U.S. consumers are sending out mixed signals on their spending habits and financial self-assessments, according to management consulting firm Kearney, with over 50% saying they’re living check to check, even as retail sales rise, inflation is down and mall traffic is up. The firm also found consumers views are often at odds with the kinds of fixed categorizations endemic to the retail industry.
Target reported weaker Q2 sales, acknowledging it was partly due to backlash over its annual pride month collection in May, first from shoppers who reacted negatively to items like children’s clothing in front-of-store displays, then from LGBTQ groups angered by the company’s response. However, Target’s earnings beat expectations, efficiency efforts including automation and lean inventory.
Brand loyalty plays a crucial role in retail success. But the consumer behavior dynamics are constantly evolving, and recent trends indicate a significant shift in how they approach purchasing decisions. With rising price consciousness, there are valid concerns about the potential erosion of brand loyalty as consumers prioritize cost savings over allegiance, for both everyday brands and luxury sellers.
Economic signals are a bit of a mixed bag heading into the important back-to-school and back-to-college shopping season, an economist with the National Retail Federation said, with inflation easing but spending on services and essential items still impacting spending on goods. In spite of this unsettled macro picture, the NRF projects record spending on K-12 and college.
Buy now pay later (BNPL) usage continues to grow, as cash- and credit-strapped consumers dinged by inflation use it for a wider variety of purchases. The share of online purchases using BNPL increased by 14% and revenue grew by 27% in 2022, according to new data from Adobe Digital Insights.
With a month of 2023 behind us, everyone in retail is wondering how consumer trends will play out this year in the face of ongoing (but lessening) inflation and a tricky macroeconomic picture, to say the least. To get a better understanding of the months ahead, we spoke with Sarah Wyeth, Retail Sector Lead for S&P Global Ratings.
The recent Cyber Weekend was a boon for online mining of consumer data, with major social media players using cookies to track users’ activity across the internet, including of course ecommerce websites, often without permission, then sell the data to advertisers.
James Carville famously told Clinton campaign workers in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and that mantra dominated again 30 years later, as high inflation and recession fears dogged the retail industry this year, leading to massive discounting to drive sales, often at the expense of profits.
As inflation continues to impact retailers, the basket size of every shopper is critical to profitability. To attract the price-wary omnishopper, you must create a seamless, consistent cross-channel experience. Engaging and retaining them is incredibly valuable, but it takes finesse to understand who they are and how they shop.