Brick and mortar retail is alive in 2022, with more than double the number of new openings compared to store closures in the first seven months of this year. Coresight Research reports 4,432 new store openings versus 1,954 store closures, a net gain of more than 49 million square feet of new retail space.
Store closures have slowed since the same period in 2021, when retailers announced 4,130 closures. Store expansion also slowed from a year earlier, with 4,554 new store announcements.
Analysts said many retailers are trying to right store inventory, which could mean a mix of closures and openings. Retailers are also experimenting with new formats as shopping behavior continues to evolve.
Gap-owned athleisure specialty retailer Athleta is among those adding stores in 2022. Athleta said it is on track to open up to 40 new locations this year, including its first two outlet stores in Chicago this summer and in Leesburg, Virginia, planned to open this fall. The outlet locations aim to reach new customers who value casual wear.
“Our new outlet stores are deliberately designed to differentiate themselves from traditional outlet and clearance stores and help increase customer acquisition and brand awareness for Athleta,” said Mary Beth Laughton, CEO.
The off-price retail sector is also expanding, with more stores this year. TJX announced plans to open 150 new TJ Maxx stores in the United States in 2022 on a base of nearly 4,700 stores. Burlington plans to open 90 new stores on a base of approximately 840 stores and Ross Stores plans to open 75 Ross Dress for Less stores and 25 of DD’s Discount banners this year on a total of more than 1,900 stores. Ross opened 65 US stores last year.
Earlier this year, discounter Five Below outlined an aggressive plan for new stores with 1,000 new locations by 2025. The plans called for between 375 and 400 new brick-and-mortar stores this year and next, with the rest of the stores set to open in 2024 Walmart executive Joel Anderson is the CEO of Five Below. He said the company was well positioned in June from an inventory standpoint, with improved inventories and accelerating summer and back-to-school earnings.
“With the planned new openings and renovations this year, we are on track to end the year with almost half of our stores in the new Five Beyond format. We take advantage of real-time opportunities in the marketplace, including commodities and real estate, as we explore new products and services that embody life’s rituals and coming-of-age milestones,” Anderson said.
He said the macro environment looks challenging into 2022. Coresight CEO Deborah Weinswig said discounters like Five Below should be in a strong position when the economy slows.
“Budget-conscious shoppers can still feel good about finding bargains at $5,” Weinswig said.
The dollar store segment continues to lead the retail sector in new store announcements this year. Dollar General, based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, plans to open 1,102 stores this year. This corresponds to 11.7 million new square meters of retail space. Dollar General is also experimenting with a new format called Popshelf, a concept that offers accessories, decor, cosmetics, party favors, and home supplies priced at $5 or under. The first 30 Popshelf stores opened last year, with more than 200 new locations this year.
Virginia-based Dollar Tree also has a growth plan to add 590 new stores this year with 800 Family Dollar renovations. Dollar Tree is experimenting with a family dollar-dollar tree combo format in rural areas of southern Arkansas like Lake Village and Hope. The company said 350 new Family Dollar Stores would be the combo format.
Walmart is also experimenting with a new store format in a partnership with hospitality group Getaway for small convenience stores in campgrounds across the country. The first Walmart general store is slated to open in September in Wimberly, Texas, just south of Austin. Walmart said the partnership also plans to open general stores in Moodus, Conn., Running Springs, Calif., Roscoe, NY, and Osceola, Mo.
The “General Stores” concept will be in small wooden shacks with pitched roofs on wheels. Walmart’s name and Starburst logo are in yellow, in smaller print, below the signage that reads The General Store. The store’s tote bags say “Quality Goods, Great Outdoors” with Walmart in smaller type. Inside are rustic wooden shelves with a small, heavily curated selection of goods.
“Walmart’s partnership with Getaway advances our mission of helping people live better, no matter where they are,” said Casey Schlaybaugh, vice president of brand marketing at Walmart US encouraging them to spend more time with those who matter most to them are.”
Items sold at The General Store are also sold on Walmart.com through a dedicated Getaway shopping page. And those who visit Outpost next year will get a free trial of the retailer’s membership program, Walmart+, which the retailer announced on July 28.
“By partnering with Walmart, we can expand our efforts to a larger audience and offer our guests more free time by helping them prepare for their stay and enjoy the comforts of nature once they arrive,” said Carlos Becil, Chief Experience Officer at Getaway.
Discount chain Big Lots also plans to open 50 new stores this year, including one in Rogers at 210 S. Promenade Blvd. Like many of the Big Lots locations recently planned for this year, the Rogers location, which opened in May, is a new format offering furniture and fixtures, including patios and other outdoor items. The new format does not sell consumables, fashion, or health and beauty aids like a traditional big-lot format. The company has around 1,400 stores in 47 states.
Big Lots typically sell closeouts at a reduced price to traditional retailers. The chain has struggled with inventory shortages amid supply chain challenges in recent years, but said it will continue to invest in the new format, adding 500 stores by 2030.
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