Five Below, Wawa among 10 brands to watch in 2023


A diverse lineup of retailers (and two restaurant chains) have one thing in common: They are all poised to be winners in 2023.

That’s according to a new white paper from foot traffic analytics firm, 10 Top Retail Brands to Watch in 2023. Some of the brands in the report are gaining traction in expansion strategies, others are adapting to new customer preferences, and some are reworking their pricing models to attract more shoppers.

“While each company highlighted [in the report] is implementing a slightly different approach, these 10 brands have one thing in common — they all have a winning strategy for the coming year,” the report said.

Here’s a brief recap of the 10 brands in the white paper:

1. Whataburger: The quick-serve restaurant chain, which enjoys a cult following, grew its footprint by more than 100 locations between 2019 and 2022 to 923 units, and visits have increased accordingly. October and November 2022 saw year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) visit increases of 16.5% and 5.1%.

The chain is known for staying open 24 hours a day, a significant draw at a time when more and more restaurants are closing earlier, the report noted.

The combination of Whataburger’s cult status, its new focus on expansion, and its late-night hours in the context of a shifting dining landscape all bode well for the chain heading into 2023,” said.

2. Wawa: Wawa is more than a convenience store, as anyone from the East Coast can tell you. Not only has Wawa’s overall foot traffic increased in recent years, average visits per venue have grown, as well across all seven states the company operates in. The brand is upping its store count and has ambitious plans to expand to several new states.

3. Bob’s Discount Furniture: The furniture retailer benefitted from the pandemic as people spent big on home furnishings, and the brand is keeping the momentum going.

The report noted that Bob’s October and November 2022’s Yo3Y monthly foot traffic grew 27.6% and 13.4%, respectively, while overall home decor and furnishings visits fell 16.1% and 22.2% in the same period.”

4. Dave & Buster’s: The entertainment/restaurant chain recently acquired rival Main Event Entertainment, which caters to families, complementing Dave & Buster's young adult focus.

As more people seek out unique activities, the company’s ability to reach both families and singles through the two brands should serve it well in the new year.

5. Hibbett Sports: The Alabama-based sporting goods retailer is opening stores in small and mid-sized markets to capitalize on the growth potential of underserved areas with little to no competition. The strategy appears to be paying off.  Hibbett enjoyed year-over-year growth in nearly all months in 2022.

6. Five Below: The go-to discounter for tweens and teens is a stalwart in the booming dollar and extreme discount store segment.  Five Below has been on a major growth streak recently, with monthly Yo3Y foot traffic up by double-digits for most of 2022.

Five Below is setting its sights on tripling its footprint by 2030. To that end, the company has set an ambitious target of opening another 1,000 stores by 2025.  

7. Boot Barn: The Western-focused shoe and apparel retailer has found success by tapping into underserved markets, and targeting shoppers working in industries such as farming, fishing, and forestry. Boot Barn’s appeal to niche audiences isn’t stopping the company from catering to the fashion-forward shopper, especially given the increased popularity of Wester wear. 

8. Grocery Outlet Bargain Market: The grocery chain, which gets most of products via opportunistic buying, is in prime position to benefit from cost-conscious shoppers looking to save money. Grocery Outlet has grown from 316 stores in 2019 to 425 in 2022 

9. Altar’d State: Launched in 2009, Altar’d State has evolved into a growing powerhouse in young women’s apparel and lifestyle accessories with several banners under its umbrella, including a plus-size concept and a wedding concept. Next up: a home brand.

10. Total Wine and More: The country’s largest independently owned wine, beer, and spirits retailer is well positioned for future growth. The company has seen its nationwide visits skyrocket, with Yo3Y foot traffic up by double-digits for much of 2022, and average visits per venue elevated or on par with 2019 levels.

To read the full report, click here.

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