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Exploring the Evolution of Retail: A Conversation with Deena Zimmerman

The world of retail is constantly evolving, and in a recent discussion, Amy Calandrino, Founder and CEO of Beyond Commercial, sat down with Deena Zimmerman, co-chair of the Retail Product Council at SVN International, to explore the changing landscape of retail and the innovative uses of retail spaces in 2023.

The Rise of Experiential Retail

One of the key trends discussed was the growing prominence of experiential retail. The COVID-19 pandemic had led to pent-up demand for out-of-home experiences, and this trend is here to stay. Deena highlighted various examples of experiential retail, including golf simulators, with Top Golf and its competitors expanding their presence. Other trends include pickleball facilities, bouncy castles, and even axe-throwing venues.

Health and Wellness

Another significant shift in retail is the emphasis on health and wellness. The pandemic has raised awareness of health-related services, leading to a surge in businesses like Med Spas, offering services such as Botox and laser hair removal. Milan, a Med Spa chain, is experiencing rapid growth across the country. This trend reflects a broader societal focus on well-being.

Grocery Shopping in the Digital Age

The conversation touched on the changing landscape of grocery shopping. While online and delivery services have gained traction, many consumers still prefer the tactile experience of shopping for groceries in person. Smaller-format grocers are emerging as a popular choice, offering convenience and a more intimate shopping experience.

The Future of Retail

When discussing the future of retail, Deena emphasized that while e-commerce and online shopping are significant, not all retail will move entirely online. The concept of “clicks to bricks” has gained traction, with online brands recognizing the importance of physical stores. Customers still value the opportunity to touch and feel products.

Adaptive Retail Footprints

The panelists discussed the changing footprint of retail spaces. Some retailers are downsizing their physical locations, while others are optimizing their spaces for omni-channel experiences. Innovations like Bonobos, a men’s retailer with fitting rooms but no on-hand inventory, reflect this adaptability.

Distribution Centers in Retail

Surprisingly, the conversation led to a discussion of distribution centers for e-commerce giants like Amazon. Vacant big-box retail spaces are being repurposed into distribution hubs, aligning with the ongoing shift toward e-commerce and speedy deliveries.


While the retail landscape is evolving rapidly, one thing remains clear: retail is not disappearing. Instead, it is transforming to meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers. The retail industry is embracing experiential offerings, health and wellness services, and adaptive store formats. As retail continues to evolve, retailers will need to stay agile and responsive to the ever-shifting demands of consumers in the digital age.

In a world where online shopping has become increasingly prevalent, the conversation with Deena Zimmerman serves as a reminder that there is still a place for physical retail experiences, and innovation is driving the sector forward into new and exciting territory.