Retail 2024: What's Hot?

Retail 2024: What’s Hot?

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It’s that time of year. The predictions for the next 365 days have started popping up throughout business and consumer media. But what about retail?

We’ve seen some major retailers file for bankruptcy this year. Many of them have been covered in the BOOM & BUST series in Street Fight and we’ll continue to analyze these fails (as well as huge successes) throughout 2024. recently released its eight predictions for the retail world (multi-location — MULO — and otherwise). They all seem to make sense, based on the data and what we’ve seen in terms of consumer behaviors in 2023. They are:

  1. The rise of popular events and viral happenings, creating opportunities for local retail, dining, and marketing. As we saw with the Taylor Swift craze, the Barbie Movie, and mega events in Las Vegas (like F1 and U2 at the Sphere), retailers can tie into consumer crazes and leverage them to reach more consumers. For example, Barbiecore (pink clothes, accessories, and Barbie-related toys) skyrocketed as a result of the film. Smart CMOs today need to be tightly tuned-in to pop culture.
  2. Upcycling and recycling are here to stay. Second-hand apparel is on the upswing, and given the sharp focus on sustainability, the report predicts the category will grow in 2024. Look for ways to appeal to those consumers with buy-back programs and tie-ins to earth-friendly organizations and causes. 
  3. Developers and retailers’ brick-and-mortar strategies will revolve around “placemaking.” Corporate spaces and multi-family complexes are being converted to gathering zones. From pickleball complexes to pop-up exhibits to large-scale eatertainment and sportainment centers, real estate professionals are filling empty office spaces and malls with the new version of town squares. Therefore, site selection for brick-and-mortar retailers and other MULO businesses will be critical. Go where the traffic is! It’s an old concept that’s more important than ever.
  4. And, once people get to these places, they’ll be looking for experiences in addition to products and services. MULO retailers and restaurants are looking for ways to engage consumers so they stay longer and build more brand affinity. Digital kiosks to select make-up colors or live interactive cooking classes in a kitchen shop are examples of this. 
  5. The “old normal” is back. Although some consumers have become set on the curbside pick-up, drive-thru, and delivery behaviors they learned during COVID, others enjoy shopping and dining in-person. Know who they are and market to them based on how they want to buy.
  6. Suburban markets are thriving, and smart MULO brands are catering to them. The WFA (work-from-anywhere) trend and the high cost of home-buying has driven many populations to the burbs. Go where the people are — even if it’s 30 miles outside of a major city. Stay on top of migration trends and demographics. 
  7. The grocery industry will continue to consolidate. And know that people are buying groceries at new places, like C-stores and big-box retailers like Target and Walmart. Get creative with how you attract grocery shoppers, like this regional brand did
  8. Media, media, media! When shopping cart advertising and screens in MULO medical offices emerged, they were cutting-edge, but now, every surface in a brick-and-mortar location is a billboard. What are YOU streaming in YOUR store or restaurant?

Another trend that we’re seeing is the “right-sizing” of retail and restaurant operations. Macy’s is experimenting with smaller footprints, and many brands have been popping up in places like cruise ships, campuses, and hotel lobbies. Why invest in just one big location when you can have many — where your consumers are?

You can find the full report here, and watch this column for the latest news and trends.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.