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The Future Of Retail 2021

A playbook for resilient retail

Without a doubt, 2020 was a year of unprecedented retail reckoning. While many businesses were forced to temporarily or permanently close shop, there were some who found opportunities within the challenges of the year’s circumstances. The most successful retailers and brands of 2020 were those who invested well ahead to build resilience, focusing on securing the infrastructure and culture to pivot at a moment’s notice and respond to changes affecting consumers and the market.

This year’s Future of Retail Report is designed not only to help brands and retailers respond to the events of 2020, but also to build their business for 2021 and beyond. In this report, you’ll be asked to honestly assess where you are as a company today and identify where your next key investments should be (for more details, check out our Retail Resilience Rubric at the back of this report). If you commit to organizational introspection and infrastructure redevelopment now, your company will be better equipped to weather—and thrive within—the unknown and unexpected. 

This report also contains the results of a live survey with 1,000 US online-shoppers with a 50/50 gender split. The survey was conducted in November 2020 in partnership with Suzy, the real-time, online consumer-polling platform.

Proprietary consumer polling results

  • Only 23% of consumers will shift their spending back to in-store after the pandemic
  • As many US consumers are willing to share personal information with retailers and brands as those who won’t (47%)
  • Consumers are signaling their in-store intentions through online research before their visit: 45% researched online regarding store inventory/availability and 33% researched online regarding safety protocols/measures

The gap between leaders and laggards is growing wider

The first half of 2020 saw a record round of retail bankruptcies, liquidations, and store closings. 29 national retailers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy within the first 3 quarters of the year.
“The Pandemic Has Pushed Retail Bankruptcies to a Record.” Barron’s, 2020

Digital commerce has shown exponential growth, requiring new capabilities

U.S. e-commerce sales will reach $794.50 billion this year, up 32.4% year-over-year. E-commerce sales will reach 14.4% of all U.S. retail spending this year and 19.2% by 2024.
“US Ecommerce Growth Jumps To More Than 30%, Accelerating Online Shopping Shift By Nearly 2 Years.” eMarketer, 2020

Navigating ongoing disruption becomes the new normal

“The coronavirus pandemic has altered not only retailers’ financial outlook for the year but also their long-term directions.”
“6 Ways The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Forever Altered The Retail Landscape.” CNBC, 2020


Published December 2020