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Under The Tree For Retailers: More Efforts To Combine Online, In-Store Shopping

This holiday season, retailers are implementing strategies to draw online shoppers into stores, reward their loyalty in new ways and ensure that toys are available at every turn, according to a new report from CBRE.

Holiday Shopping
Many holiday shoppers will choose physical stores over online shopping just for the experience.

CBRE’s annual Holiday Retail Trends Guide outlines trends that will shape the season. Consumer spending growth is exceeding expectations and with a positive turn in retailer earnings over the first half of the year, holiday sales forecasts are optimistic. Retailers are expected to push their omnichannel strategies more than ever during this holiday season and encourage shoppers to buy across channels.

“A lot of it has to do with the health of the overall economy,” CBRE Vice President Michael Kendall said. “People tend to have disposable income this year. We’ve seen that with low unemployment, which is a double-edged sword. It’s difficult from the staffing perspective, but it also means people have jobs.”

Because the cost and complexity of home delivery has grown, retailers are focusing on having online orders shipped to their stores. In addition to the more traditional buy online/pick up in store model, retailers are introducing a more complex concept — buy online/ship to store.

“We’re seeing some of the doom and gloom of the whole online e-tailer, death of retail go by the wayside,” Kendall said. “Brick-and-mortar stores are trying to figure out how to capture online sales. They’re making it easy to purchase online but still get them into the store. It tends to increase sales. You’re there, so you spend time in the store and end up buying a few more things.”

CBRE Vice President of Retail Services Michael Kendall, pictured with his wife, Helen, and son, says  retailers are being selective about expanding.
CBRE Vice President of Retail Services Michael Kendall, pictured with his wife, Helen, and son

Kendall also said retailers that traditionally sold goods strictly online are looking for a physical presence in the form of pop-up stores. For example, the former Bed Bath & Beyond store at Cherry Creek Shopping Center is now a large marketplace featuring more than 200 Colorado vendors.

“That portion of the mall will be redeveloped at some point,” Kendall said. “There are a lot more creative pop-ups as opposed to just the holiday ornament guy.”

Consumers have more shopping options than ever, so retailers are forced to increase their efforts to gain and retain business. As a result, they are revamping their loyalty programs, with a shift in focus from discounts to experiential services and rewards. 

“While online shopping is a great option for the consumer prioritizing convenience, there’s an irreplaceable nostalgia associated with visiting a physical store all decked out for the holidays,” Kendall said. 

The recent bankruptcy of Toys R Us has left a substantial share in the high-growth toy category up for grabs and retailers from unexpected corners are chasing holiday toy sales. Leading retailers such as Walmart and Target are expanding their toy sections, while others that aren’t widely known as toy sellers, including Michaels, Party City and Ace Hardware, are jumping in with limited toy offerings in an effort to capture their share of the fast-growing toy category.

“Denver’s retail market is poised to fare well this holiday season as low unemployment and a strong local economy tend to translate to disposable income that can be directed toward those holiday gift purchases and experiences,” Kendall said.