20 Retail Industry Trends this Year

20 Retail Industry Trends this Year

Changes in the retail industry continue at a rapid pace. To help you keep up, here are 20 retail industry trends culled from various sources. Keep your eye on these trends in 2019 to put your business ahead of the pack.

Retail Industry Trends

Rent, Don’t Buy

“The store of the future will be a place [where] consumers can eat, play, work, learn, discover and borrow things,” says Natalie Berg. The coauthor of Amazon: How The World’s Most Relentless Retailer Will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce described this change in the industry in a recent interview with Retail TouchPoints. Millennials, in particular, want to rent products rather than buying them. Incorporate this idea into your store. And you’ll find yourself on the cutting edge.

Class is in Session 

Teach a class or recruit an employee or local expert to do so to attract new customers and retain old ones. Offer some type of discount for purchases made the day of the class to boost your sales. Or start a VIP club of your best customers and have monthly classes just for them.

Sustainable Shopping

Consumers increasingly understand the waste generated by fast fashion and throwaway consumer products. Say goodbye to conspicuous consumption. More shoppers seek conservation to signal their ethical bona fides. Use sustainable packaging and environmentally friendly materials in your store. Buy from brands that practice sustainability. These decisions put you on the right side of the trend.

Feel the Passion

Authenticity, purpose and social consciousness are all hot buttons for shoppers right now. Consumers want to spend their money with businesses that share their passions. Make sure your marketing clarifies your business mission, and if you’re involved with charitable or other socially responsible organizations, get your customers involved too.

Sensory Stimulation

In an increasingly screen-oriented world, consumers want to stimulate all five senses when they visit a real store. Vision, touch, smell and sound all matter. Differentiate your store from the online experience by focusing on appealing merchandising that encourages touching the products and background music that fits your brand.

Artificial Intelligence

Vend predicts 2019 is the year small retailers will move beyond chatbots to fully explore AI’s power to analyze and leverage data. AI can enable everything from dynamic pricing and demand forecasting to virtual assistants, personalized recommendations and more.

Experiential Retailing

When they do get off the internet and into a brick-and-mortar store, shoppers expect experiences worthy of their efforts. Stores that deliver a unique, memorable experience will have an edge in 2019 and beyond.


From “build your own” products to customized recommendations, personalization is hot. In a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of consumers say they’d like personalized recommendations from retailers, and 79% say personalized service from retail employees determines where they shop. Amazon has raised customer expectations for personalization — can you meet them?

New Payment Options

Millennials aren’t the only ones who want to pay with their phones when they shop — and fast-growth companies are more likely than slow-growth ones to accept mobile payments. To keep your customers happy and your business growing, offer a wide range of payment options.

Buy Now, Pay Later

The modern version of layaway — “Buy now, pay later” — lets shoppers spread payments for everything from clothing to sofas over several months. The tactic can help you attract millennials and other shoppers on tight budgets by making larger purchases more manageable.

Loyalty Programs

Nearly two-thirds of consumers are willing to share their personal data with retailers in return for getting perks like loyalty points or coupons. For small retailers, loyalty programs offer an easy way to gather customer data and use it to turn first-time shoppers into repeat customers.

The Death of the Mall

No, malls aren’t dying — but they are evolving. As more and more department stores close their doors, mall landlords’ new buzzword is “mixed use.” If you’re eyeing a move, there’s opportunity to be found in such malls, which incorporate retail, office and residential space with eateries and entertainment venues.

Short Term Leases

As malls undergo a makeover, Retail TouchPoints predicts growing opportunity for retailers to snap up short-term leases, shared spaces and other low-risk options rather than being locked into a location or lease. This flexibility gives you room to experiment, so take advantage!

Click and Collect

Consumers don’t care where they buy products anymore — online or off — as long as they get what they want. If you have an e-commerce component to your store, make sure shoppers can buy online and pick up their orders in the store. This also benefits your business because most likely, shoppers will buy something else while they’re waiting to pick up their package.

Curated Collections

The overwhelming amount of merchandise online has shoppers on overload. Save them time (and decisions) by presenting a curated selection of the best merchandise in your store so they don’t have to spend hours comparing 72 types of different white T-shirts.

Pop-up Shops

Shopping centers nationwide are pursuing pop-up shops as a way to fill empty retail space. Consumers love pop-up shops that provide a unique, memorable experience. For 2019, try creating a pop-up shop of your own to test a new market, or invite a complementary business into your store as a pop-up.

People Power

Shoppers want more than pure transactions at your retail store (they can get those online). Instead, they seek personal interactions with authentic caring behind them. Focus on your employees, and provide the training, guidance and encouragement they need to be helpful, empathetic and authentic.

Accelerated Expectations

Customers’ expectations for the retail experience are set by the top performers in the industry. Your store needs to meet those expectations by providing a consistent experience everywhere shoppers interact with your business — online, on social media, on the phone and in-store.

Inclusive Marketing

If your retail marketing isn’t inclusive, you’re limiting your customer base. TrendWatching identifies inclusion and diversity as one of retail’s hot trends for the future. Can people with disabilities experience your store without a struggle? Does your marketing portray different body types, genders and ethnicities? The more inclusive you are, the more customers will embrace you.

Mobile Marketing

According to Vend, the number of mobile phone messaging app users is expected to keep growing — from 2.01 billion in 2018 to 2.48 billion in 2021. Text messaging and messaging apps will become even more integral to communication in the next few years, making mobile marketing a smart way to reach your customers. Vend cites Chanel boutiques where sales associates personally text clients about order updates as a good example. Your small business could follow suit, alerting customers when new products come in to the store.

Image: Depositphotos.com

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.