As more people get vaccinated, there’s a release of pent-up demand for shopping in-stores, dining out and meeting with friends. And after the drudgery of the peak-pandemic period, consumers are also being bolder with their fashion choices – dressing up themselves and their homes.
They’re also embracing the idea of a “staycation” but taking it to the next level: the “daycation,” which positions shopping and experience destinations such as American Dream, just minutes outside of New York City in East Rutherford, N.J., at the heart of the new customer shopping journey, according to a recent panel discussion with Ken Downing, Chief Creative Officer for American Dream, Tracy Margolies, Chief Merchandising Officer of Saks and Justin Sonfield, Chief Executive Officer of Jonathan Adler Enterprises. The session was moderated by Arthur Zaczkiewicz, Executive Editor of WWD and Fairchild Media Group.
Downing said consumers have been trapped indoors, and “shopping online and now they’re ready for an in-store experience. And I’m finding the customer also has a very bold appetite for new ideas.”
“Customers want something truly sensational that they don’t have in their closet, they want color, they want excitement, and they want something they haven’t seen in a while,” Downing explained. “And they want to have an experience — and this is something we’re seeing at American Dream; where it’s not only about a shopping experience, but also about offering superlative customer service. Shoppers want something to ‘wow’ them.”
Downing said consumers are craving a reason to go out and have experiences, and to be dazzled. For American Dream the draw is entertainment retail with shopping, dining and indoor attractions including the DreamWorks Water Park and Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park. American Dream’s retail offerings are broad and deep and include brands one would expect in a world-class destination, including Aritzia, Best Buy, Fabletics, H&M, Jonathan Adler, Lululemon, Primark, Sephora, Tumi, Ulta Beauty, Zara and many, many others. On Sept. 17, American Dream will expand its retail portfolio with the opening of The Avenue, the unrivaled luxury shopping experience that includes Dolce & Gabanna, Hermès, Jonathan Adler, Saks Fifth Avenue, amongst others.
Downing said the offerings take traditional shopping to “a whole other level of retail because people want to take home the experience and the memories that they had while they were having a great time.”
With fashion apparel, Downing said shoppers are “hungry for clothes that they don’t have in their closet because there’s a little fatigue from wearing the proverbial sweatpants and a slouchy top so I’m seeing people being drawn to things that are a little bit more dressed up.”
Margolies agreed, and said consumers today are also heavily influenced by the intensity of social media. “They see things on social media, and they want immediate gratification; so, whereas before people will come to the store and see things for the first time now, they’re already shopping at home, and shopping on the subway — they’re shopping all the time. They’re always looking, and they’re always being engaged with what’s new and they want immediate gratification.”
Sonfield said Pinterest has had a strong impact. “What Pinterest did was really reach out and give an O.K. to Middle America to start seeing what the coasts were dressing like and what their homes looked like,” he said. “The flash of color we were just speaking of really started to come about from social media.” Sonfield said consumers saw bold and bright looks on social media and realized that it’s “okay to bring fashion to the home, and it’s okay to be part of a new wave of thinking that’s very global. It really added to the glamour of the way we dress, and the way we set our homes.”
To see an exclusive video of Ken Downing, Tracy Margolies, and Justin Sonfield discussing these and other trends as well as how American Dream serves as the nexus for “fantasy, fashion, food, family, and fun” click below.