people shopping in mall surrounded by holiday lights

The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time, and at SPAR, we want to celebrate with you! Congratulations on making it through the busy holiday shopping season. We hope your store thrived throughout December and all of 2019, and will continue to do so in 2020. With this new decade might come new goals, and we want to help you achieve them. One of the best ways to stay ahead is to stay up to date, so keep reading for a recap of some of the most interesting retail news stories we came across during the final weeks of 2019.

Walmart Expands Alcohol Offerings

We know that we talked about Walmart a lot in 2019, but over and over again they have been making changes and updates that have put them at the forefront of retail news. This time, they’re overhauling their alcohol offerings, due to consumer demands for more premium options. The VP of adult beverages for Walmart, Jason Fremstad, said: “There’s been a significant shift in our assortment this year to make sure that we are not just taking care of our customers with all the core offerings they expect, but really getting into that premium and innovative assortment that we’re not really known for at this point.” Walmart shoppers were always able to find standard domestic alcohol brands in-store, but the new additions include craft beers, hard seltzers, seasonal beers, high-end wines and spirits, and more. The company has been conducting meetings with local and national craft beer suppliers, and they plan on providing local options based specifically on each store’s location. This overhaul will continue into 2020, and is very likely to evolve over time depending on customer interests.

Toys “R” Us Returns with NJ Store

After a whirlwind of news that ended with Toys “R” Us filing for bankruptcy and closing its doors in 2018, the toy retailer returned in December 2019, opening its first new store in Paramus, NJ. This isn’t just your average toy store though- the brand’s new parent company, Tru Kids, has been focused on creating an experience through each visit, rather than just having the location function as a normal toy store. For example, the Paramus location is home to an in-store treehouse, a reading space, and a cinema. Shoppers can choose from a selection of approximately 1,500 items, but via in-store technology, the company’s entire catalog of 15,000 items is available for purchase. The aim of these new locations is to be smaller than the original Toys “R” Us stores, but more engaging, allowing kids of all ages to have in-store experiences that go beyond simply picking a toy off the shelf. Further, it has been reported that the new company has struck a deal with Target to do the ecommerce fulfillment of these orders.

Nike Debuts Modest Swimwear Collection

Nike recently launched a new swimwear collection that is appealing to many, as it is designed for athletes and women who wear a hijab. The Nike Victory Swim Collection includes two different options – a full-body swimsuit or individual pieces that can be worn together, such as a swimming hijab, a top, and leggings. Nike said that “too often, swimwear represented a barrier, rather than a conduit to enjoying the water,” specifically for athletes who require full coverage while swimming. While total-coverage swimwear did exist before Nike’s new line, the company found that these designs did not provide optimal mobility and were often too heavy and overly-layered. Through phases of consumer focus groups, Nike designed the new swimsuits to be fluid and comfortable, with a built-in vent system inspired by aquatic mammals (like sharks). Although ideal for Muslim women, the suit was designed for anyone looking for a more modest option, and the collection will be available starting February 2, 2020. 

SPAR’s Take

As has been a theme throughout 2019 – change is the new normal. What is perhaps the most interesting development for the year has been how retailers are getting better and faster at changing. Historically this is a business sector that has been very resistant and low to change. Walmart selling alcohol – and making is customer forward is the easy part. The portion that stands out in this announcement is – the push for “Premium.” Walmart decided they wanted to attract a higher end consumer, have focused on it, and now it is happening. Toys-R-Us returning to retail is good news for everyone. When they went out of business in 2018 it was felt across many companies – SPAR being one of them. “New” retailers are always a welcome addition – however, I believe they have got it right on the approach – no category plays better with Experiential Retail that TRU. However, the biggest part of the news is the partnership with Target – they simply would never have the scale to compete with them. So, in a battle within the category with Walmart and Amazon – partnering was the right move. And finally, the move by Nike is as much about the marketing effect of the move as it is the product. Of course there is a need for the line – but one could question if the need for those product sales actually outweighs the PR benefit of launching the line. You can make your own decision on that one.

Reach Retail Excellence in 2020 with SPAR

At SPAR, we want to help you start off the new decade right in terms of your store. We are experts in retail merchandising, and we proudly offer services that include assembly and installation, merchandising solutions, programmatic services, store sets and remodels, and much more. We are a global leader in retail merchandising, with over 50 years of domestic and international success across six continents. Who better to turn to to help your store thrive? We invest unmatched dedication into each project we work on, and we’re proud to call each client we work with a true partner. Please contact us today to learn more about everything SPAR can do for you.