2014 Retail Trends You May Have Missed

There have been important retail trends imbedded in the noisy 24 hour news cycle during 2014 that are of interest to small businesses. Here are the major trends you may have missed:

Holiday Spending

The recent Mother’s Day holiday spending of about $20 billion is the third highest among the nine highest holiday shopping periods during the year. The $600 billion Christmas season is of course by far the biggest shopping period.

Second place is the back to school/college period at about $73 billion. After Mother’s Day in order are Valentine’s Day and Easter which are almost as large as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the Superbowl, Halloween, and finally St. Patrick’s Day.

A Surprise

Menswear sales growth outpaced women’s in 2013 rising 5.2% compared to women’s fashions which increased 3.7%. Volume was relatively flat with most of the men’s increase driven by purchases of more expensive items.

Consumer Omni-Channel Expectations Continue to Rise

According to CFI Group, 95% of consumers sometimes or frequently shop both a retailer’s physical store and web site. 93% want to be able to return items they bought on the web site to the store. 78% consider it important to be able to pick up online orders at the store.

Retailers are playing catch up to these trends. For example, only 30% of retailers allow pickup of online orders at the store.

Smart phone Use in Stores

More than half of all shoppers now use their smart phones while in stores. The unexpected data point is that this is true across all demographics. Seven in ten shoppers over the age of 54 have used their smart phones in stores.

97% of Gen Y (18 to 29 years old) and 91% of Gen X (30 to 43 years old) have done so. 81% of younger baby boomers (44 to 53 years old) refer to their smart phones while shopping in brick and mortar stores.

Right now, most of the usage is for price shopping, but about 60% of price shoppers still bought in the store even if they found a better price online.

What About Paper Catalogs?

You still get them in the mail, right? Maybe you use them, maybe you don’t, but paper catalogs remain part of the omni-channel experience. John Koryl with Neiman Marcus reports delivery of paper catalogs still provokes an immediate increase in online sales.

Apple’s Influence

Apple’s enormous success continues to influence retailers. Let’s take a look at Best Buy, J.C. Penney and Apple itself.

Best Buy Adds Sony Experience to Stores

Sony and Best Buy have announced plans to add a “shop within a shop” to showcase Sony’s high-end TV, audio and camera equipment. Much like the Apple areas within Best Buy, the Sony area will emphasize an interactive experience with the products.

J.C. Penney Recovery

JCP continues to work on a improving sales after trying to adopt Apple’s “fun places to hang out” retail approach that employed designer boutiques within their stores while at the same time discontinuing sales items.

Discounts have now been reinstated to appeal to the almost 50% of JCP shoppers who are over 55 years of age. Same store sales were up 2% for the November through January period compared to a year earlier, ending the previous year’s downward slide.

Apple Continues to Evolve

Even as other retailers are experimenting with Apple’s impressive retail model for ideas, Apple is not resting on its laurels. Last fall, Apple hired Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry’s, to improve both its online and retail stores.

Ms. Ahrendts is expected to make shopping online and in stores more seamless and bring to bear her experience with affordable luxury as Apple expands its brand to include wearable technology and less expensive iPhones.

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