Looking Back And Ahead: What We’ve Learned From 2021 Retail

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Photo from Forbes

By Forbes

If retailers and consumers think price tags are high today, consider all the non-dollar costs that will influence purchase decisions tomorrow, such as time, convenience and (importantly) experience. Any one of these factors could change a shopper’s choice. Every one of them can coalesce to form expectations that are unparalleled and shifting with every rip of the calendar page.

Yet while the year we’re wrapping up may have been an epic challenge, nearly every month of it delivered a “return” gift waiting to be unpacked. Looking back on the top retail news in 2021, here are nine trends and behaviors that should inform retailer strategies in 2022.

  1. Earth-friendly appetites will persist. The emergence of climate-conscious eating, or choosing to eat foods that align with lower CO2 emissions, is gaining market support. This preference extends beyond food to the packaging it comes in. The next year will be telling for eco-friendly innovators, such as Appeel, maker of edible coating said to extend the lifetime of produce, and VerTerra, which makes carryout (and dine-in) products from sustainable sources, such as balsa wood and fallen leaves.
  2. Technology will serve a bigger role in wellness. In 2021, many consumers struggled with anxiety and depression due to the pandemic, and merchants responded with a range of products to improve restfulness, creativity and a sense of purpose. We’re entering 2022 with the continued hum of uncertainty, so the desire for these products will likely continue. Indeed, the digital therapeutics market is projected to reach $14.5 billion by 2027.
  3. Consumers will visit, and shop, new stores. Nearly 3,000 stores were expected to close in 2021, but close to 6,000 retail openings were announced through the first three quarters of the year. Look closer at the kinds of retail experiences that are being added, and one can see the decisions behind these additions hinge on emotional values: the human urge to resume social activities and to pamper ourselves in indulgent, frivolous activities. Retailers that make these experiences easy (and accessible) will more likely attract traffic.

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