The 2021 retail statistics, facts, trends and hacks collected on this page will fill you in on the most recent research from reputable sources.
The line between online and brick-and-mortar businesses gets blurrier by the day. More and more offline stores are building and integrating multiple online platforms. On the other hand, some digital native brands are establishing physical shops that sell no products but simply provide retailtainment in the shape of refreshing beverages and pick-up services.
Statistics on online shopping vs in store shopping, the still unchallenged supremacy of brick-and mortar-shopping, and the surprisingly demanding marketing methods. You’ll need all of these if you plan on surviving another year (or 10) as a retailer.
The most popular industry trends seem to lean towards extreme personalization. Users’ real-time emotional and behavioral data, purchase history, and mood analysis are taking analytics technologies to the next level. A deep understanding of every single consumer's personal desires and preferences promises to mirror the intimate, 1-on-1, in-store relationships, only by the millions.
Behavior-based analysis leads to personalization and data driven optimization, which brands and retailers are using to much greater effect in 2021.
US retail companies operate via a wide array of well-established distribution channels. The sector employs 42 million people in small “mom-and-pop” shops as well as large department stores, and the competitive environment spurs innovation, efficiency, and reliability.
(Vend, 2018 Retail Benchmark Report)
The 2018 Vend’s Retail Benchmarks Report analyzed the sales and revenue data of over 13,000 Vend customers. The analysis of retailers statistics indicate that New Zealand business owners processed more than 500 monthly transactions, while North American ones processed 426. Vend analyzed retailers who mostly owned 1-10 stores. Any way you look at it, that’s a healthy number of transactions.
(Vend, 2019 Retail Benchmark Report)
According to Vend’s analysis of the US retail sales statistics, that’s with a gross margin of 50.96%. This incredible figure defies the predicted demise of small retail.
But the numbers differ across industries:
Furniture retailers take the lead with $39,572 per month. Beauty industry retailers follow with $18,644, with special thanks to special circumstances, as people buy lipstick, deodorant, and conditioner more often than they do furniture. After all, beauty is a lifetime addiction.
According to Investopedia, distribution centers, along with lumber and building supply retailers, are more lucrative than most other types of retail. Different retail trends apply to a 2x4, as it doesn’t age and go out of style the same way as electronics, clothes, and similar products. Usually, these items will not qualify for a discount over time, thus maintaining a higher net margin.
Nevertheless, 68% still planned to open more establishments in 2019. While the situation on the high street has grown more complex and competitive, this finding proves that the physical store is still a vital sales channel for retailers.
In the same 2019 Geoblink report on retailing today, 87% of retail professionals stated that a store’s location was a priority to their business. Most, therefore, understand the importance of a suitable store location but fail to deliver, highlighting a strong point of vexation for high street retailers.
If their products lack in quality, pushing up the prices is unlikely to help retailers cheat their way into people’s wallets. A rise in alternative brand popularity suggests a lower price point, an original idea, and a unique selling point can often beat established competitors. Perhaps unexpectedly, consumer statistics indicate that bragging about one’s retail street-smarts after getting a particularly good deal for a quality item has become a trend in itself.
While pricy brands are still effective status symbols, they seem to be going out of style at a faster pace than one could imagine. Consumers are becoming increasingly educated on pricing strategies and often do extensive product research before committing to a purchase. Many are now prioritizing value.
(Retail Trends 2019, Report)
The 2019 KPMG Retail Report sheds light on new retail marketing trends - live experiences. These sensory-central events usually exert a substantial impact on customers, helping them get in physical contact with the product/service and have a good time while they’re at it.
KPMG is a network of professional service firms that employs 207,050 people in three lines of services: financial audit, tax, and advisory. Their 2019 study confirms a global surge in experiential retail (alternative experiences in a physical retail environment, including live music, virtual reality, cafés and lounges, and even interactive art).
In light of this retail industry data, Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade, stresses the importance of improving the connection between digital and physical stores. As consumers are growing more interested in personalized services, retailers need to focus on providing a better in-store experience.
In his view, consumers’ future shopping experiences will be shaped by the omnichannel retail trend. Another tendency he foresees is the rise of the digital-savvy and well-informed consumer, a trend that will force yet another shift in the way retail businesses are run.
Recent retail consumer trends indicate that staying competitive isn’t always about employing the flashiest, state-of-the-art data analysis methods and customer-pleasing hacks. Consumers have been far too pampered for far too long. They now expect retailers to go out of their way to make recommendations and record users’ behavior. While personalized recommendations might seem like additional effort to some, they have now become standard practice.
(Retail Trends 2019, Report)
In a growing effort to enjoy their lifestyle, people are cherishing and prioritizing experiences over material possessions. Recent retail industry analysis shows a burgeoning need in consumers to satiate their immediate needs. They spend less on buying things and more on doing things - and sharing what they do on social media. From theaters to bars to stores, businesses are doing their best to adapt to this shift.
(Retail Trends 2019, Report)
In an excellent example of a live experiential take on retail experience as a new retail marketing style, IKEA hosted a sleepover for over 100 customers in one of their shops. The event included a sleep expert who provided advice on how to get a good night’s sleep and what type of mattress would best suit customers’ sleeping style.
InMoment’s 2018 US Retail CX Trends Report explored the way brand loyalty affects customers’ willingness to share their data and purchasing experiences. Most of their retail statistics come from satisfied customers. The happier people are with a product/service, the more likely they are to share their feelings with others, including friends and family.
(Retail Trends 2019, Report)
The holiday season is yet another proof that experiential retail, or retailtainment, is the future. The long-awaited and longer-announced decline of brick-and-mortar stores never took into account the overwhelming hedonism prevalent nowadays. And retail industry data shows the desire for experiences has been on the rise for a while now.
(Retail Trends 2019, Report)
Happiness is only real when shared, right? As the 2019 KPMG report shows, as many as 11% of respondents take at least one picture of their food per week, while 9% are unable to go a day without capturing what they’re consuming.
This behavior has triggered an avalanche of highly aesthetic retail market trends - arranging food, lighting, and store interior to appear Instagram-friendly. Appealing to buyers’ vanity and making them look happy and well-off on social media also brings free advertising and word-of-mouth recommendations. This way, consumers’ friends and family are likely to see retailers’ service in the best possible light.
More and more retailers are working towards replacing plastic bags with paper variants. This helps build up brand reputation and, most of all, it helps customers feel good about themselves.
Recent retail industry data shows “fighting for the right cause” and advocating for positive change on a global scale can benefit a brand’s marketing efforts a great deal. Luckily for our planet, the imposed altruism coincides with higher profits.
Another plastic reduction measure is the 5p charge per plastic bag in England, which slashed plastic bag usage by 86%. Seven major retailers issued 7.6 billion single-use bags in 2014, but that figure was down to just over a billion in 2017-18, estimates suggest.
In 2018, food retail industry sales were up by 4%, with the expected surge near the end of the year, on the eve of the holiday season. A robust economy, optimistic attitude towards the future, and strong unemployment figures added to the overall positive numbers.
The next most helpful items on the Geoblink’s list were In-store shopper behavioral data (65%) and customer data such as addresses and loyalty card information (55%). This shows how retailers have started using collected and analyzed customer data to influence the tactical implementation of their business strategies.
(Harvard Business Review)
Hardly any retail industry company can afford not to run their business on multiple channels. A Study of 46,000 Shoppers demonstrates that omnichannel retailing works. The broad array of capabilities drives the engagement of core shoppers with the retail brand and ultimately draws them to the physical store.
Traditional retailers with physical stores will do better by leveraging the power of online marketing. Synchronizing the physical and the digital worlds will provide their shoppers with a seamless, multi-channel experience that online counterparts still cannot match.
It’s much easier to skim through 150 different products and compare prices in an hour on your phone than spend a month casually strolling the streets in search of the perfect hair straightener.
It makes sense, then, for users to do their research online, even if they plan to make a purchase in-store. As many as 60% of consumers start their product search on the search engine. And according to Adweek’s article on retailing statistics, 61% will read product reviews before making any purchase. On average, a consumer will visit three stores before making a purchase.
Physical sales are still customers’ top favorite purchase option. Still, the penetration of online commerce into consumers’ lives has been growing steadily for years now, showing no signs of slowing down. What’s more, the less popular sectors are expected to become more open for ecommerce options. Ecommerce growth for 2020, and 2021 is expected to hit 19.8%, and 18%, respectively.
A product with a hundred positive reviews and comments in which complete strangers go into details describing their interaction with restaurant staff, noodles, and payment options is a sure-thing, young consumers will tell you. With no memory of a world without the Web, many of these tech-savvy customers use brand reviews at their fingertips to conduct pre-purchase research, making online buying more circumspect.
As online shopping vs in store shopping statistics indicate, web-based purchases are slowly taking the lead. How does one win customers over to brick-and-mortar shopping? Going back to the roots of customer experience and branding. Gen X consumers are often more brand-loyal than Millennials, so consider this as part of your retail branding strategy.
According to Survata's Amazon study data, 36% of consumers start their search on a search engine. Only 15% go directly to brands or retailers. Amazon’s dominance over retailers becomes even more insane come holiday season. Also, 84% of US consumers plan on buying a gift on Amazon this year. Other online sales statistics indicate that half of them expect to spend at least 50% of their holiday budgets on Amazon.
Kalypso’s 2018 Digital Innovation Research came up with this figure. Salesforce research also backs this trend up with their research. In their predictions for 2019, they noted that retailers should have a clear picture of their customer base and act on it to compete effectively. Why? “Because merely competing on price (and even product) is a losing proposition.”
(Retail Trends 2019, Report)
Retailing statistics indicate that the introduction of smartphones, together with a global financial crisis, made consumers more price-savvy and informed than ever. Modern shoppers never want to pay the full price in their lives if they can help it. And they aren’t afraid to share their opinions on retailers ripping them off via online reviews. Cost transparency will continue to rise on the 2019 list of consumer priorities. The modern shopper will only be willing to pay full price if no other option is available after hours and days of research.
(Retail Trends 2019, Report)
Most smart speakers rely on assistants from existing ecommerce leaders – opening up new doors into consumers’ homes. Online shopping statistics on voice-controlled assistants indicate this trend will escalate over the next four years to $40 billion by 2022. The increased use of smart speakers at consumers’ homes is expected to drive the massive growth (1900%). OC&C expects smart speakers to penetrate 55% of US households by 2022 compared to 13% now.
(2019 Retail Trends Report)
As 31% of shoppers are completely bored, they rely on virtual reality to take their minds off shopping. What they lack in terms of fun, the retail industry makes up in social media platforms, rolling out new commerce-enabling features.
According to Alliance Data’s 2019 Now, New, Next trends report, we’re on the brink of a revolution in social shopping. Brands are embracing the new functionality via shoppable content, testing this new retail technology-enabled platform. The new feature is set to help customers to move more seamlessly from inspiration and discovery they experience when bored, to a real-life purchase.
(Retail Trends 2019, Report)
This comes as no surprise, as both online and brick-and-mortar shops necessarily rely on Facebook and Google as primary online retail marketing spaces. Together with Google, Facebook controls 82% of the digital advertising market.
Most other publications are forced to use Google ads, providing far less revenue to the retailer, slashing their audiences. Ads on social media platforms are well-placed since they make use of the mountain of user-data their algorithms can then analyze. The same holds true for articles and other news content on Facebook.
This should come as no surprise, as we already know shoppers have higher demands than ever from a retail purchase , particularly when it comes to order fulfillment. Stuff like free 2-day shipping, same-day delivery, and in-store pickup are default settings, and retailers worldwide struggle to keep up.
Very few owners operate with the warehousing and supply chain capabilities of Amazon or Walmart. Still, with the right strategies, technologies, and partnerships (usually including Amazon), some retailers can offer services such as same-delivery to their customers.
The percentage of retail sales online has registered a steady growth both in value and in the number of goods and services in offer. While ecommerce accounted for only 7.4% of global retail sales in 2015, the figure went up to 11.9% in 2018. This steady trend is a strong indicator for businesses to shift their marketing efforts online. By 2021, the share is expected to rise even more, up to 17.5% - so start working on that eCommerce store ASAP.
Even free shipping isn’t good enough for some customers, at least not anymore. Offers from top online retailers such as Amazon Prime have made two-day shipping standard procedure, so cutting down on shipping time is vital for any ecommerce business looking to stay afloat. Importantly, this trend continued well into 2019, as brands evaluated new ways to differentiate themselves from an increasingly saturated crowd. And no, this doesn’t necessarily require drone delivery systems.
With access to communities and boutique offerings matching their unique, niche tastes, young urban consumers have developed a discerning consumption perspective. For these guys,
the very act of shopping, from interacting with physical merchandise, to pampering from store
personnel — represents an experiential journey. In many ways the culminating act, or making a purchase, is an expression of teen-like distinctive identity.
When consumers decide to purchase a particular product they then expect a personalized experience (30%) and smart recommendations (30%), according to Vend’s 2018 Retail Trends and Predictions Report. To better understand customers' current mindset, TimeTrade surveyed more than 5,000 consumers about their shopping habits and perceptions and 100 senior retail executives about their plans with customer experience.
While digital natives, such as Bonobos, Casper, Glossier, and Warby Parker all began online, many others are launching and expanding their physical presence. Sometimes, an online store will even build a sort of phantom brick-and-mortar store, one where it’s impossible to actually make a purchase, a strange new entry in the history of the US retail industry.
It would be a product pick-up and replacement stop, and in the case of the fashion industry, a try-on. Some particularly fancy brands will also offer additional content as part of their retailtainment efforts and offer haircuts, refreshing drinks, and/or a live performance.
Retail sales revenue data indicates that it pays to shop locally. The $68 will flow into salaries for locally employed folks, local resources, and other expenses. This is why checking out the local boutique is often a better idea than driving to the mall and funding huge corporate chain stores.
The desired tools include mobile devices for looking up customer profiles and recommending products, and access to online channels for tracking down the product online, and then in-store. If a customer visits a top retailers’ store, and shows the clerk the screenshot of a particular item they were hoping to purchase, they expect the item immediately, as the clerk should know where everything is from the get-go. That’s just one of the examples.
Click-and-collect facilitates consumers’ desire for flexibility and convenience removes the burden of shipping costs and drives consumers back to the brand for repeat purchases. This approach is quickly becoming standard practice for large retailers, such as Walmart and Lowes, with pre-existing physical infrastructure and significant financial assets.
Other reasons why top online retail sites can’t beat an in-store shopping experience include: products look different (41%), long delivery time (34%), high shipping costs (25%), complicated return process (16%). This stat can be used by online businesses to improve their performance. And offline stores can also improve by bringing products closer to the customers. That can be done by using emerging technologies like AI and virtual reality.
As it turns out, global and US retail industry statistics indicate that it’s younger men that are driving this phenomenon: 59% of males in the 18-34 age range, versus a significantly lower 41% of 18-34 year-old females, say they visit stores to see, touch, and feel products prior to ordering them online. What’s more, 28% of these young men say they always or frequently do so, compared with 20% of young women.
Walmart is the most popular store in the US. More than half of all shoppers in the country visit a Walmart location in a given month. No other store can claim a majority of Americans as customers. Current retail statistics show Walmart’s net sales of $482 billion are bigger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of some nations. Walmart may be synonymous with discounts and bargains on everything from toilet paper to tempeh, but keep in mind that it began as a humble five and dime store in Benton, Arkansas. There’s hope for all small retailers out there.
(Defining The Future of Retail, 2019)
The numerous visitors shop in 11,300 Walmart stores and numerous ecommerce websites under 58 banners in 27 countries. Shopping mall statistics from the 2019 retail report indicate that the strong digital growth, at 43% last quarter, has now propelled Walmart to within spitting distance of the No. 3 post position, displacing Apple, at roughly 4% of retail sales.
A retail strategy that operates multiple channels can result in higher customer satisfaction. Customer presence in-store increases, as does the value of sales to ecommerce. Also, an in-store experience allows business owners to entice audiences’ senses with complimentary drinks, snacks, and an overall friendly atmosphere.
(Mobile Wallet Generations)
Gen Z shoppers were 8% more likely than other respondents to be influenced by the availability of financing, given that they likely have lower incomes to support their spending.
A study from the Pew Research Center reveals that 79% of US adults have made an online purchase. What’s interesting is that 51% of Americans have used a mobile device for online shopping.
According to Mobile Marketer retailing statistics, mcommerce sales are expected to surpass ecommerce sales this year. Now let’s see if the digital commerce forecast from this source could come true by the end of the year by taking a look at what percentage of ecommerce is mobile right now.
According to the 2018 Synchrony Retailer Mobile Apps study, over half of those who downloaded retailer app(s) did so in order to make use of an app-only coupon or discount. Naturally, this eCommerce marketing strategy doesn’t immediately convert all users into repeat customers. Still, almost 50% actually used the app to make one or more purchases, adding up to a satisfactory result.
Sales Force got insights into shopper behavior based on research of over 2,000 US consumers. Increasingly, cloud, social, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), and AI are empowering customers to research and shop in new ways.
Mcommerce is the biggest retail industry news. As eMarketer, the leading research firm forecasts, mobile commerce will account for 53.3% of all retail ecommerce sales in the US by 2021. In 2018, 39.6% of retail commerce was mobile. According to eMarketer, in 2020 mobile commerce will be only 1% below half of US retail ecommerce sales, and is expected to surpass them the following year.
Global retail sales were projected to amount to around $28 trillion by 2020, up from approximately $22 trillion in 2016. The retail industry encompasses the journey of a product or service.
This typically starts with the manufacturing of a product and ends with a purchase by a consumer from a retailer. Retail establishments come in many forms such as grocery stores, restaurants, and bookshops.
A 2018 retail sales report forecasts that as many as 850 physical stores will pop-up across the nation in the next five years. There’s nothing peculiar about this prediction, except for the fact that these stores will be opened by around 100 leading digitally native brands. With the rise of consumers’ omnichannel expectations - and high ones, too - online brands are now planning to open brick-and-mortar locations.
(State of Retailing Online)
Most of the retailers surveyed say they’ll invest in new product assortments, a good idea to attract customers to their stores. However, almost an equal number said they’ll invest in their people through training, salaries, and other resources.
New products were the top investment priority for nearly two-thirds of the retailers surveyed. A close second were investments in employees through training, salaries, and other resources. New products attract more customers and well-trained staff engage with them in meaningful ways, making for an excellent shopping experience. The sellers who are able to make both investments will reap the most rewards.
(Bain & Co.)
This is a great opportunity for luxury brands, but it’s also a challenge, since younger consumers think and shop differently from their parents. Many insightful retailing blog posts indicate Millennials seek and find brands they want, regardless of channel. Of course, they prefer to shop online, but they also value experiences and will enter a store if it delivers something unique.
(CNBC) (Tech Crunch)
Amazon is now taking such a large piece of the online retail cake that it will quickly be making higher profits than all other online retailers combined.
What is retail marketing for small businesses when Amazon’s closest competitors are falling so far behind they’re not really competitors? With a 6.6% share of eCommerce sales, eBay holds a very distant second place. Apple comes in third at 3.9%, while Walmart occupies fourth place. Rounding up the top five, The Home Depot comes in with a share of 1.5%.
That percentage is an industry-wide average, an amalgamation of many different categories, the main argument to the online vs in store shopping issue. The percentage of ecommerce sales varies markedly by product segment, from around 2% for groceries to more than 20% for apparel to the overwhelming majority of sales in categories where products can be digitally delivered, like music, books, and games.
Despite the rumors that the tariffs on Chinese goods would increase to 25%, China and the U.S. decided to restart trade talks and put the new rounds of tariffs on hold. Still, even the existing tariffs may force retailers to evaluate whether it makes sense to exit certain categories if they cannot sell product profitably.
The intrinsic value of a “made in the USA” label might no longer be enough to warrant shifting some product manufacturing to US soil. Retail statistics suggest that the UK and EU faced many of the same challenges throughout 2019.
According to the findings of a 2018 Gartner report, more and more VCAs are implemented on mobile apps, websites, and social networks, to help businesses handle customer requests. The proliferation of VCAs is fueled by improvements in natural-language processing, intent-matching capabilities, and machine learning.
The new report by the Capgemini Research Institute titled ‘Building the Retail Superstar: How unleashing AI across functions offers a multi-billion dollar opportunity’ offers some interesting findings on how the application of AI can increase your bottom line.
Data scientist job postings increased 31% year over year in 2019, a 256% jump from 2013.Because data scientists, like AI researchers, are so in demand, they often command extremely high salaries. An entry level data scientist or one with little experience makes over $100,000 a year, according to Glassdoor. Since paying such high salaries is unaffordable for most small retail companies, the ones who can afford to bring on a data scientist to the team are likely to gain a significant competitive advantage.
Research from Boston Retail Partners shows 51% of retailers now offer some form of same-day delivery. Many small-time retailers are using third-party delivery services such as Lyft or Uber to stay competitive. Others choose to join Amazon and enjoy the many benefits the retail giant provides. The increasing need for instant gratification in most consumers demands same-day delivery solutions.
Now it’s time to make use of the recent retail trends and info and optimize your business accordingly. Customers still enjoy shopping in-store more than anywhere else, and this gives you an opportunity to build a unique brand and draw your customers in with warm, honest customer service.
Furniture wears out, consumables require replenishment, and fashions change, all spurring people to head out and shop at their favorite stores. It’s up to retailers to woo them with better products and services. Small, in the case of retail, may be the better option as consumers move away from malls and big department stores and back to the corner shop.
The growing monopoly of huge corporate store chains such as Walmart, Costco, and Home Depot can be disheartening to a number of local, retail SMBs. Still, 2018 and 2019 retail statistics show local SMBs, especially those with an omnichannel presence, can build lucrative niche businesses, especially if they differentiate through branding.
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