As 2016 swings into full gear, retail industry professionals want to know: what hot topics and significant trends will take center stage this year? Here are a few predictions for the retail industry trends of the new year:
1) E-commerce sales will continue to rise. According to the National Retail Foundation’s Thanksgiving Weekend 2015 Consumer Survey, more people shopped online than in-store over Black Friday weekend. The New York Times reports that Amazon now accounts for 26% of US online sales, up from 22% in 2014. Brick-and-mortar retailers continue to struggle to keep pace with Amazon’s vast inventory and lower prices—and the convenience of online shopping in general.
2) Mobile will gain traction. With the migration to chip-and-PIN cards in 2015, the checkout process became safer—but it is also slower. Some experts in the card payment industry think this delay, despite only being a few seconds long, could incentivize consumers to begin using mobile payment technology. Apple and Samsung have offered mobile payment systems for some time, but Walmart became the first retailer with its own payment solution on both Android and iOS when it announced Walmart Pay last month. Mobile technology also allows retailers to use geotargeting tools to identify and serve specific audiences.
3) More off-price stores will open. In 2016, US retailers will respond to consumer demand for value by opening more stores designed around the concept of off-price retailing. A recent Forbes article reported that in 2015, more than 604 off-price units opened, including 27 Nordstrom Rack stores, 6 Macy’s Backstage stores, and 14 Saks Off Fifth stores, among others. Growth in the discounted merchandise arena is expected to continue at a fast pace this year.
It’s impossible to predict with any precision the retail industry trends of 2016. However, retailers would do well to bear in mind these potential changes as they rethink their approaches to business in a new year.