Looking Ahead: Retail Predictions in 2021

Looking Ahead: Retail Predictions in 2021

Looking Ahead: Retail Predictions in 2021 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

A new year marks a new beginning for consumer trends and brands alike. Patiently awaited, 2021 is here and received with widespread optimism. Retail resiliency has sparked innovation as we’ve never seen before, which leaves us wondering what’s next.

We began to think – how could our world of retail shift even further? Looking ahead at 2021, our studio identified consumer trends we believe retailers can anticipate in the near future.

Fashion First

So many of us can’t wait for the opportunity to get out, get together, and shed the comfort clothing we’ve been used to for months. Whether it’s back to the office, back to social gatherings, or even just for fun, fashion will be a key retail component in 2021.

“It’s like back-to-school shopping, but back to the office for adults. Will office dress codes change? I can’t imagine going from PJ pants every day to suits, so I’m glad I’m not in that sort of field.” – Annie Foertmeyer, Designer

For some, the office is just scratching the surface. Market growth for formal wear has grown 1.1%, pushing the industry close to $500M. Expect more formal activities, with a focus on revitalizing the dinner party. Initially, these events will be intimate until the world can get back to large gatherings, but the urge to get dressed up will take over in 2021.

“How many times can you play Monopoly? We’re not ready to hang out in bars, but we are ready to have some adult-focused fun and humor as we gather safely in our homes.” – Mindi Trank, VP of Strategy

On The Road Again

While we won’t see immediate and dramatic changes, people will continue to spend time on the road. Cars, an unsung hero of the pandemic, have been a major bridge between brands and consumers in recent months. Working with El Pollo Loco, we recently reimagined its restaurant fleet to focus on the traveling consumer’s experience in a new digital forward world.

“Hospitality and convenience are changing how we order and pickup. From walk-up, drive-up, drive-thru, and curbside, all of these forms need to consider how to make it an enjoyable experience for the customer. These also take over existing in-store experiences (retail and dining), leaving a huge challenge on how these services fit and are effectively communicated into remodels.” – Jeff Wietrzykowski, Creative Director

Restaurants aren’t the only beneficiary of drive-thru convenience. Designer Breyanna Grizzard also believes we’ll see a new take on drive-thru in the world of grocery. In our work with the drive-thru convenience store chain, Swiss Farms, we saw the consumer demand for the speed and convenience of the drive-thru combined quality products and fresh foods typically found in a grocery store. This concept is even more relevant now as many grocers and c-stores are looking to accommodate consumers with contact-less experiences. While grocery delivery continues to experience an all-time high, consumers are looking for more control in receiving goods. Rather than a 2-4 hour window, maybe not even the same day, the grocery drive-thru model provides a solution for immediate need and frequent shoppers. 

As well as the drive-thru, new experiences are coming to life in the form of the drive-in. Artists, cinemas, and experiences alike will continue to capitalize on the drive-in’s nostalgic appeal while slowly lowering barriers into normalcy. The drive-in fills a void when the world lacks experiences, bridging the gap between the movie theater, concert, or festival we’ve been dearly missing.

Old is Gold

Thrifting isn’t a new concept. Recently, the art of recycled fashion has become its own niche and even garnered a market where it’s so desirable that it becomes an occupation. With extra downtime, people have been cleaning their closets out for months. This uptick in second owned fashion is saturating the market with new quality pieces.

“While we’ve been at home, who hasn’t cleared out at least one closet and realized there are still nice things tucked back in there that don’t match your current style. So, you take them to your favorite donation center to be recycled or upcycled. It’s not surprising the market for recycled goods has evolved into a 24 Billion dollar industry in recent years.” – Mindi Trank, VP of Strategy

Honing New Habits

The pandemic trailblazed new hobbies and habits, changing consumer’s priorities in their everyday lives. Our Senior Designer, Meghan Coleman, expects a continuation of small business support. Whether it be retail, restaurant, c-store, etc., small businesses will still benefit from increased consumer empathy in 2021.

A new enriched focus on health also took another step, from the restaurant to the kitchen. Expect continued efforts in maintaining health at home and polishing new found cooking skills.

“I am much healthier now, simply because I’m home and have the right foods available. Now if I want something while I am out, its more of a treat.” – Meghan Coleman, Senior Designer

Come On, Get Happy

The gravitation toward all things positive will heighten in 2021. Impacting personal wellness, home, and fashion trends, we’ll see it take shape in many forms. Pantone’s Color(s) of the Year shows the sunny optimism to come paired with a constant grounded tone—bringing them together provides a hopeful balance.

Unlike COVID, sharing happiness is the kind of contagion we can get behind. Evidence of this can be found with a simple tap on TikTok, where top creators connect with people worldwide. TikTok even says their top US creators are “inspiring hundreds of millions of people to cook, dance, laugh, and wash their face.” Whether you’re looking to get away from your daily stresses, learn something new, or find a moment of peace, TikTok is giving its community the escapism they desire. We’ll see more and more brands getting into the action, adding to positivity to engage with top creators in new and surprising ways.

With empathy, optimism, and an open mind, 2021 will be a groundbreaking year for retail. While the world around us changed a great deal, we’ve seen that brands and consumers are resilient and up to the challenge. When we look back on 2020, we’ll see a period of change, setting 2021 up for innovation and advancement we haven’t seen in years.

Wonder what else is next for retail?
Check out why we believe Retail is a Sleeping Giant in 2021.


Photos: Rent The Runway | Rockets Of Awesome

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