The way that consumers and brands interact has changed drastically in 2020. Consumer behavior was already shifting, but the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the industry upside down overnight. 

What some brands thought might be trends to look forward to in another decade or so have come to pass out of necessity. How is this impacting some of the biggest retailers? 

Grocery Shopping On-Demand

When consumers were told that they couldn’t or shouldn’t leave their homes due to a deadly pandemic in early 2020, some brands quickly pivoted. USA Today reports that the newest Whole Foods stores have no coffee or salad bars. 

Instead, on-demand grocery shopping for curbside pickup and delivery has grown in popularity as customers try to make fewer trips to the store. At this particular Whole Foods store, there are no more prepared foods, but rather a place to pick up online orders. 

Consumers can also order items online, which will be delivered by Amazon drivers or bike delivery in some areas. 

Whole Foods has also opened some temporary online-only stores to keep up with the COVID-related demand. 

Grocery delivery isn’t entirely new, but it’s “new” for many consumers who hadn’t considered it until this year. Now, some have likely decided that it will be a permanent choice for getting groceries into their homes and avoiding an unpleasant trip to the store. 

Retailers Continue to Innovate

The retail apocalypse is real, but that doesn’t mean that all businesses in this space are destined to a similar fate. Those in the retail industry that have continued to innovate in the face of global changes are the ones that will survive and even thrive. 

Not everyone loves shopping online. According to a senior analyst that spoke with CNBC on the topic, both Gen Z and millennials, who are tech-savvy, still enjoy shopping in stores and can’t wait to return. 

Even retailers who do decide to devote more resources to online sales will require physical space. Their needs will just be different. Some brands might have smaller physical stores and larger spaces to house inventory and process orders. 

For example, Kohls department stores made the timely move a few years ago of shrinking the floor space in about half of its stores across the U.S. At the same time, it bolstered its digital offerings and shifted many products into backroom space, which is cheaper to maintain. 

One of the fastest-growing companies of 2020 is Tractor Supply, which reported record sales and earnings in its 2nd quarter results. The company has become incredibly popular with consumers who are tackling home projects and looking for outdoor recreation equipment like kayaks.

To serve the needs of its customers, Tractor Supply offers curbside pickup, autoship subscriptions, in-store mobile checkout, and same or next-day delivery on online purchases. The company opened 38 new stores during the first six months of 2020 and has plans for at least 40 more this year. 

Trusted Commercial Real Estate Services

If your retail business is considering moving, downsizing, expanding, or simply changing the way it uses its space, Caldwell Commercial can help. As a trusted partner to businesses throughout the Charleston, SC area, we provide leasing & sales, owner representation, property management, and development services to a long list of satisfied clients. 

Contact us today to learn more about how our services can help your business meet these changing times.