Shopfronts on Main Street continue to shutter at record numbers. In 2019 alone, 9,300 stores closed, setting a new record. Meanwhile, beauty retailer Sephora opened nearly 50 new stores, including locations at New York’s Hudson Yards and Time Square, along with The Grove in Los Angeles. And this year, Sephora is preparing for its biggest expansion ever, opening 100 new stores across North America throughout 2020, adding to its existing 490 stores in the region.
So what’s Sephora’s secret? For one thing, the company is creating a mix of retail formats. It now plans to open a range of smaller-format stores in neighborhoods around the country, which is different from its larger stores of the past that were sometimes as large as 5,500 square feet. Two years ago, I reported about Sephora’s pilot boutique store in Boston. Now the company is opening stores like it in San Jose, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Nashville, Tennessee. These stores are designed to blend into the community, and since they will not carry the entire range of products that Sephora sells, they’ll have a rotating array of haircare and skincare brands on display.
Sephora has always been a leader in immersive retail experiences: It was the first makeup retailer that allowed customers to sample every single product to their hearts’ content. Continuing with this philosophy, Sephora says in a statement that it uses cost-effective building materials so it can invest more in “client centric experiences, services, and employee development.”
And finally, with this expansion, Sephora is focusing on sustainability, an issue that is increasingly important to consumers. These stores will run on 100% renewable energy, which will help to reduce its overall energy consumption and its greenhouse gas emissions.
So the bottom line is that retail is not dead. It can still be a successful business model, as long as retailers continue to innovate the in-store experience and make shopping fun for customers.