During a three-hour webinar yesterday, foot traffic analyst Placer.ai, itself a big winner over the past year, asked panelists to name the retail brands they thought conquered the pandemic. Topping the list were Target and Best Buy.
“Best Buy was ahead of the curve. They really nailed it. They used the Geek Squad as a connectivity squad at a low price point,” said Sandy Sigal, CEO of Newmark Merrill, which owns and operates more than 75 retail centers in California, Colorado, Illinois, and Washington.
“Brands that let people discover new things like Five Below, Ross’s, and Marshall’s inspired shoppers. Memory-making is something we do physically that they don’t do online,” Sigal said.
Daniel Taub, senior VP and director of retail at Marcus & Millichap looked favorably upon Target.
“Target invested billions in physical retail that was paying off with huge dividends before COVID happened,” he said. “They were early into BOPIS and made stores more appealing, creating multiple store formats to cater to target audiences. They have great merchandise and operations.”
Dollar stores, too, won glowing praise from Sigal, who said their traffic went “absolutely crazy” at his centers during the height of the pandemic.
“This 'retail is dead' narrative that Walmart was going to kill everybody, that the internet was going to kill everybody, is what we’ve heard for years,” Sigal said. “COVID came along and provided the narrative that, even if you raise friction to the level that you’d be safer at home and much more at risk if you went outside, a dramatic number of people still went out and shopped. The desire to connect and the human DNA that says we’re hunter-gatherers is a real thing.”