How Retail is Bringing Consumers Back

Big store concepts are helping retailers lure customers back into their stores.
Dick's climbing wall

Brands such as LEGO and Dick’s Sporting Goods have created retail experiences that bring out the desire to hit brick-and-mortar shops with more than just the promise of a purchase, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Competing against e-commerce, retailers are trying to bring back shoppers and increase foot traffic after the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the industry and pushed consumers online. Many of the new store concepts include immersive experiences, such as the Harry Potter flagship store in New York, or, in the case of Dick’s Sporting Goods, a store with multiple sports-related interactive areas. Dick’s launched its House of Sport store in Rochester, N.Y., complete with a running track, climbing wall, outdoor turf field and high-tech batting cage. The store will be able to host sporting events and become a hub for athletes. Dick’s has already opened a second location in Knoxville, Tenn.

“The bar for customers, spending their time or money or whatever to go somewhere, just keeps being raised,” Steve Dennis, president of retail consulting firm SageBerry Consulting, told the WSJ. 

Retailers hope the new experiential store concepts will offer enough innovation to bring consumers back in their doors. Already, things are looking up. Physical retail sales around the world will grow 6% in 2021, after dropping 2.8% in 2020, the WSJ reported. However, global e-commerce sales are expected to capture more of total retail sales compared to 2020, which were significantly higher than the 2019 share.

Another brand debuting innovations is LEGO, which opened a new flagship store in New York this past June. Technological innovations in the store integrate traditional toys and augmented reality, with a 20-minute experience known as the Brick Lab. Customers can create LEGO models with the toy pieces before seeing them brought to life in a virtual space. The connected play brings together the physical and digital worlds.

The innovations across the industry reflect retailers’ recognition that consumers are looking for more than a traditional retail experience. After spending more time at home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers want to feel special when they re-enter stores.