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Free yoga classes. Interactive cooking tutorials. Virtual reality mirrors.
With foot traffic continuing down a slippery slide, retailers are finding creative ways to get consumers into their stores.
Yet not all bricks-and-mortar players have seen their traffic dissipate at the expense of online shopping. Instead, a handful of retailers have managed to keep consumers filing into their shops.
Whether it's by improving their in-store experience, constantly changing the merchandise or simply having an in-demand item, these retailers have defied the industry trend.
Wal-Mart's U.S. business is in the midst of a major turnaround. The division recorded its seventh-straight traffic increase during the latest quarter, helping boost its same-store sales 1.6 percent. Shoppers have responded to the company's work to keep more items in stock, sell fresher produce, and speed up the time spent waiting at the checkout counter.
The burgeoning beauty retailer is in growth mode. In addition to cutting the ribbon on 100 new stores by the end of its fiscal year, Ulta has a number of traffic-driving measures in place. They include adding new brands to its shelves, growing its loyalty program and incorporating salon services into its shops.
The merchandise mix at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods is constantly changing — giving consumers a reason to visit often. An increase in footfall was the main driver behind their parent company TJX's 4 percent same-store sales gain in the second quarter. It was the seventh-straight three-month period that traffic powered its comparable-sales increase, CEO Ernie Herrman said.
Like TJX, fellow off-price retailer Ross Stores offers shoppers a treasure hunt experience. During the latest quarter, its 4 percent same-store sales gain was driven by an increase in both traffic and the average number of items in each shopper's basket.
Though Burlington is the smallest of the three major off-price chains, it too logged another quarter of traffic growth in the recently ended three-month period. The company has recorded positive traffic in seven of the last eight quarters.
Thanks to a solid housing market, the world's largest home improvement retailer has seen a lift from consumers funneling money into their living spaces. Home Depot has also finetuned its in-store execution, including an ability to change up its merchandise to respond to weather trends. The number of customer transactions, often used as a proxy for traffic, rose at Home Depot during the fiscal second quarter.
Given its membership-based model, Costco's shoppers are some of the most loyal. Even as the pace of its traffic growth has slowed modestly this year, it's still on the rise. The warehouse retailer has been grappling with lower gas prices, foreign exchange headwinds and a transition away from American Express to Visa-branded credit cards.
The major dollar stores just reported one of their weakest quarters in recent memory. Yet with Dollar Tree's comparable sales still rose 1.2 percent, with an increase in foot traffic contributing to its gain.
There are only a few products consumers are willing to line up for. On a conference call with analysts last month, Foot Locker CEO Dick Johnson said the sneakers sold in his stores are some of them. The executive likened major footwear launches to the buzz around major Apple debuts. They're a key reason why sluggish mall traffic isn't a big concern for his company, he said.
American Eagle's lingerie brand refuses to Photoshop the young women in its ads. That body-positive message has been well received among shoppers, contributing to the label's 24 percent same-store sales increase during the second quarter. A rise in traffic contributed to that growth.
Michaels last month lowered its comparable-sales forecast for the current fiscal year. Yet the crafting retailer, which has seen a lift from the do-it-yourself movement, still managed to grow its traffic during the second quarter.