Panic over if we will ever shop again in physical stores is running high. Women shopped exclusively online now for just over a year, getting used to the screen fashion and may wave adieu to physical stores. Retailers and commercial estate investors are panicking and over 360,000 jobs in retail have been lost just in UK. Are shops really dead?
It is not over till the fat lady runs
Running is the new sex as during pandemic we have learned to get our serotonin shots from our sporting activities, mitigating the fact that our ‘special’ person has just mostly been an unobtainable dream in the socially distanced lockdown.
Joy of Sex got replaced by Joy of Running so retailers are sweating to get into to pole position to meet the pent-up demand for new running shoes. Swiss sneaker brand ON, backed by Roger Federer ON, has opened a number of stores, not least in New York, capital of riverside running.
You can customise your running shoes to your very own gait diagnosed on a short run in the store itself, and it that is not enough, you can also rest your weary, post-run body on the 3D printed boulder, a copy of the real thing from Swiss Alps. What’s not to like?
If the shoe fits
Innovative fashion and sportswear brand Cole Haan is also joining the sporty party – despite having to pull IPO last year, they are back and pressing on with big stores opening program in Westfield, Santa Clara. New flagship is landing in the heart of ecom shopping mecca, Silicon Valley. Local geeks love their shops digital but they are also easily seduceable by the smell of fresh, new sneakers. Collections are called Grand Ambitions (of course, it is the Valley after all), while material science is used to create ultra light technical running gear for their Zero Grand range. Well played!
Nike going loco for local
Global already, Nike is now going hyper local and inviting you to hug your running neighbour – literally , as their new local store format, Nike Unite, is to be located at street corners in California towns like San Antonio. A bigger rollout of local rollouts is scheduled for the second part of 2021. The walls of the stores will be handed over to local running clubs, with space for photographs and trophies of local heroes and neighbourhood tournaments replacing the national heroes. Nike is playing to our new, ‘work from home’ lifestyle where 1 mile circle zone is where we probably end up spending most of our time. In tune with times, Nike!
Mixing business with pleasure
Working from home is all the rage but it does get lonely in the long run. Retailers sniffed an opportunity to provide a spot of change to home workers and offer them a dedicated “Work Pod’ in the malls.
Similar to old-style phone booths, or even Skype-booths in “WeWorks” of yore , they are self-contained work containers where you can get wi-fi, air-cleaning ventilation and work in peace but still watch people thru the glass door and feel a bit more like being a part of society. Westfield in Silicon Valley is launching Zen Pods to cater for the new home workers who need to get out more. Sign me up!
It takes two to tango
During this long pandemic we might have been using filters on Zoom to Enhance our faces for free rather than spending the usual fortune on creams and shades. But as office returns looms, at least in some partial format, our make up holiday is coming to an end. Sephora is pouncing on this chance to catch the early bird an returning office workers and is opening stores in Kohl’s venues. This is a long-term venture where Kohl customer will be exposed to Sephora brands. The thinking is to give shoppers more exciting reasons to visit the stores, on the lines of ‘strength in numbers’ and 2 reasons to visit is better than one. Two dogs do not a gazelle maketh though so the jury is still out if more is indeed more, rather than just a panic-driven alliance. However, it is inspiring to see big brands taking leadership on returns to the High Street.
Shops are not dead, they are just evolving! Calling all entrepreneurs to dive right in and invent New High Street for the post-pandemic shoppers!
Email: Eva@never.com for coaching on how to crack High Street presence
Next week: What is next for Oxford Street?