Retail 2016 Prediction Results

2017 is here. Let's review how I did on the 2016 predictions:

  • Retail sales growth will remain tepid - Spending will continue to be hampered by consumers paying more for healthcare and housing. Pockets of strength will be restaurants & bars, non-store retail (online), auto and home improvement.  

Partially Correct. Restaurants are starting to slow a bit.

  • Discount & Outlet vs. Department Stores - The "perceived deal" and "the find" will continue to earn customer wallets. The only way to provide both of those two is through discount & outlet stores...much to the dismay of department stores.

Correct. No major department store other than Nordstrom posted a positive quarterly comp in 2016.

  • Cheap chic reigns supreme - H&M, Uniqlo, Zara, Forever 21 and now Primark will continue to drive the mindset of the consumer and steal share from legacy retailers. Mindset: Apparel should be cheap and viewed as disposable. 

Correct. No stopping this train. Inditex (Zara) and Primark continue their assault.

  • Ecommerce is truly here - Although brick & mortar still owns the overwhelming majority of spend, 2015 truly made the customer comfortable with shopping online. Online grocery shopping truly became available and mobile sites/apps hadn't reached the tipping point. That all changed in 2015 and will make previous year's growth seem small.

Incorrect. Grocery is taking a long, long time.

  • Marketplaces thrive - Shoppers start their shopping in a search engine or at a site named Amazon. Sometime in 2016, 50%+ of everything purchased on Amazon will be from a 3rd party seller. Brands will realize the need to list in these marketplaces or risk losing the "eye share."

Correct. We hit 50/50 break point on Amazon a quarter ago.

  • Minimal retail footprint downsizing - Although most industry pundits agree that North America has too much retail space, we likely won't see much downsizing in 2016. Stubborn retailers will still open stores in smaller sizes and hope to steal market share from competitors. 2017 will be a different story... 

Partially correct. Macy's announced 100 closings for the headlines and a few other bankruptcies recently announced. 

  • Liberation of brands - Brands will make further progress in "owning the conversation" with the customer as they focus on selling direct and cutting out the middle man. Some will earn organic sales due to being front of mind whilst others will realize paying for awareness is addictive and expensive.

No scoring possible.

  • Etail is a losing game - It has become increasingly more difficult to run a retail business as 100% ecommerce. With the cost of acquiring an order and/or customer increasing monthly, etailers cannot survive paying for every order. The existing etailers realized this in 2015 by focusing on marketplaces/services to pay the bills.

Incorrect. Limited adoption of marketplaces by the etailers. 

  • Shippers with deep pockets survive - Customers are no longer willing to pay for shipping yet want the product now. Large, comprehensive delivery networks are costly. The Instacarts and Delivs of the world can survive in highly dense markets but the end of domination by FedEx and UPS using USPS for final mile delivery is nowhere near. 

Correct. No major changes in 2016 on the shipping front. Plenty of growth and funding for everyone.