Welcome to The Week in Retail, a weekly roundup for marketers from Quad Insights that covers the latest must-know news surrounding the retail space.

U.S. retail sales grew 0.6% in December

Spending at U.S. retailers was up in December, with retail sales growing 0.6% over November’s 0.3%, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, per CNN Business’ Bryan Mena. Spending at department stores was the highest of any category, jumping 3%, but sales were also up at car dealerships, clothing stores and online retailers.

Additionally, a new Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopper Survey is shedding light on e-commerce grocery sales in the U.S. throughout all of 2023. While online grocery sales were down 1.2% — driven by a 6% drop in monthly order frequency, per Retail Brew’s Erin Cabrey — increases were seen across monthly active users (2%), as well as average order volume across delivery (3%), pickup (2.6%) and ship-to-home (1.7%). Pickup, however, was the most popular of all methods, taking a 46% share of all online grocery sales, with $44.1 billion.

The takeaway: American consumers continued to show remarkable resilience across major retail categories through the end of 2023, though inflationary pressures may have prompted the drop in monthly order frequency among online grocery shoppers.

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Casper’s redesigned store offers immersive shopping experience, complimentary naps

Casper has unveiled a revamped Sleep Shop in Costa Mesa, California, which is designed to provide a “unique and immersive shopping experience for customers,” per a company statement. The store features a Snooze Bar, a consultation area where Casper Sleep Specialists educate customers “on all things sleep” and offer recommendations on products; an interactive Pillow Lab where customers can learn about and test pillows; a Bedroom DeZzzign Center where customers can design and curate their “ideal sleep setup”; and a Bunkhouse with a twin-size bed where kids can hang out while their parents shop. The mattress retailer is also allowing customers to test products by booking complimentary half-hour to one-hour nap appointments. Napping guests are provided with a Sleep Provisions Kit, featuring items such as an eye mask and essential oils.

The takeaway: An early innovator and leader in the DTC mattress/sleep space, Casper is finding new ways to stand out with charming, playful in-store experiential marketing — a growing focus for DTC brands that are increasing their investments in brick-and-mortar stores.

Sam’s Club launches new technology to eliminate receipt verification at exits

Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart Inc., has announced the deployment of new artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision technology designed to eliminate the need for receipt verification at store exits. Currently in the pilot phase at 10 locations, the innovation captures images of, and verifies payment for, all items in customers’ carts, without the help of a store associate. The new technology is a natural extension of the retail chain’s Scan & Go feature, the company said in a statement. Scan & Go allows members to bypass the traditional checkout by making purchases in-store using the Sam’s Club mobile app.

Sam’s Club announced it will expand the 10-store purchase-verification pilot to approximately 600 stores nationwide by the end of 2024.

The takeaway: Sam’s Club knows that wait times at exits are a sore point; its ambitious plans for a rapid rollout of an AI-driven solution suggest the retailer believes it can dramatically reduce or eliminate that pain point.

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Further reading

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If you’d like to catch up on prior installments of this column, start by heading to our last recap: “The Week in Retail: January 12, 2024 edition”