Lululemon, Sephora and Gap Ranked Among Best Retailers Meeting New Consumer Expectations

As retailers continue to make adjustments to meet evolving consumer expectations after an unprecedented year, a new report by Retail Zipline and Coyle Hospitality Group sought to understand how shoppers felt about the changes. The researchers evaluated 89 retail brands in the U.S. and Canada across five categories including speed and convenience, signage, health and safety, sales execution and holiday readiness.

Overall, the study served to find that the majority of retailers evaluated met consumer expectations around health and safety — a very important element of the new in-store experience. In evaluations, 82 percent of retailers provided reminders to maintain social distancing, 76 percent provided shoppers with an experience where they felt safe, 80 percent provided contactless payment options and 79 percent had hand sanitizer available in-store.

Further, shoppers determined that most were following mask-wearing guidelines, and reported that 95 percent of all store associates were observed to be wearing masks at all times and 91 percent of customers were observed to be wearing masks at all times.

However, shoppers told the companies they found other environmental factors lacking and rated only 24 percent of retailers as providing a “festive” environment during the holiday season, and only 36 percent of retailers were determined to provide clear and visible signage for holiday hours. At the same time, shoppers reported a 40 percent rate of moderating occupancy and limiting crowding in-store.

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Notably, the report found geographic differences in health and safety responses by retailers and consumers. In fact, stores in New York, California and Canada were ranked as taking “greater precautions” compared to states in the interior U.S. In fact, while 85 percent of shoppers said they felt “very safe” while shopping in New York, California and Canada, only 67 percent said the same while shopping in the interior U.S.

According to the authors of the report, the study found that beauty and apparel brands outperformed other retail categories by 26 percent with the most notable differences showing in sales execution and signage. The top-performing retailer overall was Maurices, followed by Hy-Vee, Disney Store, Gap Inc., Build-a-Bear, Macy’s, Ikea, Sephora, Lululemon and Casey’s.

Other correlations between top-performing retailers included investments in communications technology. While authors of the report said they found retailers that utilized software solutions ranked higher in every category it was especially vital in the speed and convenience and sales execution categories.

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