2020 Winners: Early, Bold Predictions

The year may have just begun, but it’s certainly never too early to make a bold prediction about the year to come. With that in mind, we’ve decided to break down some of the retail winners we’ll be talking about next December as the dominant players of the year.

Target

We get it, it’s an obvious pick.  Target is coming off a very strong year including year-over-year growth from April through August with huge traffic jumps throughout the summer. But, the reason for inclusion here goes beyond past performance.

Target isn’t just crushing, it is defining a segment with potential for ongoing success. Moves to include higher-priced offerings, like Disney or Toys-R-Us locations on-site, speak to a move upmarket. And this is validated by the data. Target sees nearly 25% of its audience with a household income of over $100,000, significantly more than Walmart. Decisions to launch multi-format stores and locations in major cities like a new NYC flagship also support this focus on higher-income areas. These strategies indicate that coming off an exceptional year, Target might have even more growth in its sights.

Chipotle 

Chipotle has managed to slowly recover from its past traumas, climbing its way back up year-over-year with 2019 marking a very strong year. Other than a few holiday week dips and a characteristically slow fall season, the chain has managed to maintain positive baseline growth throughout the year. Looking at the period from November 2017 to November 2019, Chipotle’s highest peak the last week of April was 17% above baseline, compared to just 2% above baseline that week the previous year. Its lowest-performing week during this period was only 4.5% below baseline, compared to 9.7% below baseline in 2018. And with continuous menu innovation and improved restaurant design Chipotle is certainly on the right track to continue its rebound into 2020. 

Chick-Fil-A

The year will go down in history as the year of the #ChickenWars, with Chick-fil-A at the front lines, though Popeyes did take the crown in that head to head. Yet, this battle and being closed on Sundays didn’t stop Chick-fil-A from producing incredibly strong 2019 results. Looking at the period of November 2017 to November 2019, Chick-fil-A’s peak week actually came before the onset of the wars. The second week of July shows visits of 26.8% above baseline, compared to a 5.7% the previous year. 

Despite Popeyes coming in hot, and McDonalds trying to join in on the chicken hype, Chick-fil-A experienced steady growth – even with a smaller overall footprint. This indicates the social media hype only strengthened the chain’s customer loyalty, as visit volume not only increased but was significantly higher than rival Popeyes’. Chick-fil-A’s ability to sustain growth outside of the social-media-induced peaks surely sets the restaurant up for success in the upcoming year. 

Bed Bath & Beyond

Yup, this one certainly falls into the bold prediction category. Every month in 2019, apart from a stellar August, has drawn fewer visits than the same month in 2018. So why include them? Because the strategic direction seems to be completely dead on. The company recently hired ex-Target executive Mark Tritton as CEO and is rumored to be aiming to bring on former Target CFO Cathy Smith as well. Target is a perfect North Star for Bed Bath & Beyond for several reasons.

Both brands are increasingly tilting upmarket with a huge opportunity for growth among a higher-income audience. And Bed Bath & Beyond sees more of its audience with an average household income of above $100,000 than Target. And this is where replicating some of Target’s strategies makes so much sense. 

Target has focused heavily on optimizing their store formats and stock for specific locations. Why? Because doing so allows them to maximize space efficiency, a critical factor for entering areas with high real estate costs. But it also puts a heavier emphasis on aligning stock with the audience, enabling stores to perform better in each location. 

CVS  

It’s no surprise that CVS lands on this list, with its heavy ramp-up of in-store initiatives in the last year. CVS began testing its new HealthHUBs at three different locations in Houston, TX and with such positive market response, decided to increase the total amount of HealthHUBs across the country to 1,500 by the end of 2021. 

Since the launch in February 2019, the pilot locations continue to perform well.  Despite a dip in June, overall visits are trending upward and the 40-minute average duration of customer visits continues to beat the national average. 

With the addition of its HealthHUBs, CVS has positioned itself well amongst its competitors as the leading one-stop-shop pharmacy.  In an era where e-commerce and digital initiatives are on the rise, it’s important for brands to know how to interact with consumers and create a personal in-store environment, and that’s exactly what CVS plans to do in 2020. 

Ulta 

Ulta Beauty has continued to surprise with its ever-evolving offline and digital marketing strategies. And 2019 was no different, as Ulta committed itself to enhancing the overall consumer experience by offering more personalized in-store experiences. It’s set to finish the year, as one of the top-performing retail stocks of the decade. But, with such a strong performance over the last 10 years, will Ulta be able to reign supreme as the top beauty brand in 2020? 

Its new strategies seem to be paying off, as the beauty chain saw a 300% spike in traffic above the baseline average for Black Friday in 2019 – a 9% increase from the previous year.  When we analyze month-to-month data between November 1st, 2018 and November 30th 2019, each month, May through August, saw an overall increase in visits. 

With Ulta’s high-end remodels, shiny new loyalty program and its comprehensive in-store beauty bar, customers are finding reasons to stick around, as they are spending, on average, 43 minutes during their visits. 

As Ulta separates itself from its competitors and focuses on driving offline traffic and offering unparalleled in-store experiences, it will be on pace to keep its title as the leading beauty brand in 2020. 

Honorable Mention: Wegmans, Publix, TJ Maxx, Popeyes, Nike

Looking forward to checking in next year to see how our picks performed! Want to join the conversation? Visit Placer.ai.

Ethan Chernofsky

Ethan Chernofsky

Ethan is the VP Marketing at Placer.ai and loves helping people reach their goals with location analytics.

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