There has been no shortage of speculation since March 2020 about what the retail world might look like if and when the novel coronavirus pandemic end. While waves of the pandemic continue to impact the U.S., the relaxation of restrictions and the perception of overall improvement has led to an increase in store openings, which one firm sees as a sign that physical retail is entering a “new age.”

An analysis from Moody’s Analytics describes a slew of new store openings and states that the retail world has “a reasonably strong appetite for in-store shopping on both the demand and the supply sides,” according to Globe St.

Retail verticals with products that depend on in-person browsing, such as home furnishings, have been dominating store openings with new locations in places where demographic shifts have demanded more retailers.

Previously online-only brands like Warby Parker have also continued to build their physical retail footprints.

Major chains such as Aldi, Lidl and Starbucks have expanded their physical footprints throughout the pandemic, and 7-Eleven, Sonic and Dollar General have all announced big expansions in the offing.

The reopening of stores seems to be diverting customers away from e-commerce, as well. The prediction of a rush back to stores corresponding with waning COVID-19 cases held up during the summer and heading into fall, although concerns related to the delta variant kept many shopping at home. More recent indications of a rise in cases in parts of the U.S. is becoming a point of concern heading into the Christmas holiday season.


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