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Today in Retail: Etsy Tries to Make Marketplace More Personal; Wayfair Plans Permanent Physical Stores

In today’s top retail news, Etsy executives want the marketplace to be an alternative to other “commoditized” commerce experiences, while Wayfair is preparing to set up permanent store locations after four years of testing pop-ups and temporary shops. Also, Express has expanded its social commerce platform across the U.S., and malls are seeing improved sales but traffic is still down compared to two years ago.

Etsy Positions Itself as Antidote to ‘Commoditized’ eCommerce

Peer-to-peer marketplace operator Etsy is investing heavily in making the buyer experience more personal as the holiday shopping season gets underway, positioning itself as the antithesis to other marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart. Etsy reported that its consolidated gross merchandise sales were up nearly 18% year-over-year to $3.1 billion, with the GMS of the Etsy marketplace up over 12% to $2.7 billion.

Wayfair Hints at Expanded Physical Presence in 2022

After several years of pilots and pop-ups, online furniture and home goods retailer Wayfair says it is ready to try a variety of permanent physical location formats starting next year, though details are being held close to the vest. Wayfair previously tried pop-up stores in different malls, as well as a bona fide store at the Natick Mall in Massachusetts, which the company closed in December after 15 months.

Express Expands Social Commerce Offering Nationwide

Fashion apparel retailer Express has expanded its social Community Commerce program across the U.S. and added fashion designer Rachel Zoe as lead style editor for the initiative, just months after launching a pilot of the project. The Express Community Commerce program gives product information and education, personal coaching and ongoing mentorship to a team of Express style editors, who design, sell and earn commissions on seasonal collections through an exclusive platform.

Mall Sales Are Up, But Shopping Centers Still Have a Traffic Problem

Shopping centers around the country are beginning to fill with holiday shoppers for the first time in two years, boosting spending at brick-and-mortar malls — but traffic remains below levels seen prior to the pandemic, something that executives hope will change when international travel resumes. Data from show that foot traffic was down 6.5% at indoor malls in September compared to 2019 and down 5.2% at outdoor malls.

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