Shoppers will never walk the aisles of the newest Whole Foods Market slated to open in Brooklyn.
Instead, the “dark store” will be used exclusively to fill online orders, according to USA Today.
While Whole Foods started working on the project over a year ago, there’s no doubt that increased demand for online grocery shopping amid COVID-19 will make the project more successful.
In fact, Aug. 4 data from Mintel showed that 44 percent of shoppers are still shopping more online.
But changes like that don’t just impact the stores that go dark. Fewer trips to physically stores has all sort of tangential effects. No need to stop for lunch on the way there. No browsing through the craft store that’s next to the grocery.
Not to mention the impact on impulse shopping — which just isn’t the same on a screen. Enticing candy packaging can’t entice people if they never get the chance to see it.
But a massive shift to dark stores isn’t the only drastic change happening to retail and the economy.
Millions of workers are now working from home.
An article from Maker this week looked at all the ways the, “Remote work is killing the hidden trillion-dollar office economy.”
“As companies in cities across the U.S. postpone and even scrap plans to reopen their offices, they have transformed once-teeming city business districts into commercial ghost towns comprised of essentially vacant skyscrapers and upscale complexes,” writes author Steve LeVine. “A result has been the paralysis of the rarely remarked-upon business ecosystem centering on white-collar workers, who, when you include the enterprises reliant on them, account for a pre-pandemic labor force approaching 100 million workers.”
Indeed, it’s not hard to go down a rabbit hole when you realize just how many businesses are being completely uprooted in all this.
All the events I used to attend for work have moved online. That alone leaves behind airlines, hotels, restaurants near the shows, convention centers, even clothing stores that sell business apparel.
And the fact that Pinterest recently paid $89.5M to cancel a new office lease because they’ve realized they’ll still save money in the long run just moving staff to work-from-home status makes it clear that this is becoming a serious long-term trend that will outlast the pandemic.
But as office space sits vacant, there’s so many dominos— the rent for that building, suppliers who sold them office furniture, the local restaurants and hotels where they would host business meetings, the gas stations people used to stop at on the way into the office. The list goes on and on and one.
It’s become increasingly clear that we are never, “going back to normal.”
And I’m not sure what things are going to look like on the other side. But those dollars aren’t just going to be magically replaced somehow. And the candy industry is going to see very direct impacts from all this.
If people are working and shopping at home, they aren’t picking up gum, mints, chocolates, or gummy bears during the course of the day. And if they’re still craving those products, they will likely switch to more bulk packaging they can order online and stick in the pantry.
The good news is, people have shown that they are willing to go out of their way for a candy bar, especially if they’re dealing with a lot of stress.
New data from the National Confectioners Association shows that, “Overall sales of chocolate and candy have increased 3.8 percent with chocolate (+5.5 percent) and premium chocolate (+12.5 percent) outpacing the rest of the category.”
So it looks like confectionery sales will remain strong — it’s just where and how those sales are happening that’s evolving much quicker than most of us expected.