Retail industry – outlook & opportunities

Mar 14, 2019
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

So how is retail faring in 2019? I recently participated in an industry outlook seminar put on by industry experts at Moss Adams, which offered valuable insight.

What we know is that the nation’s economy continues to show strength.  The 2018 GDP grew by 2.9 percent, the largest since the 2007/2008 recession. Although interest rates are on the rise, they are still some of the lowest in history. The unemployment rate is at historic lows and consumers continue to demonstrate confidence in their spending potential.

However, there are still some uncertainties impacting the retail industry.

The tariff threat, although still very real, seems to be moving in the right direction.  Inflation rates are relatively low despite rising wages. For the first time, life expectancy has declined over three straight years. We continue to witness a tremendous amount of Chapter 7 bankruptcies that move quickly to complete liquidation.

Recent statistics show that retail is a $2.6 trillion industry in the U.S.

In 2021, more than 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online. That’s up from 1.66 billion global digital buyers in 2016. The use of digital technology continues to impact retailers and their relationships with consumers. As the industry evolves, no longer is retail defined as online vs brick-and-mortar but rather online vs offline.

Physical stores that thrive have successfully incorporated multi-channel approaches to meeting their customers’ shopping preferences. But, it’s still worth noting that 90 percent of transactions are happening in stores where the dollars change hand.

The key to success in 2019 is in bringing the online experience into stores to support the H2H (human connection) factor.

Experts agree, in order to be successful, retailers will need to incorporate the following strategies:

  • Walk in the customers’ shoes
  • Make training staff a priority
  • Ensure that quality is #1
  • Validate localization and personalization
  • Put customers at the center