After a long period of curtailed expansion plans, retailers are ready to swing back to growth mode: A new survey from the National Retail Federation and KPMG finds that 41% of retail executives plan to increase store expansions this year. That compares to just 25% in last year's survey. Both Target and Dollar General have announced such expansion plans in recent weeks; Microsoft, Disney H&M and Nordstrom also have new units on the horizon.
M-commerce is also high on retailers' radar, with 69% of the executives surveyed saying mobile is an important strategic initiative -- up from 28% a year ago. Cost-cutting is still important, but it's less of a focus. This year, 58% report that cost reduction and cost containment programs will remain a strategic initiative in their company, down from 81%. Overseas expansion is also inching up on retailers' agenda: 25% say they plan to expand overseas, up from 21% a year ago.
Other shifts include a big jump in insight gathering, with 74% of retailers planning to boost their data-gathering projects -- up from 65% in the prior year -- a bigger interest in Twitter (79% are using it, compared to 61% last year), and a renewed interest in customer loyalty programs with 78% ranking them first among customer insight initiatives, up from 65% a year ago.
The survey, the ninth annual Retail Horizons effort from NRF and KPMG, is based on interviews with 318 retail executives at 135 North American retail chains.