9 retail trends to watch in 2021

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By: Retail Dive

The pandemic’s arrival in March 2020 meant that it didn’t make Retail Dive’s trends to watch last year, but it completely upended all expectations for the year.

The health crisis was closely followed by the whole industry throughout 2020, courtesy of the havoc it wreaked on retail operations. Stores were forced closed, employees were furloughed or laid off, rent was skipped, supply chains were strained.

Headed into 2021, retailers have survived the immediate triage period, but the pandemic is still very much present and will continue to shape the year ahead. Indeed, the ability of the crisis to cause more problems, or abate them, depending on how the world recovers will perhaps have the largest effect on the industry this year.

The pandemic is a thread weaving through almost every trend the industry faces in 2021, in some cases speeding up inevitable changes many years in the making and in others sparking unexpected developments. Whatever this year brings, the changes driven by the convergence of the pandemic and longstanding industry tailwinds will influence what retailers do and reshape the industry.

1. The pandemic will forever alter the brick-and-mortar landscape

2. The culling of weak retailers will continue apace

3. The generalist giants will try to consolidate their 2020 gains

4. The distinction between DTC and traditional retailers will continue to blur

5. Some pandemic pivots may not stick

6. The e-commerce boom will continue, but so will its challenges

7. Apparel attempts to bounce back (or at least not bleed out more)

8. Consumers will be stuck, and that’s a problem for retailers

9. New owners take center stage


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