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Retail experts see ‘tumultuous’ year ahead

Alan Treadgold, retail expert at PA Consulting, discusses 2019 retail trends. 

Click here to read the full WWD article. 

In their annual predictions for the new year, retail industry analysts and consultants see one consistent trend for 2019 that has defined the business for two years: transformation.

From the uncertainty over the future of Sears and lagging holiday sales at traditional department stores (according to data from Mastercard) to the explosive growth of dollar stores and e-commerce, 2018 was a year of notable change. And the next 12 months shaping up to be the same — with some caveats.

An ongoing government shutdown may also create consumer spending friction in the near term. Which is why retailers, fresh off the holiday selling season, need to keep up a competitive pace in the first quarter. And that means continuing to give shoppers what they want, when they want it.

Alan says “tumultuous change will define the retail industry in 2019. In particular, more high-profile failures of well-established retail businesses who haven’t been able to change their businesses anything like as quickly as their (former) customers are changing in terms both of what they want to buy and how they want to buy it. Midmarket department stores continue to look especially vulnerable.”

Another soft spot in the industry surrounds data use and security, Alan added. “Following very high-profile data breaches and at best inappropriate use of customer data, retailers should expect their customers to be far more aware of and concerned about how their data is being collected, stored and ‘harvested’.”

He continues: “Thoughtful retailers will see this as an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by positioning themselves as custodians of their customers’ interests and backing that up with properly secure systems and processes.”

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