What do the latest retail statistics tell us about retailing in 2021? You might be surprised.
We have assembled all the numbers you need, including store operations, shopper behaviors, how retailers market their businesses, and much more.
If you own a retail store or are considering shop ideas for a new one, take a look at the stats below.
Retail Statistics: The Big Picture
The retail market size is continuously growing. According to a report from the National Retail Federation, the US retail sales in 2020 grew 6.7% over 2019 in spite of ubiquitous public health emergencies in the country.
What’s more, retail trade added 4.8 trillion to GDP in 2020, reports the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Being a retail business owner yourself, you must be curious to know what the future holds for the retail industry.
We have listed here key retail sales statistics to help you understand the present and future of the retail sector:
- The total revenue from retail sales in the United States was $4.06 trillion during 2020 (NRF)
- US retail sales depressed during the first two quarters of 2020 due to COVID-19, but things started to improve with the 3rd quarter. And during the 4th quarter of 2020, the US retail reached $1.47 trillion (US Census Bureau)
Are you thinking about how the US retail trade industry fared during the first quarter of 2021?
According to the US Census Bureau report, retail sales reached $1.58 trillion in the first quarter of 2021.
The National Retail Federation, in its forecast, estimates that retail sales will exceed $4.44 trillion in 2021. Considering these retail stats, you can expect that the future of retail will be bright in 2021.
Here are interesting data from the National Retail Federation report to help you assess how big the retail industry is:
- Retail supports 1 in 4 American jobs, which is over 50 million American workers
- The contribution of the retail industry reaches around $1 trillion Direct Labor Income
- The retail industry in the US accounts for 18.7 % of total gross domestic product (GDP)
- Retail is the largest private-sector employer in the US
If you have ever wondered how much of the U.S. economy is retail, now you know. And if you are wondering how many retail stores are in the US, the number 4.2 million.
What can you expect when you talk about global retail sales?
According to a report from Statista, global retail sales are expected to touch 26.69 trillion in 2022.
Small Retail Businesses
Small retailers, with 50 or fewer employees, rule the retail industry. Following data from SCORE research prove the point:
- Small retailers account for 98.6% of all retailer firms in the US
- Small and medium-sized retailers hire almost 40% of all retail employees
- The average monthly revenue reported by small retailers is $22,341
- Small and medium-sized retailers have an average gross margin of 51%
The above small retail statistics indicate that small retailers are not at all small when it comes to contributing to the US economy.
Specialty stores are often a part of small retail store businesses. Unlike department stores that sell a wide variety of items, specialty stores offer niche-specific products.
According to a report, small specialty retail stores have a market size of $33.4bn in the US.
Want to know more about small specialty retail store businesses in the country?
The following retail stats from IBISWorld will help you understand the landscape of small specialty retail stores in the US:
- There are around 131,470 small specialty retail stores in the US in 2021
- The number of small specialty stores has declined 0.8% per year on average between 2016-2021
- Small specialty stores have annualized growth of -0.8% between 2016-2021
The above data hint that the path to success is difficult for small specialty store owners.
Therefore, you should get ready to walk the extra mile if you’re thinking about opening a store to sell niche-specific products.
Doing thorough market research, implementing the best retail marketing strategy, and showing empathy in customer service are a few proven tactics to grow a small retail store.
Online shopping enables you to place an order from the comfort of your home. But people still love visiting a store, experiencing products, and shopping in-store.
The following stats tell the growth story of in-store sales:
- In-store sales are expected to reach $21.4 trillion globally by 2024 (Statista)
- The US physical store sales are projected to exceed $3.3 trillion in 2021 (NRF)
- Non-e commerce sales were 86% of total retail sales in the US during Q2021 (US Census Bureau)
These numbers validate that people love to buy from a physical store. One reason why customers want to buy in-store is they can experience products.
A survey from Retail Dive states 62% of customers prefer in-store shopping because they can see, touch, feel, and try the items.
The same Retail Dive survey also notes that 49% of customers like to buy from physical stores because they want to buy now and fast. That said, improving the in-store customer experience can delight your customers and increase sales.
Are you interested in knowing the total number of brick-and-mortar retail stores in the US?
Statista reported that there were 328,208 physical stores in 2020 in the US. And convenience stores make the largest part of this number.
Here are all the critical stats on physical stores that matter:
- 73% of customers say that beacon-triggered content and offers boost their likelihood to buy items during a physical store visit (Synchrony)
- Organizing a retail event in a physical store can be a good way to pull consumers. 58% of consumers are interested in attending a retail event in the future (SCORE)
- The retail workforce mainly includes cashiers, retail salespersons, or first-line supervisors of retail salespersons. These occupations account for 6.3% of the total US labor force (US Census Bureau)
If you’re thinking about starting your own physical store, here are a few low-cost retail business ideas to explore.
Indeed, the covid 19 forced many store owners to close their operations in 2020. But with the economy getting on track, one can expect newer stores to open up.
According to research from IHL Group, five retailers are opening stores for every retailer closing stores.
Covid 19 started to show its impact on the retail industry from April 2020. With nationwide lockdowns in force, many distribution centers and supply chain logistics got disrupted. Some predicted we were inching closer to the retail apocalypse.
However, in reality, retail as a whole registered healthy growth in 2020. The National Retail Federation reported that retail sales in 2020 grew 6.7% over 2019.
My friend, the future of retail is bright and you can rest assured that the retail apocalypse is not going to happen anytime soon.
We have compiled all the critical shopping statistics here to help you keep up with the latest retail trends.
The coronavirus pandemic fueled the growth of e commerce. But consumers love to visit retail establishments as they can touch, feel, or try out products.
However, male shopping behavior is different from female shopping behavior.
Here are two stats from Retail Dive to prove the point:
- 66% of female consumers say that trying-it-out is a lead factor to do in-store shopping
- 54% of male consumers prefer in-store shopping because they can take items home immediately
Do customers think about the environment? The answer is a big resounding YES. Customers of all ages want brands and retailers to become more sustainable.
However, consumers from younger generations prefer sustainable brands more. According to the State of Consumer Spending from First Insight, 62% of Gen Z consumers prefer to buy from sustainable brands. But only 39% of baby boomers want to do the same.
When it comes to packaging, sustainable packaging is critical across customers of all ages. 55% of baby boomers and 68% of Gen Z customers say that sustainable packaging is important for them, reports the State of Consumer Spending.
Following are valuable data from Salesforce Connected Shoppers Report that you should also consider:
- 81% of customers discover and evaluate new products in-store
- 62% of customers buy more than what initially intended during in-store shopping
- 67% of customers admit that they bought something else while returning a product
The above stats signal that customer experience plays a vital role in increasing a store’s sales. The better customer experience, the more sales.
And poor customer experience can cost you sales. The same Connected Shoppers Report from Salesforce finds that 25% of consumers have recently taken their business elsewhere just because of poor in-store shopping experience.
Shopper behavior and consumer trends are constantly changing.
As a small business owner who wants to create an unappareled customer experience, you should keep tabs on changing shopper behavior.
We have collected all the essential stats to understand the latest retail trends:
- 65% of the shopping budget is spent in-store (BigCommerce)
- 47% of customers are willing to pay more for the customer experience that exceeds their expectations (Accenture)
- 53% of consumers are more likely to buy from a local store that supports the community (Zyp Media)
- 56% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase in a store that recognizes them by a name (Accenture)
- Retail events can bring in more customers. 85% of shoppers are more likely to buy a brand’s products after participating in the brand’s events and experiences (Statista)
Do you want to know how much money consumers spend when they visit a retail store?
According to a report from ?First Insight, 71% of consumers spend more than $50, and 34% of consumers spend more than $100 when shopping in-store.
When consumers go for in-store shopping, it is more likely to happen that they will end up adding additional items to their cart. In fact, 78% of men and 89% of women buy additional items during in-store shopping, notes First Insight report.
That said, cross-selling can be an excellent strategy to boost sales in your store.
Online to Offline Shopping
The Internet has changed consumer behavior. Thanks to cheap data plans, more and more smartphone users are using Google Search before buying in-store.
Look at the following stats to understand how online search is impacting the in-store shopping experience:
- 65% of consumers conduct online product research before entering a store (Retail Dive)
- Digital interactions influence 56 cents of every dollar spent in a store (Deloitte)
The above stats stipulate that digital experience matters even when consumers are visiting a shop to buy products.
So brands should make sure that they offer a seamless online experience to their consumers, irrespective of their industries.
Here are some additional stats from Retail Dive to help you understand the importance of digital experience:
- 58% of consumers use their smartphones in-store to research products or look up product information
- 54% of customers do price checks and comparisons in-store using their mobile phones
Online shopping can be top of mind for many consumers, but retail companies shouldn’t ignore the importance of having physical stores. Why?
61% of consumers would rather buy from brands that have physical locations than the ones that have only web stores, reports Google.
Gift cards are a great tool for retailers to build relationships with customers, increase brand awareness, and bring more customers.
Grocery stores, convenience stores, or stores offering food services, retail businesses of almost all kinds can reap the benefits from gift cards.
Here are some important statistics on gift cards from the Incentive Research Foundation:
- 52% of US businesses use gift cards
- 68% of American businesses employ open-loop cards that can be used virtually everywhere
- 54% of US businesses use closed-loop cards, which are used by one vendor only
If you’re being skeptical about the success of gift cards, you should rest your worries.
According to Small Business Gift Card study, 90% of consumers who get gift cards visit stores to redeem their gift cards.
Here are some additional stats from the Small Business Gift Card study to prove the effectiveness of gift cards:
- Nearly 4 out 5 consumers visit a store to redeem their gift card even if it is worth $0.86
- 56% of consumers find gift cards a preferred way to reward their loyalty
- 60% of shoppers prefer plastic cards
Though gift cards can offer multiple benefits to your business, it is often not easy to implement a gift card strategy. In fact, 1 in 3 small businesses would consider using a gift card program if it is easy to execute, as found in the Small Business Gift Card study.
To help you out, we have collected here east-to-implement gift card promotion ideas for your business.
Retail Marketing Statistics
The global retail market is growing. What does your retail sales report say?
Brands that are registering growth are the ones that are implementing the best marketing strategies such as content marketing, social media, email marketing SEO, etc.
No one can grow by just opening a retail store. Jewelry stores or grocery stores, all kinds of retailers have to create awareness and build relationships with customers to succeed. And marketing helps do those things.
We have compiled all the critical retail marketing statistics here so that you can get an idea of what retailers are doing to increase sales.
Retailer Use of Social Media
Social media is not only for increasing ecommerce sales. Many retail brands are effectively leveraging different social networks to grow their businesses.
According to a report from eTail and Stackla, 89% of retailers surveyed are either currently using social commerce, implementing it, or planning to do so within 24 months at the latest.
Here are some additional data from the report:
- 75% of retailers will either increase or maintain their investment in social media marketing within the next 12 months.
- 62% of businesses believe that social commerce has helped them improve customer communication
- The most popular platforms for social commerce are – Instagram (92%), Facebook (77%), Twitter (57%), and Pinterest (47%)
My friend, strategically created social commerce strategies can build awareness, influence purchase decisions, drive growth, and more.
Here are some stats from Smart Insights to prove it:
- 74% of people use social media to guide their purchase decisions
- 41% of independent retailers rate social media (SM) as a very effective marketing tactic
- 71% of customers who have good SM experience with brands are likely to recommend those brands to others
Retail SEO Stats
Many brands can think that they should not focus on SEO as they don’t own Estores. It is a wrong perception. Every business needs SEO.
Even if you have created your business website just to provide information to your audience, your business website needs SEO to get found on Google.
Here are two stats from Think with Google to help you understand the latest retail trends:
- 48% of shoppers say that they use Google to get help on what to buy
- 60% of customers have reached out to a business directly using the search results
If you want to know how many retailers find SEO effective, the actual number may surprise you.
According to research, 85% of retail business owners said SEO and paid ads were the most effective strategy to find/acquire customers.
Retailers often serve their local communities, and Google My Business (GMB) is a free yet effective tool to target local audiences.
According to Bright Local research, 5% of GMB listing views result in direction requests, calls, or website visits.
However, 56% of local retailers have yet to claim their Google My Business Profile, reports the Local Marketing Institute.
Claim your GMB listing and improve local SEO to target a local audience.
You can explore this local SEO checklist to know more about how you can be better at catering to your local audience.
Advertising by Retailers
Retailers, regardless of their industries, run advertising campaigns to inform, persuade, and remind their audiences.
If you want to run paid ads for your business and don’t know where to start, the following stats can work as a benchmark:
- The US digital ad spend in the retail industry is expected to account for $35.48 billion in 2021 (eMarketer)
- The US outdoor ad market is projected to touch $3.84 billion by 2023 (SBT)
- Print advertising spending in the US is expected to touch $24.01 billion by 2021 (Statista)
How much advertising budget should you fix for your store?
The answer is 1% of your revenue. According to Sageworks’ data, small businesses spend 1% of their revenue on advertising.
In case you struggling to come up with ideas for your next ad campaign, these small business advertising ideas can get you started instantly.
Reviews on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, or Better Business Bureau can sway shoppers.
The following stats from Bright Local prove the point:
- 94% of shoppers say that positive reviews encourage them to use a business
- 92% of buyers have accepted that negative reviews make them less likely to buy from a brand
- 79 % of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends
Despite the fact that reviews play a critical role in brand building, not all businesses proactively monitor reviews. In fact, an average marketer spends only 17% of their time on online reputation management.
Here are some additional review data from Womply to consider:
- 75% of businesses don’t respond to reviews
- Businesses that claim their free listings on at least 4 review sites earn 58% more revenue
- Businesses that don’t reply to any reviews earn 9% less revenue than average
- Brands with less than 82 total reviews earn 15% less revenue than average
If you’re serious about the online reputation management of your retail store, here are 26 business reviews sites where customers can rate you. Check these sites and engage with your audience there.
Loyalty and Rewards Stats
Companies have been using loyalty and reward points for years to build a base of loyal customers
Why shouldn’t they? After a period of time, loyal customers turn into business builders – buying more and referring new customers.
Here are two key stats on loyalty and reward points:
- 74% of shoppers currently belong to a free loyalty program, while 58% of shoppers belong to a paid loyalty program (Loyalty 360)
- 60% of retailers use a loyalty program as a tool to track consumer activities across omnichannel purchase journey (Retail Touch Points)
If you’re curious about knowing the impact of loyalty programs, look at the following stats from Bond:
- 70% of loyalty program members are more likely to recommend brands having good loyalty programs
- 63% of members modify their spending to earn more loyalty benefits.
What’s more, around 60% of customers agree that earning reward/loyalty points is one the most valued aspects of shopping, reports eMarketer.
That said, a good loyalty program is a surefire way to boost in-store and ecommerce sales. And this brief how to start a loyalty program guide can help you get moving quickly.
How You Can Use These Retail Statistics
So how do you use these statistics? Take a few minutes to jot down what other retailers are doing based on these numbers and what they suggest you can do to increase your success. Specifically, make notes on items such as the following:
- Identify techniques for operating your store more effectively. Do you need to change your hours to compete better? Do you need to invest in technology to do customer service online?
- Note how other small retailers are using digital marketing. What new techniques can you incorporate into your mix? Are you effectively using SEO and mobile maps to acquire new customers?
- Spot potential new customers and products they are interested in. Are there customer demographics you could better target? How can you enhance your customer’s experience and keep them coming back?
For more, see these additional small business statistics.
More in: Small Business Statistics