Eyeing 2022 trends from new store launches

This month, columnist David Orgel takes a look at retailers continuing to push the envelope on store development for consumers’ changing needs.
David Orgel
Principal, David Orgel Consulting

It’s possible to see the future of retail by analyzing the latest new store launches. 

New stores and formats provide direction on where food and drug retail is headed because they are driven by the latest angles in store development, consumer behavior, technology innovation and other aspects. This is a good time to consider new directions as we look ahead to 2022.

Hy-Vee in Grimes, Iowa

Enhanced In-store Experiences
Pandemic-weary shoppers are craving unique in-store experiences as they increasingly return to physical stores. Hy-Vee’s recently launched new concept store in Grimes, Iowa, delivers on this need — and then some. This monster of a store, at about 93,000 sq. ft., contains an eye-popping number of distinctive elements that include the following:

  • A new dining concept, featuring a large, open food hall dining area;
  • All-digital shelf tags and more than 100 TVs for digital marketing;
  • Digital kiosks for ordering cakes and fresh prepared foods; and
  • A range of in-store destination areas that include DSW shoes and accessories, Joe Fresh clothing, the W Nail Bar, Pair Eyewear kiosk, and Johnson Fitness & Wellness showroom.

If all these features aren’t enough, there’s also a Hy-Vee Fast and Fresh convenience store at the southwest end of the parking lot. 

[Read more: Hy-Vee offering COVID-19 booster vaccine to eligible individuals]

Wegmans map

Creative Store Development
Retailers continue to push the envelope on store development for changing needs. Wegmans provides one of the more interesting cases as it expands into urban areas with smaller formats that leverage mixed-use development initiatives. It’s important to clarify what is meant by “small format” in the world of Wegmans. The retailer, known for large stores that surpass 100,000 sq. ft., is planning some units in the 80,000-sq.-ft. range, including for its first store in Washington, D.C. That store, set for the summer of 2022, is planned at 84,000 sq. ft., with three levels of underground parking. Also in the works are two other locations in mixed-use developments for next year and an urban site in New York City in 2023.

a car parked in a parking lot

Emphasis on Environmental Sustainability
Environmental sustainability is gaining importance at retail in various ways, from sourcing to packaging. A recently opened store by H-E-B underscores how retailers are increa-singly embracing environmental sustainability in store development.

This 90,000-sq.-ft. unit in Southwest Austin incorporates rainwater harvesting and water retention ponds, in addition to adherence to impervious cover regulations and compliance with all aquifer regulations. H-E-B also is making provisions for solar panel installation in the future.

"New retail formats address the latest angles in consumer behavior, technology and store development."

Emerging In-store Technology
One of the important 2022 trends will be the growth of in-store technology. A key example is the evolution of checkout technology by numerous retailers. A case in point is the launch of the largest Amazon Fresh store, featuring Just Walk Out technology. The 35,000-sq.-ft. store, which recently opened in Westmont, Ill., gives customers the option of skipping traditional checkouts by making use of a virtual cart enabled by the Amazon app. The technology enables customers to add items to their virtual cart as they shop, and to finish their transactions and exit the store after scanning an in-store QR code. 

[Read more: Amazon brings autonomous checkout tech to newest grocery location]

All of these new stores and formats can be considered retail labs for borrowing ideas as we move into 2022. However, retailers will need to do the hard work of figuring out which ideas are relevant for their own customer bases. Every new year seems like a puzzle waiting for the pieces to be filled in. Retailers can tap into some of these ideas to fit together puzzle pieces for their market areas.

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