Despite Slowdown in Economy, Retailers Improvise, Adapt and Overcome
The year 2012 will continue to see a slowdown in growth and expansion of brick and mortar stores in the US. Major contributors are the slow recovery of the economy and the up surging trend of online and mobile shopping. According to the Chain Store Guide, the month of June brought 249 store closings nationwide but also the addition of 80 new store openings. Supermarkets gained the largest number of new stores openings (32) nationwide and Category Killers specializing in Housewares/Giftware lost the largest number of stores (106).
The chains losing the most stores nationwide were Champs (49), Kirkland’s (66), Party Land (31) and Restoration Hardware (40). The Midwest was the biggest loser with 60 stores closings with the state of Ohio losing the most stores (14) in this region. Store Chains gaining the most new stores were Petco (10), Walgreens (13) and Walmart (11). The Atlantic recorded the biggest gain of 19 new store openings in this region. North Carolina was the biggest winner gaining 8 of the new 19 stores in the Atlantic Region.
Though Retail Chains continue to downsize their physical retail operations, industry trends indicates Retailers are will improvise, adapt, and overcome to meet the needs of their customers. An increasing number of retailers are improvising by going smaller. Of the eleven Wal-mart new store openings in June, seven were Wal-Mart Neighborhood Stores. These grocery stores are about 29,000 square feet compared with a 142,000-square-foot supercenter. Lower square footage makes for lower construction and remodeling costs as well as less overhead costs. Other retailers testing smaller concepts include Best Buy, Target, Ace Hardware, Meijer, Blockbuster, Cabela's, Ann Taylor, Gap, Kohl's, Lowe's and Sports Authority.
As reported by Staffing Industry Analysts, Temps Represented a Chunk of Job Gains in June by adding almost a third of the 80,000 total nonfarm jobs in the US. Just as with other Industries, Retailers are adapting to economy pressures by using Temporary Staffing Agencies. Temp Labor helps alleviate the peaks and valleys of the seasonal hiring needs, new store set-ups and remodels. Using Temp Labor from a Retail Staffing Agency, such as Set and Service Reousrces, reduces onboarding time since workers are experienced and ready to hit the sales floor running.
Retailers continue to overcome. Snagajob reported retail job ads placed in June 2012 on their Career Website saw a nationwide increase of 8% over May 2012. Employers added an additional 8600 jobs in June for a total of 109,525 job opportunities. Read the full details here. To compete with online and mobile shopping, retailers are using new technology from Virtual fitting rooms to Mobile Apps that can deliver coupons, answer questions and track preferences.
With old and new innovations, Retailers will continue to drive the economic recovery by improvising, adapting and overcoming. Smaller stores, using temp labor, hiring and new technology will all play a part in the Retailers survival and success of 2012.