When Mark Twain said, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” he was responding to erroneous reports of his own demise. The same quotation might, however, apply equally to the state of brick-and-mortar retail businesses in the U.S.

Tip: The term “phygital” reflects the future for retail where brick-and-mortar stores bring digital elements into their locations.

And, yes, we’ve heard such dire predictions before. First, it was managed care that was going to kill private practice and bring down brick-and-mortar optical operations. More recently, it’s been online retail that’s supposedly doing the dastardly deed.

Alive and Well

In case you haven’t noticed, however, most of you are still standing. Challenges remain, and, yes, new ones rise as others shrink.

What story do the numbers tell? According to Forbes, small business brick-and-mortar retail revenue grew 53% between 2016 and 2022. And, though sales in physical locations were down 5% YOY in 2022, there’s a good explanation for that. Simply put, it would have been impossible to keep pace with the year before. That’s when U.S. same-store sales revenue increased 20.8%…a rise that created a new 21st-century record.

The amount that brick-and-mortar retail sales outpaced e-commerce growth in 2022.

So, what’s in the picture for next year? We checked out several savvy sources to see what they say is ahead.

According to Capital One Shopping’s research:

• Despite all the hoopla, brick-and-mortar retail sales outpaced e-commerce growth by 6.52% in 2022.

• Reflecting a YoY increase of 48% from 2021, 6,180 new retail locations were built last year.

• 1,680 stores closed in 2022. That’s down a hefty 57.4% from 2021.

• Among U.S. retailers with brick-and-mortar locations, 57.6% earn more than half of their revenue from in-store sales.

2024 and Beyond

The Forrester Study, which was commissioned by Brightspot last year, reports that stores will still account for three quarters of retail sales in 2024.

What else? There’s a new term for new times, “phygital.” It reflects a future for retail where brick-and-mortar stores bring digital elements into their location. It’s a trend that all categories, including optical, are embracing.

Omni-channel will continue to explode. That being said, Forrester researchers stress that “categories requiring shopper touch and feel or in-store advice…are likely to be bought in-store.” And that, concludes its study, is not changing soon.

What trends do you see in your neck of the woods? Tell us about it and share in the conversation on Facebook here.

Erinn Morgan

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