How did some of the predictions and trends for 2015 fare over the course of the year? This is our take on some of the few that we were watching closely.
Forbes predicted Amazon would face its match/matches. Amazon remained a strong leader but in 2015 it saw competitors like Walmart and Target US up their digital game. Big surprises were online retailers that pushed bricks and mortar and stole the media attention – retailers such as BirchBox, Warby Parker and Frank and Oak. Alibaba is leaving a mark on the digital landscape as well. Although we haven’t ordered anything for business, some of our team has had some experience with personal purchases from Alibaba and feedback has been positive.
Who remembers the old adage “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? Well it turns out a new version is becoming a reality in retail – “the way to a customers wallet is through their stomach”. Retailers are luring shoppers with food. We saw it start to happen in late 2014 in major US cities – in Manhattan alone Uniqulo added a Starbucks to it’s Fifth Avenue store, and Urban Outfitters added a full restaurant to their Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. Here in our home base of Toronto, Nordstrom is expanding its food court to appeal to high-end connoisseur tastes with the likes of Pusateri’s and rumors of their own restaurant Bar Verde.
We can’t cover trends and a year in review without mentioning the store. Despite tighter budgets and the continuous insurgence of digital in the retail landscape, retailers still invested in overhauling their bricks and mortar experience in 2015. Canadian iconic retailers such as Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart both introduced new formats and flagship stores to much acclaim. The trend will continue well into 2016 with stores like the Bauer stand alone Hockey Experience Stores recently opening in Burlington MA and Minneapolis MN, focused on creating a bricks and mortar experience complemented with interactive technology.
And who can avoid luxury these days? 2015 saw a huge influx of luxury retailers – department stores like the previously mentioned Nordstrom is moving in, Saks Fifth Avenue announced the hire of 365 positions, with Hudson’s Bay upping its game and offering in anticipation. Malls across Canada have been expanding and renovating – Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale in Toronto ON, West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton AB, and Place Ste Foy in Quebec to name a few. And Vancouver is taking it to the street with their current luxury brands welcoming new businesses like Swiss-born menswear Strellson. We even saw the appliance business make some room for itself in the luxury sector with GE’s Monogram Design Centre and Cooking Studio – a building dedicated to the love of food.
With the luxury and discount markets growing at the opposite ends of the spectrum, it will be interesting to see what happens in the middle in 2016.