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Report finds retail in holding pattern, identifies major trends

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — The retail sector continues to tentatively edge toward recovery, buoyed by a strong start to the holiday shopping season; but several obstacles stand in the way of sustained progress in 2012, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s "North America Year-end Retail Outlook."

“Everyone, including consumers, is in a continued wait-and-see mode, delaying major buying and investment decisions until they see how several dynamics play out, including the elections next year," Jones Lang LaSalle Retail president and CEO Greg Maloney said. "Until we have some market certainty in the U.S. and overseas, plus sustained high levels of consumer confidence, driven by higher paychecks, a stronger stock market and an improved housing market, a robust recovery, will elude the retail sector."

One of the major trends impacting retail identified in the report is the growing prevalence of "Web-influenced sales," whereby are consumers researching products online, reading reviews and searching for the local best deals. The attractiveness of this practice lies in consumers’ desire for immediate gratification as well as the ability to save on shipping costs by buying locally in-store.

It’s estimated that web-influenced sales will generate almost $1.13 trillion in U.S. sales this year and, by 2015, will represent approximately 44% of total retail sales, or $1.55 trillion. Moreover, even though e-commerce sales are growing at a fast clip (10% annually), cross-channel commerce is growing even more rapidly, and is estimated to grow to five times the e-commerce market by 2015.

"To survive in the long-term, local retailers will have to ensure their products show up online, that the site reflects accurate availability, and that the online and in-store experiences are as seamless as possible," said Lew Kornberg, managing director of corporate retail solutions at Jones Lang LaSalle. "The rewards are direct — not only do shoppers come in for the researched product, they also stick around to buy other items once in-store."

Forrester Research reported that 45% of shoppers interviewed said they bought extra items once in a store, spending, on average, $154 on additional purchases.

Other major trends include:

  • Consumers’ increased reliance on their smartphones and tablets as an in-store shopping companion will motivate retailers to improve their mobile retail websites and capabilities and add mobile loyalty programs;

  • Amazon.com’s entrance into the designer fashion market with high-end fashion items, an online style guide and fashion recommendations based on previous choices will raise the stakes in this sector as the online retailer giant leverages its easy-to-shop, hassle-free reputation with fashion-forward consumers, eBay also launched its fashion outlet this year, offering savings up to 70%; and

  • Consumers are splitting their grocery budget and time among several types of food retailers, from wholesale clubs to organic supermarkets to regular grocery stores. Mid-market chains, most squeezed by this trend, are responding by adopting one of two strategies — upgrading their shopping experience with increased organic selections or focusing on bargains.

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More than half of consumers use their smartphones when shopping

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Verve Wireless, a mobile advertising company, on Thursday announced the results of a study conducted across the 1,300 mobile publishers that use the Verve advertising platform. The study reinforces that consumers and their smartphones are inseparable when it comes to shopping.

According to the survey, more than 60% of respondents used their smartphone for shopping one or more times each month. Almost half of those consumers used their smartphone to look up information on price, followed by product information (24%), reviews (14%) and where to buy (14%).

"The results substantiate what our advertising partners have known for a while: that mobile is an essential part of any retailer’s advertising plan," stated Greg Hallinan, chief marketing officer of Verve Wireless. "There is a growing demographic of consumers who rely on their mobile device to help them make decisions in the aisles of brick-and-mortar stores, as well as while shopping online. The advertiser who meets them there will win the sale."

The top three product categories shopped for on smartphones were electronics (51%), entertainment (50%) and books (45%). The top three retailers users accessed on their mobile device (tablet and smartphone) were Amazon (63%), eBay (37%) and Target (35%).

The survey was conducted over an eight-week period across the Verve Network. To download the study, click here.

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New line of home cleaning products hits Best Buy shelves

BY Rozanne Gelbinovich

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Whirlpool Corp. is launching Affresh Cleaners, a new line of advanced home cleaning products now available at Best Buy stores nationwide.

"Keeping the kitchen clean has historically been a big chore, so we designed the new line of Affresh Cleaners to combat everyday spills and residue while making cleaning simple," said Wendeline Ortiz, brand manager of Affresh Cleaners.

The new line includes:

  • Affresh kitchen and appliance cleaner: This citrus-scented cleaner safely removes everyday food spills and stuck-on residue from inside microwaves and refrigerators, as well as such small appliances as blenders, toasters and mixers;
  • Affresh stainless steel cleaner: Plum-scented, this cleaner removes fingerprints, smudges and residue left behind from daily use; and
  • Affresh cooktop cleaner, which works to effectively clean glass, ceramic and porcelain cooktops, and removes even the toughest baked-on residue, according to the company.

The complete line of Affresh Cleaners are available nationwide in more than 1,100 Best Buy stores, on BestBuy.com and at select local grocery stores. Visit Affresh.com for more information.

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