4 Consumer Trends Driving the Retail Industry

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Square has released its annual Future of Commerce report analyzing consumer retail trends.
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Square's Future of Commerce report analyzed consumer trends to project how businesses and customers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia will shape the global commerce landscape in 2024. The report suggests growth across many facets of retail due to expanding technologies and a desire for new experiences.

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1. Consumers Seek Out New Experiences

Facing inflation and higher costs, 43% of customers feel less optimistic about their financial situations than 12 months prior. In the face of financial uncertainty, customers are mindful of where they spend their money, seeking out businesses that offer value and efficiency. Square reports that 80% of customers are interested in trying a new offering at a business known for something else and 86% would participate in specific perks, activities or events offered by a business.

2. Automation is Improving Outcomes

Sentiment around automation is overwhelmingly positive: 100% of retail and restaurant owners reported that automation and technology have improved their businesses. Square reports that 45% of retailers have seen greater employee retention and increased profits as a result of their automation investments.

Per the report, 76% of restaurant customers and 67% of retail customers prefer that businesses use automation over live staff in at least one area — particularly for repetitive admin tasks like making reservations or checking product inventory.

3. Multihyphenate Strategies Provide Growth & Longevity

Square suggests that to stand out in a rapidly changing commerce landscape, multihyphenate tactics, such as diversifying revenue streams or adding non-core offerings, are now a significant element of business strategy. Per the report, 99% of retailers plan to invest in additional revenue streams, such as in-store events or advertising offerings, with the primary goal of keeping up with industry trends.

4. Retailers are Betting on Personalization and Differentiation for Success

To compete in today’s complex marketplace, retail owners are looking ahead to see where they can advance. In the coming year, Square reports that retail owners will be intensifying their focus on improving customer relationships and standing out with unique offerings to maintain a competitive edge. More than half (56%) will be taking a closer look at their marketing tactics for Gen Z as the younger generations’ purchasing power continues to grow—an increase from 43% marketing to Gen Z in 2022, per the report.

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