Mobile Tech and Retailing Continue to Meld, Creating Retail Real Estate Trend
In our last few blog posts, we’ve been sharing input from the store managers who participated in Levin’s 2013 post-holiday Retail Sentiment Survey. The Surveys are conducted three times each year and the analysis consistently reveals a depth of insight. In the past two posts, we shared highlights from this Survey, with the spotlight on holiday sales performance, year-to-year sales volume, the impact of December’s weather, in-store traffic, and peak selling periods in the 2013 holiday season – the latter pointing to an emerging retail real estate trend.
This post spotlights store managers’ responses to the continued integration of technology into the retail consumer experience and their plans for leveraging the mobile platform in their own brick-and-mortar environments in 2014.
As smartphones proliferate (well over half of U.S. mobile subscribers are smartphone enabled, with that number concentrated among affluent adults) and as consumers integrate their phones into offline shopping, retailers are jumping on the mobile bandwagon. And they are not overlooking tablets, which are in the hands of one out of three Americans. Store managers in Levin’s portfolio are no exception to this move to mobile, with 54.9 percent of survey respondents saying they will add or increase the use of mobile technology in 2014.
Mobile brings retailers a variety of opportunities for customer service from offering checkout alternatives to obtaining product information and availability to couponing to geo-targeted mobile marketing. It’s fitting that these devices have earned the name “the silent salesperson.” Consumers are using smartphones as a research tool to find products, compare pricing and make purchases. A recent study by comScore/PayPal showed 55.0 percent of smartphone owners are doing so at brick-and-mortar stores, and retailers are beginning to leverage in-store mobile marketing to their advantage. Mobile is an area well worth watching, one that’s certain to impact retail real estate trends in 2014.
Survey Respondents Say the Big Picture Looks Bright
The attitude of store managers participating in our Survey reflects those of mainstream American businesses. The big picture looks solid, they told us. Stronger overall economic growth and greater fiscal certainty is bolstering consumer confidence and ultimately spending. Those factors are mirrored in a corresponding confidence among retailers who are showing a stepped-up interest in retail leasing from national, local and franchise companies across broad categories.
Our next Retail Sentiment Survey will be conducted in late May, gauging mid-year performance. We’ll be sharing the highlights with you here on this blog.