More people are becoming less loyal to their clothing brands, often “breaking up” with their long-time favorite designers. And while leaving a clothing brand (which usually happens as people get older) can be difficult for consumers, it’s a challenge for retailers, too, because it keeps them responding to changing consumer demands.
Using prepaid cards for online and in-store purchases is on the rise, according to a recent report. This growing trend has many advantages for retailers and underbanked consumers. Retailers must pay attention to this trend and make sure that their infrastructure — specifically their point of sale and enterprise resource planning systems — are updated and robust.
The changing ethnic makeup of many areas is transforming retail. Aging baby boomers and the growing Hispanic population are changing the needs of communities across the U.S. Executives must get back to the concept of neighborhood retailing. Retailers must do market research to fully understand product demand and customize each store’s selection.
Occupancies in U.S. shopping centers showed a net gain, according to an article on Businessweek.com. The decline in vacancies are slight, reflecting a slowly improving economic recovery. Rents at shopping centers are holding steady, and rents at regional malls were up. Economists remain cautiously optimistic as they wait for more signs of improvement in the coming months.
The rise of tablet users is giving online shopping a makeover. According to Mashable.com, tablets are outpacing smartphones when it comes to mobile shopping. Retailers must embrace tablet devices and support them in their e-commerce efforts. As consumers’ buying habits and methods continue to change, retailers need to be thinking about choosing flexible business services that allow them to adapt.
As the economy rebounds, the retail industry is among the front-runners in the hiring comeback. According to a report cited by the National Retail Federation, companies are hiring more in response to the improving economy. About 245,000 jobs were added each month between January and March. As the retail sector grows and starts hiring more people, it will cause a ripple effect throughout the economy.
Retail spending in March roared in like a lion: Several retailers and department store chains reported strong March sales, outpacing many industry analysts’ expectations. Warm weather and spring fashions enticed consumer confidence out of hibernation, according to an article on Washingtonpost.com. Ultimately, the economy is doing better, people are feeling better about it and that’s driving sales.
Coupon-clipping may be one of the hottest trends in retail this year, and it’s not just because of the economic downturn. Innovative retailers have made bargain-hunting a fun and exciting hobby. And now, with coupons available online and through daily-deal sites, the hunt has gotten more extreme, with consumers looking for ways to save a buck or two (or even more).
Retail trade shows feature new grocery checkout innovations every year, but grocers are still looking for the fastest way to get consumers out of a supermarket. Smartphone scanners, self-checkout lines and even an MRI-like tube that scans a customer’s items have all been tried, but grocers find the technology often comes up short.
Deals are still driving sales for both high-end consumers and bargain shoppers, despite higher gas prices. The prices likely affect lower-income shopper more than others, but they still look for deals. The CEO of a major outlet center company put it this way: “In good times, they like a bargain,” he said. “In tough times like these, they need a bargain.”
A major home improvement retailer has reported double-digit increases in same-store sales as a warm spell swept the nation. Leading the way: gutters, siding, patio furniture, fencing, exterior paint, pressure washers and other staples of the spring clean-up season. More sales are expected as the retailer slashed prices for “Spring Black Friday.”
Randy Misener, Editor-at-Large
Randy Misener is the Industry Executive responsible for Enterprise Retail Management solutions at Avanade. Majority owned by Accenture, Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture LLP and Microsoft Corporation and has approximately 15,000 professionals in more than 20 countries.