Market research firm and traffic tracker Placer.ai has identified eight retail trends to watch in the year ahead.
In a market fundamentally reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers need to understand the value of both digital and physical operations to advance, Placer asserted.
Placer determined that the critical trends as:
- A Comprehensive Approach to Omnichannel is a Must. Despite the bleak outlook some observers presented as regards brick-and-mortar retail in recent years, the COVID-19 recovery period has proven that physical retail may actually be stronger than before the pandemic, which will drive operators to further explore the business advantages that an omnichannel strategy blending the two modes of shopping can provide.
- The Digitally Native Brand’s Brick-and-Mortar Future. Many digitally natives brands from Allbirds to Amazon have been turning to physical locations and bringing their data-driven approach to growth and deep understanding of customers with them, which should drive more retail diversity and an infusion of fresh perspectives.
- Retail Healthcare is on the Rise. CVS announced it would be closing 900 stores in the next three years and remodeling hundreds of others to put more emphasis on providing healthcare services even as Walgreens is doubling down on its own investment in healthcare, with retailers including Walmart moving into the medical management space, guaranteeing that the treatment trend is on the rise.
- Small-Format Stores — The Next Big Thing? Both shop-in-shop and smaller versions of major retailer’s full-sized formats are gaining, with Target being a case in point, yet companies from Kohl’s to Macy’s and Ulta to Sephora are taking part in a trend that has been gathering momentum.
- The Great Regression. The norm is reasserting itself, with companies such as Home Depot and Lowe’s that surged in the pandemic experiencing a slow down as COVID-19 associated shopping restrictions lapse, but the real story is that, compared to 2019, much of the sales growth held, which means that many retailers who have made gains in the pandemic are now in a stronger position to move forward while others, and Peloton may be a case in point, could see ongoing sales erosion.
- Disciplined Expansion. Some retailers that were adding a significant number of stores before the pandemic have managed to continue executing their expansion plans successfully and will continue to add stores in 2022 and beyond, building their market presence versus more staid rivals.
- The Haves and Have Nots. Location analytics looking at retail giants such Target, Walmart, and Best Buy demonstrate that the changes in visits they experienced throughout the pandemic were minor to non-existent, so expect them to leverage their dominance aggressively in the next year as they double down on the advantages their size and scale provided during the pandemic period.
- Strong in the Face of Challenges. Despite the fact that inflation has been rising at the fastest pace in 30 years, consumers don’t appear to be cutting down on their purchasing, but sector and even local shifts in the post-pandemic environment will challenge retailers to adapt whether in response to labor shortages, sourcing difficulties or serving customers who are returning to offices after working at home.
- The Future is Bright for Offline Retail. Consumers are feeling renewed excitement about shopping in stores, while retailers are more willing to experiment with new approaches and strategies, which creates a window of opportunity for businesses that understand the shifts in both consumer expectations and effective market strategies.