Online or Offline? Report looks at future of 13 retail categories

BY Marianne Wilson

Restaurants, off-price retailers, dollar stores and furniture outlets are likely to remain firmly in the brick-and-mortar corner even with the continued rise of online shopping.

That is according to a new report by JLL, which explores the relationship between how shoppers value goods and the way 13 retail categories will be sold.

“We found that shoppers are motivated to go either in-store or shop online based on how much time they have, if they need to touch the goods and how much money are they willing to spend," said Naveen Jaggi, president of Retail Brokerage, JLL. "The varying degrees of these values against different product types will determine how resistant they are to consolidation and migration online.”

The report found that the strongest proponents for online shopping are time constraints and time savings, such as the ability to purchase 24/7 and avoid crowds and lines. Conversely, touch and the ability to see and try on items remains a key driver for in-store purchases.

JLL determined the future outlook for the following 13 retail product categories based on consumer opinion data, store closure statistics, same-store sales growth and e-commerce penetration.

Brick-and-Mortar

The future of these categories are likely to remain entrenched in brick-and-mortar due to their ability to create experiences and joy, or thin margins that can’t absorb shipping costs.

Restaurants: are fairly protected against e-commerce penetration. The social sharing and food experience diners crave will out-weigh the convenience.

Off-priced retailers: offer a treasure hunt to consumers who want heavily slashed prices, which is not easily replicated online. E-commerce penetration is less than one percent, while same-store sales growth was more than three percent.

Dollar stores: have universal attraction and are all about saving money across all income levels. E-commerce penetration is relatively non-existent, with only a few new online entrants like Brandless and Hollar, which offer flat-rate pricing. Dollar store same-store sales growth reached nearly 2%.

Furniture stores: let shoppers test out and visualize their merchandise before buying. While e-commerce penetration is nearly 20%, this category will straddle the line of online and in-store but remain heavily focused on brick-and-mortar showrooms.

Mixed Bag of Online + In-Store

Several categories will maintain a physical store presence, but up-scaled online offerings to cater to varied shopper needs.

Grocery: continues to inch into omnichannel with several players offering delivery and pick-up options. But, 93% of consumers still prefer to inspect their own produce. With fierce competition for market share we expect even more grocers to seamlessly integrate their offerings to meet the broadest swath of eaters.

Mass merchants: are popular among consumers due to their broad selection of goods, which kept same store sales neutral. E-commerce penetration is nearly five percent but set to grow as major players invest in their online platforms while maintaining their strong store presence.

Department stores: are feeling the heat from off-price and mass merchants, and are set to consolidate and shift sales online. E-commerce penetration reached more than 13 percent, but it’s likely that some players will maintain their vast portfolio of stores and up their game online.

Apparel concepts and fast fashion: represent a unique marketplace shift – there are many store closures due to bankruptcies, but conversely a growing number of openings. More than 75% of consumers prefer to buy their apparel in-store, but we expect that retailers will continue to sync their online and in-store experiences to provide a seamless experience for their shoppers.

Children’s goods and toy stores: saw a 16% jump in e-commerce sales as online retailers in this category offer huge time savings for parents. Sales in this category will increasingly shift online, but physical stores will be essential in crafting their brand experience.

Sporting goods: retailers have faced headwinds in the last year, with five top players filing for bankruptcy closing more than 200 locations. However, more than half of consumers still want to buy sporting goods in-store which will maintain the need for physical locations.

Bought and boxed online:

Consolidation and commoditization in these categories is migrating sales primarily online.

Office supply: retailers have consolidated due to competition both online and from mass merchant retailers. This sector is expected to continue moving sales online as physical stores offer minimal experience, time and savings.

Electronic stores: that don’t offer an experience or point of differentiation are having a rough time, as e-commerce penetration in this category is nearly 10%. Stores like Apple and Best Buy that have a high-touch consumer draw will remain the outliers moving forward.

Book stores: have moved online with the highest e-commerce penetration of any category reviewed, nearly 25%. Availability of books has become commoditized, yet there remains a few independent book stores who offer in-store experiences and food and beverage options, who will stay relevant.

“In the next three years, the retail categories to watch are the ones caught in the middle between having a physical space and shifting to e-commerce,” said James Cook, director of Retail Research, JLL. “Retailers in these five categories will have to both elevate their customer experiences in-store while also building a robust online strategy.”

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FINANCE

Owner of Panera Bread and Caribou Coffee in new acquisition

BY Marianne Wilson

JAB Holding Company, the Luxembourg-based private equity firm, continues to expand its U.S. portfolio at a rapid pace. The company has entered into an agreement to buy Bruegger’s Bagels from Le Duff America, the Dallas-based parent of la Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

JAB's U.S. holdings include Peet's Coffee, Caribou Coffee, Krispy Creme, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Intelligentsia Coffee and the Keurig Green Mountain brand. Prior to Bruegger's, its most recent acquisition was Panera Bread, which it bought earlier this year in a deal valued at about $7.5 billion.

Bruegger’s operated 269 locations at the end of last year, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

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FINANCE

Discount retailer outperforms in Q2

BY Marianne Wilson

Big Lots topped Street estimates in its second quarter as shoppers continue to seek out bargains.

Net income rose 28.2 % to $29.1 million, or $0.67 per diluted share, in the quarter ended July 29, 2017, from adjusted income of $23.4 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected the company to earn $0.62 per share

Big Lot's net sales increased 1.5% to a better-than-expected $1.2 billion, which was partially impacted by a lower store count year-over-year. Same-store sales edged up 1.8%.

"Our strategy is working as evidenced by our comps in ownable categories and our consistency of delivering growth in operating profit dollars and EPS," stated Big Lots CEO David Campisi. "We are controlling what we can control and our teams are energized and excited as our new fall merchandise has begun to arrive in stores."

Furniture, seasonal and soft home are among Big Lots “ownable” categories, and the retailer has been working on a new format, or "store of the future," to better showcase them. On the chain's quarterly call, executives said the company will offer tours of its store of the future at its investor conference (in Columbus, Ohio) in September.

Big Lots increased its guidance for fiscal 2017 income to be in the range of $4.15 to $4.25 per diluted share, compared to its prior guidance of $4.05 to $4.20 per diluted share.

Big Lots operates 1,428 stores in 47 states.

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