National trends are showing the rise of the “omnishopper,” someone
who uses technology to shop in a variety of retail channels. It is
not a universal concept, but one that some municipalities are using
to guide their planning.
Last month, the
Grafton Plan Commission directed staff to look into changing market
trends, planning a possible amendment to the village’s Port
Washington Road corridor plan for future use. That followed the
withdrawl of a proposal by Continental Properties to build three
retail spaces north of Costco on Port Washington Road, including a
Jessica Wolff said she received no indication from the firm
afterward whether anything would come back.
Last week, Joe
Berkhahn of Continental Properties indicated it would.
“It was really
just to clean up the plan, so we could make it better under the
current comprehensive plan,” he said.
he did not know precisely when the development proposal – named
Grafton Commons North – would be resubmitted, but after an internal
meeting at his company, he said it would likely be in the next month
he could not share information on tenants, but Continental did have
at least one that is a national retail chain that would inhabit the
was not provided before Wolff had drafted a new zoning type for the
Port Washington corridor to allow mixed business uses rather than
exclusively retail, though the plan commission had not acted on it.
“The ideas I was
suggesting are ambitious, and are different,” Wolff said.
a mixed zone that would allow for multiuse complexes. Rather than
single-user “big box” or multi-tenant buildings with three or four
stores targeting all retail or large-scale stores, as much of the
Port Washington Road and the interchange area are in Grafton, she
suggested developments that have smaller businesses of different
development could include retail, dining, service and entertainment;
buildings could be different sizes or multiple stories.
According to the
Omnishopper Project, an ongoing, national and international economic
and retail research study funded by MasterCard, omnishoppers
research before and during buying; while they go online to price
compare, read reviews or select the products they desire, many are
still going in-store for the actual purchase experience.
“We all kind of
intuitively feel that shopping patterns are changing … but they’re
not just changing for us, it’s national,” Wolff said.
Project research indicated that today’s shoppers seek an experience,
rather than just shopping. The trend is national, leading to more
communities encouraging greater varieties of development in single
areas, creating walkable and bikeable environments in which
consumers can spend a day in shopping and entertainment, rather than
going to a store to pick up an item, and then leave.
developments are currently the best solution for addressing an
increase in demand for walkable spaces that include retail, food,
fitness, office, residential and other facilities in proximity to
one another,” wrote planner Mike Slavney.
director of planning for Vandewalle & Associates, a firm with
expertise in economic strategy, planning and design, energy, food
and water systems, redevelopment, architecture and real estate.
during the Plan Commission discussion; he has worked with the
village on its comprehensive plan during an extensive update project
that finished about a year ago. He said that new developments are
increasing options in not only stores but different use types to
attract greater demographics.
people come to an area like the Port Washington Road corridor for
the big box stores, there are others who would be drawn to it if the
area also had more food options, or also entertainment, parks or
ECE Market Research, a research team dedicated to survey and
analysis of consumer behaviors, indicates 40 percent of shoppers
decide where to shop based on available food options.
President and Plan Commissioner Jim Brunnquell said he wanted to
start the discussion locally because of the changes nationally with
the rise of millennials and the omnishopper, but accepted the will
of the commission to keep zoning as it is. His goal was to stay
aware of the changing market, and ensure Grafton keeps itself
informed and prosperous.
“When you have a
changing dynamic, we have to be nimble, we have to be agile,” he