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Reasons why people are in the mood to spend

  • In this Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, photo, Heather Camacuari, of Charlotte, shops for clothing at a Kohl's store in Concord, N.C. Many kinds of chains have posted strong sales, both online and at stores. A booming economy, which has shoppers spending more freely, and companies' own efforts in trying to Amazon-proof their business is driving people’s mood to spend. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton

  • In this Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, file photo cashier Liz Moore, right, checks out customers Christie Meeks, center, and Lisa Starnes, left, at a Kohl's store in Concord, N.C. Many kinds of chains have posted strong sales, both online and at stores. A booming economy, which has shoppers spending more freely, and companies' own efforts in trying to Amazon-proof their business is driving people’s mood to spend. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton

  • FILE- In this May 30, 2018, file photo, a shopper walks through the updated cosmetic department at a Target store in San Antonio. “There’s no doubt that, like others, we’re currently benefiting from a very strong consumer environment, perhaps the strongest I’ve seen in my career,” Target CEO Brian Cornell told investors. Target saw sales at established stores post the strongest growth in 13 years. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) Eric Gay

  • In this Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, photo Mark Vega, 7, left, looks inside his family's cart as parents Frankie Vega, center, and Kimberly Vega, right, shop at a Kohl's store in Concord, N.C. Many kinds of chains have posted strong sales, both online and at stores. A booming economy, which has shoppers spending more freely, and companies' own efforts in trying to Amazon-proof their business is driving people’s mood to spend. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton

  • In this Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, photo Heather Camacuari, of Charlotte, N.C., shops for clothing at a Kohl's store in Concord, N.C. Many kinds of chains have posted strong sales, both online and at stores. A booming economy, which has shoppers spending more freely, and companies' own efforts in trying to Amazon-proof their business is driving people’s mood to spend. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton

  • FILE- In this May 23, 2017, file photo, an employee adjusts a television display at a Best Buy in Cary, N.C. Many kinds of old-guard chains have posted strong sales, both online and at stores, and are raising their outlooks for the year. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File) Gerry Broome

  • In this Aug. 28, 2018, photo Luke Vega, 7, left, looks in a cart with his mother Kimberly Vega, right, as they shop at a Kohl's store in Concord, N.C. Many kinds of chains have posted strong sales, both online and at stores. A booming economy, which has shoppers spending more freely, and companies' own efforts in trying to Amazon-proof their business is driving people’s mood to spend. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton



Associated Press
Monday, September 10, 2018

The store isn’t dead for Home Depot, Kohl’s, Best Buy or Target. Many traditional chains have posted strong sales, both online and at stores, as people are in a mood to spend.

What’s driving it? A booming economy and companies’ own efforts to try to Amazon-proof their businesses. That means making their stores more pleasant, updating their websites and speeding up delivery.

The bounce is a welcome reprieve from talk of a retail apocalypse that flourished after a spate of bankruptcies. Plenty of stores are still struggling, particularly mall clothing chains like Victoria’s Secret and department stores like Sears.

Here are some of the main trends right now.

A strong economy: Shoppers are spending more freely in an economy that has recently grown at the fastest pace in nearly four years. Unemployment is near an 18-year low. Average hourly wages rose 2.7 percent in July from a year earlier.

Faster options at the store: Stores are catering better to time-conscious shoppers with delivery and pickup services that take advantage of their store networks.

Walmart has curbside grocery pickup at 1,800 stores, and is expanding its pickup towers, which serve up items ordered online within seconds. Target says it’s reduced the wait time for curbside pickup to 2 minutes. Target has also found where it’s testing same-day delivery for store shoppers the average basket size is more than $200, the highest of any service it provides.

Though Walmart has dropped mobile checkout at its namesake stores, others like Macy’s and Kroger are embracing it. Urban Outfitters says more shoppers than it expected are using self-checkout at its store in Manhattan’s Herald Square.

Revamping websites: Stores are trying to make it easier to browse and discover products online as a way to compete with shoppers accustomed to Amazon.

Walmart overhauled its website with a special emphasis on fashion and home goods, and has special sections dedicated to Lord & Taylor as part of their partnership and for the outdoor brand Moosejaw it bought last year. Consolo cited Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s as others that have made their sites easier to shop.

Powerful exclusive brands: Shoppers are responding to the brands stores have developed to differentiate themselves – and which have better profit margins.

Target has been aggressive here, particularly in clothing and home goods. The children’s clothing brand Cat & Jack generated $2 billion in sales one year after its launch in 2016.

Macy’s hopes to have its private label and exclusive brands account for 40 percent of the merchandise it offers in the next few years, up from about 30 percent. And Kohl’s teamed up with media company PopSugar on a clothing collection that will hit next month.

“The department stores that have a clear strategy and vision are going to be the clear winners,” said Greg Petro, founder and CEO of First Insight, which helps retailers set prices.