2020 has been the most trying year in the history of retail. Not only have retail businesses been facing more than a decade-long trend of consumer preferences shifting to e-commerce alternatives, but 2020 brought with it the existential threat of COVID-19. As we are all too well aware, this led to a global economic slowdown, stay-at-home mandates, social distancing, and other elements that kept consumers out of stores.

But not all is doom and gloom. We will examine bright spots in the retail economy and see what these industries and businesses have done to not only survive, but differentiate themselves and thrive.

The retail sectors that have thrived to the greatest degree in 2020 are the grocery industry, dollar stores, and convenience stores. Interestingly enough, all three sectors are spending more than ever on their signage.

The grocery industry is up more than 10% year over year in gross sales and the investment in grocery store signage is up more than 20%. It is more important now than ever before to grab customers’ attention with grocery store signage at both the “drive-by” level and the in-store level. There is more competition for customers than ever before. That means getting customers to stop and enter your store is more important than ever before.

Once in the store, it is crucial to capture as much business as possible from your existing customers. With the number of in-store employees on the decline, the single best way to point customers in the direction of your product or sale is in-store signage.

Dollar stores, while not as commonly thought of as grocery stores, sales are up more than 20% in 2020. What’s more, their in-store signage spend is up more than 35% year over year! More than 85% of street-facing dollar store windows have signs extolling the deals to-be-had within their walls. Once in-store, signage is hanging from the ceiling, accompanying new endcap displays, even pointing customers in the direction of great deals with floor decals (along with their social distancing decals).

The grocery sector and dollar store sector aren’t the only segments enjoying banner years, convenience stores are making hay while the sun is shining. As an industry, in-store sales are up eight percent. How is it that with less driving in 2020 than any year since 1992, gas stations are doing more business than ever before? We can’t ignore the shift in the c-store model to a more full-service experience with high-quality food options. But the biggest driver of increased revenue is getting drivers to leave the pump and make in-store purchases. What is the single biggest tool in the c-store tool kit for driving consumers inside? You guessed it… signage.

C-stores are taking advantage unlike ever before of opportunities to introduce customers to the deals inside by leveraging printed signage on top of their pumps, wrapped on their pumps, on the barriers that protect both their pumps and doors, their windows are full of monthly and seasonal offerings, etc. The spend on gas is in decline, but the spend by gas stations on signage is increasing unlike ever before. There’s a reason – the economics dictate that c-store signage has one of the best ROI’s in this retail environment.

It’s no accident that when the stakes have never been higher, the market sectors which are growing at a record pace are focusing more than ever on their in-store signage and print.

Why do we see these red-hot sectors increasing their focus on their signage? Because signage works! Signage never clocks out, doesn’t take days off, and doesn’t need three weeks paid vacation. Yet, it never stops attracting, informing, and influencing both your existing clientele and prospective new customers.

Sales are the lifeblood of every business. When examining your business and the potential strategies for maintaining or increasing sales, don’t overcomplicate your options. The effectiveness of signage has been proven over time and in the modern era. Just remember…

Your employees sleep; your signs won’t.