Experiential retail, which of late has meant experimental retail, has carried the industry into the realm of merchandise-free (or merchandise-light) shops. More major brands, including Nordstrom, Office Depot and DSW, are replacing what would be selling space with activities and services, from clothing alterations to tech support to a vending machine-like shoe retriever.
They have to. With nearly 4,000 stores projected to close in 2018, in addition to a record-breaking 8,000 closures in 2017, retailers must change how they operate at a fundamental level — or risk more operational losses.
But are wow-factor attractions enough to keep shoppers returning? In the increasingly stunt-performance arena of retail, are shoevators and nap nooks mesmerizing enough to generate loyalty, like Evel Knievel did, or are they simply one-act bearded ladies?