess returns Read More >>
Sources: Retail Dive, Chain Store Age, RetailStat
BJ’s Wholesale Club opened 4 stores in the past 6 weeks, including its first location in Alabama (in Madison), in addition to new stores in Florida, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Boot Barn plans to open an additional 26 stores in the final two quarters of its fiscal year. CEO Jim Conroy also reiterated plans for an aggressive long term expansion plan that will eventually see the chain grow to over 900 stores in the US, up from 371 at present.
Buy Buy Baby is planning a comeback. Dream on Me, a New Jersey based baby goods manufacturer that bought the rights to the brand during Bed Bath & Beyond’s bankruptcy process, reopened 11 east coast stores prior to the holiday season and has said it sees the chain growing again to include more than 100 locations in the next three years.
Conn’s has purchased Southern furniture chain WS Badcock and will operate the business as a wholly owned subsidiary. Badcock operates 380 stores in 8 states, the majority of which are franchised in addition to 65 corporate locations.
Costco employees in Norfolk, Virginia recently voted to join the Teamsters union after feeling that the company was not properly addressing concerns about working conditions at the store. The company responded in a letter from both outgoing CEO Craig Jelinek and incoming CEO Ron Vachris that while they were “disappointed” in the decision, they supported the workers right to form the union and saw the move as a “failure on [their] part.”
Dutch Bros Coffee has no plans to slow down the company’s rapid growth in 2024. The drive-thru coffee chain is planning roughly 160 new stores this year, roughly on par with their growth in 2023. The company wants to get to new markets before deepening its presence in its existing footprint and will open its first Florida locations this year.
The Knitwell Group will add Chico’s, White House Black Market, and Soma to its portfolio, following Chico’s acquisition by private equity firm Sycamore Partners. Sycamore formed Knitwell last year following their purchase of former Ascena Group brands Ann Taylor, Talbots, Loft, and Lane Bryant.
Mango, a fashion retailer based in Spain, is planning on expanding its US presence. As part of its global strategy to have 500 new stores open over the next 2 years, the company stated they plan to have at least 40 U.S. stores open in 2024 (tripling its store count from 2022), which would make the US a top 5 market for the brand. New markets planned for 2024 include Philadelphia and Washington DC.
Publix has opened its first store in Kentucky this month, marking the furthest north the renowned Florida chain has ventured to date. The store is located at Terra Crossing Shopping Center in Louisville and will be followed by 5 additional stores in the state, including Lexington and Walton (near Cincinnati).
Sprouts has announced 7 new stores opening in the first quarter of 2024 including locations in Florida, Maryland, California, and Texas. The company also announced plans to more than double its presence in the Philadelphia market with 6 new stores planned to open in the area over the next 2 years.

With the new year upon us, it’s worth looking at what changes and challenges will be facing retailers and consumers in 2024. With that in mind, here are a few articles that look at the shape of shopping to come:

  • Fitch: Rising headwinds facing consumers in 2024 Read More >>
  • Retail Dive: 7 Retail Trends to Watch Read More >>
  • Grocery Dive: 8 Trends That Will Shape the Grocery Industry Read More >>

As restaurant sales continue to climb even in the face of inflation and shaky consumer confidence, one of the biggest factors “driving” the surge has been restaurant owner’s renewed zeal for the drive thru lane. Many large chains are redesigning their prototypes to be more accommodating to take out orders and de-emphasizing the dining room. Dine-in orders at fast food restaurants are down 47% from where they were pre-pandemic, while the drive-thru lane accounts for 2/3rds of all fast food revenue. Find out more in this piece by Kim Severson of the New York Times. Read More >>

Video of the Month: Trader Joe’s cult-like following may not make sense for the uninitiated, but to those in the know it’s a shopping experience unlike any other. Find out how this California company hit on a formula for success by zigging while the rest of the industry zagged in this video by Weird History Watch here >>

Looking back at retail in 2023, the year provided the first true look at what consumer habits have permanently changed since the pandemic and what types of spending consumers are picking back up where they left off. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the world of cinema.

Though 2023’s box office haul of $9 billion still falls short of 2019’s Avengers driven record by almost 20%, it still represents a significant comeback for moviegoing. While the total fell short, there were 17 fewer films released last year than in 2019. Meanwhile, both Barbie and The Super Mario Bros. Movie eclipsed $1 billion each globally, while Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour brought in $200 million on its own despite limited showtimes and theater distribution.

What’s clear is that if film studios provide content that people want to see, they will return to the theaters. Streaming content at home is nice, but what movies like Barbie and Super Mario (along with Wonka and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among others) brought to the table was a fresh take on well-known brands that helped bring people together in an era where culture has never felt more fragmented and divided. Meanwhile, Oppenheimer’s $326 million domestic box office showed that serious, original fare still has a place in multiplexes after years of superhero sequels had seemed to divert so much of Hollywood’s creative energy.

Theaters themselves have also evolved. And while reclining seats and upscale dining may make a night at the movies cost a few bucks more than in years past, it is still one of the most economical entertainment options available and provides an experience that simply can’t be replicated at home. Regal Cinemas recent exit from bankruptcy with a cleaned-up balance sheet should ensure that theater operators will continue to invest in the experience. The question is, will Hollywood keep giving us product that we want to see?

Mike Jordan
Listen to the Song of the Month

The year in music for 2024 is getting off to a great start with this new single from Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee project. From her beginnings in punk bands to performing with Wynonna Judd and covering Lucinda Williams on the Ryman stage, Katie’s evolution as a singer and songwriter is evident on “Right Back To It” where she’s joined by North Carolina-based guitarist MJ Lenderman. Together, they have created a sound as sweet as sweet tea and harmonies that will warm you like a blanket in winter. Waxahatchee’s 6th album Tiger’s Blood is out March 22nd. Listen here >>

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