Retail trends are heavily influenced by the fluctuations of the global market and ubiquitous consumer behavior. According to a study on Personal Consumption Expenditures, in 2018 American households spent a total of $12.9 trillion, 20% of which was spent on non-durable goods like clothing, food and energy. The imposed tariffs on China, and now Mexico, where a majority of these goods are manufactured, will likely drive up costs and impact American shopping habits in the 2019 holiday season but for now, the summer shopping season is safe.
A prequel to the consumer habits of Gen-Z, who favor cautious and conscientious decision-making before making a purchase, we’ve already seen a shift in consumer shopping habits with a lean towards sustainability in fashion and Marie-Kondo inspired minimalism. The first digital-native generation, Gen-Z are 46% more likely than the average shopper to research items on mobile devices while in-store before making purchases.
This summer, the key trends to watch run the gamut from enhanced mobile technology to branded experiences for humans — and their animal companions — to sustainable fashion with a twist and a spotlight on men’s skincare. Here’s my take on the five retail trends to watch this season:
1. THE BRANDED CAFE EXPERIENCE
Food brings people together and brands are taking that to heart, launching cafes and restaurants to connect with their consumer base. The most notable opening this year, Tiffany’s Blue Box Cafe, which created an experiential shopping environment for visitors to browse store inventory while drinking tea. Next up, Godiva’s parlor cafe which aims to showcase specialty products and ingredients not available in-store. Dating app Bumble launched a cafe/wine bar this month to provide members with an in-person meeting place. And GenTech, an emerging leader in the high-end CBD food and drinks space plans to launch a CBD-infusion cafe later this year.
2. I, ROBOT REALITY CLOSER THAN YOU THINK
Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant (and Amazon competitor), has transformed the supermarket into an AI-fueled retail experience completely driven by its mobile app. Hema showcases how retailers can integrate technology into every transaction from product information to scanning selections and completing payment, seamlessly linking the online and offline experience. In addition to the retail store and distribution center, Hema houses a restaurant managed by robots, a concept that is catching on across China. Rival JD.com recently launched its own interpretation of the robotic restaurant and with Google’s $500 million investment in their efforts, there is much speculation about how AI might factor in its advancement.
3. MAN, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL
With nearly $165 billion in revenue predicted by 2022, according to Allied Market Research the men’s personal care industry is a growing segment. In 2018, men’s skincare products enjoyed a 7% jump in sales, with the increased demand for grooming goods, discreet moisturizers and hair care products. The concept of skin and hair care for men has been brewing for a while with the success of Harry’s, the Dollar Shave Club, and Baxter of California. Even high-end designers, like Chanel, have staked a claim on this growing segment, launching its first made-for-men skincare and cosmetics line, “Boy De Chanel,” last September.
4. MUST LOVE DOGS (AND ICE CREAM)
North American consumer spending in pet care is predicted to grow to $281 billion in the next five years, with pet services (grooming, boarding, training) as the leading category for growth. The humanizing of pets has generated a stream of revenue with canine-friendly restaurateurs marking their territory on the estimated $64 billion people spend on their pets annually from coast to coast. The folks at Ollie’s artisanal ice cream parlor in Bushwick dish out frozen desserts specially made for dogs and their humans. Ray’s and Stark, a posh eatery in Los Angeles, serves up a chef-prepared gourmet Barky Brunch for its canine patrons and their human guests at an open-air patio. And Boozehounds Dog Bar in Orlando offers an off-leash fenced dog park with a bar catered to pet parents. Retailers are slowly coming around to allowing non-service dogs in-store, and in the meantime, there is DogSpot, a high-tech climate-controlled dog house where dogs can chill while their owners run errands. DogSpot is currently available in select cities in the Midwest with plans to expand to the Mid-Atlantic region later this year.
5. PLANT-BASED FOOTWEAR
Shoes made out of pineapple and corn? Yep, plant-based products are making a splash this summer and leading the charge in offering comfort and flexibility in the footwear market. Scoots’ artisan footwear made in Portugal has replaced synthetic materials most-often used in vegan leather production with plant-based materials. Vivobarefoot recently launched a unisex shoe with over 30% renewable plant-based materials, in support of their mission to produce the most sustainable shoes on the planet. And then there’s NATIVE, an innovative footwear brand from Canada that launched “The Plant Shoe,” a 100% biodegradable and entirely plant-based product, made from corn, eucalyptus, pineapple husk and jute.
I don’t know that we’re ready for robots to do everything (Judy Jetson style), but sustainable kicks are definitely fashion forward. And as for planning a night out on the town with your pup, we’ll have to see how Larry David feels about that. What trends do you predict for this summer? Join the conversation online and follow me on Twitter for regular updates and musings about commercial real estate and the retail industry.
Anjee continues to be an insatiable enthusiast of all things retail. She’s a student of culture with a pulse on future shoppers and the fleeting trends constantly changing the retail landscape … driving retailers, landlords and developers crazy!