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Retail businesses of all varieties have suffered bruising financial losses for several years in a row, bolstered by declining in-store sales, increased competition and shifting consumer demands. In one of the more visible results of this trend, malls and large department stores are quickly becoming a thing of the past – companies that own and manage retail properties have seen share prices and book value fall dramatically, The Financial Times reported. To attempt a recovery, some of these companies are now taking a page out of the C-store playbook, building smaller locations with a focus on convenience.
CSP Magazine reported that a number of name-brand retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Kroger have begun opening small-format concept stores in select markets as part of an experiment with new business models. The most obvious aim of these stores is to serve as a worthy alternative to e-commerce giants like Amazon, which have overtaken the market share of many of these traditional retailers.
By mirroring the design and function of a typical C-store, these small-format locations may also serve as direct competitors to established fuel retailers, too. The similarities between the new concepts and most c-stores are hard to ignore:
- Kroger, a national grocery chain, began opening a brand of convenience location it calls "Fresh Eats MKT." The store combines fuel sales and packaged food and beverage items with a drive-thru pharmacy and a coffee shop. The market also carries more conventional grocery items including meat, bulk nuts and wine and beer.
- Wal-Mart opened a temporary storefront in New York City specifically to promote its newly acquired e-commerce service, Jet.com. The location is actually situated within a pop-up storefront that continuously revolves its retail offerings – Wal-Mart does not own the shop itself.
- Target announced plans to open 40 redesigned stores later this year. These revamped locations will emphasize convenience with prepared food options and self-checkout lanes.
A common thread through many of these experimental openings is a convergence with online shopping. Several of these stores will double as a pickup location for customers who purchase items online. These developments point to a sizable shift in the retail order, one that established C-stores and fuel retailers would do well to imitate.
Downstream Petroleum News provided by FireStream WorldWide, intuitively automated software solutions for the downstream petroleum industry. Go see a one-minute video to see how Ascend Retail can give a competitive edge to your C-Store operation.