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The 8 Big Retail Trends of 2016

Here's the big trends of 2016 that you'll need to get familiar with. From retail activism and nimble pricing to volume and micro bags. Get clued up before venturing into the unknown.
The 8 Big Retail Trends of 2016 | EDITED

Here’s your heads-up on the eight key  retail trends of  2016. Be they consumer movements, product trends or  economic shifts, these are the big eight  driving  demand in the next 12 months. Time to get cosy with them.

And don’t worry, we won’t wheel out ‘omni-channel’  or ‘m-commerce’ once. Here’s to the future.

1.  Respect For True Pricing

Retailers know, more than ever, that price is sensitive – in today’s conditions  it’s something of a fluid notion. Over the course of the next 12 months, we’ll see an increase in electronic pricing as retailers strive towards price parity with competitors across all channels. But we’ll also see a slow yet sure move towards a respect for the right price.

Too many retailers have been stung by downwards spiralling of price point and the worst hit won’t be in a position for an about-turn in 2016. But there does need to be a greater monitoring at product development stage to make sure the right price is secured as the first price, and will be a top line priority for most retailers in 2016. Steadily this will win back the full price shopper.

In 2016 we’ll see a slow but  sure move towards a respect for the right price.

2.  Get Them the Goods

Delivery gets even smarter this year. In an age where  Uber can deliver puppies to your office or you can ‘one-tap’ order a pizza through your Apple watch, apparel retailers need to up their game. Consumers will be prioritising super-convenient same day deliveries across cities, globally. There’s a heck of a lot of logistics that need figuring, so retailers had better get creative. Drones might not be a viable option, but delivery to train stations and gyms could work. Hey, it could be worse – at least a dress won’t spoil if  cold.

Part of getting products to consumers at any cost will see a greater number of retailers revealing real-time inventory to consumers, allowing visibility across all channels.

3. Volume

If there’s one thing to take away from the  Spring 2016 runway shows, it’s that things are about to get big. Ruffles, frills and flounces draped over everything,  oversized  cami dresses and slouchy pants all tripped their way down the catwalks. Get familiar with your tricky sleeve shapes: bishop, leg of mutton, bracelet and angel sleeves all return on cold-shouldered blouses, prairie dresses and dramatic tops.

Done right, this trend will see retailers soar through  the year – once consumers are warmed up to the idea of wider cuts and looser pyjama-style fits, they’ll stick around through Fall. And we’ve not forgotten the gents either; pants are getting wider in menswear too.

The shape of things to come.... big.
The shape of things to come….big.

4. Shoppers Are Hungry

Feed them. No really. This year an increasing number of retailers will create destination retail spots with the aid of food and beverages. Dwindling footfall is just one sign  that people don’t just want to shop – they want destinations. And at a time when food and drink spend is strengthening, why not serve them the stuff they want in the  hope they buy some clothes alongside?

Urban Outfitters are giving it a crack – they’ve bought up a pizza chain.  Everlane  have closely aligned with local produce and incorporated bars at their pop-ups, and who hasn’t flexed their credit card after a glass of something fizzy at Vogue’s Fashion Night Out? Food destinations are social media fodder  too – retailers JUST need to get clued up on their food trends. What’s big for 2016? Foodie experts say celeriac, kebabs and natural fats. Thinking hats on?

5. Sporting Chances

Look, athleisure isn’t going anywhere. We don’t need to go over the basics, we gave you enough of that in 2015. And 2014. And 2013. So what’s new on the table? Well, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics will have a retail impact.

It’s going to be a color explosion – sports apparel should follow suit and swimwear might get a little cheeky. Football will also fall under the spotlight in June this  year, with all it’s recent controversies set to culminate around Euro 2016. Hair salons should also be prepped for this one…

6.  Lights Are On & Everyone’s Home

We’re expecting more retailers to dabble with homewares in 2016. The reasons are two-fold. Firstly, times are tough for a lot of us. Netflix and chill is real. We’re spending time bunkering down in uncertain economic times  –  nesting is a by-products of that. In fact, we don’t even need to leave the house to meet the love of our lives anymore.

Secondly, print power. Online retail has facilitated consumers’ current print adoration. Printed items stand out and give consumers something to fall in love with when fit concerns might have been a blocker. Retailers investing in prints and collaborating with artists to differentiate are wise to embrace category expansion as a way to maximise their efforts.

7. Retail Activism

Let’s be real. In 2016 global politics isn’t going to get any more palatable. The US will select a new president in Fall, Britain will debate leaving the EU and the United Nations will get a new Secretary-General. Instability in Russia doesn’t look to be resolved any time soon and terrorism is taking a toll world wide. We could all do with one big holiday away from this, but in lieu of that happening, let’s give consumers a voice.  The watered-down version? Slogan tees. But we’ll see an increase in designers referencing their position in themes of collections, as well as bolder brands acting as a platform to open up discussion among their followers. The message: We’re together in this.

  8. Micro accessories

If 2015 was about the bucket bag, 2016 will be about the micro bag. Teeny, tiny hand-held bags were seen on the runways of Christopher Kane, Saint Laurent, Moschino and Diane Von Furstenberg.  Kenzo’s pouches were strapped to belts at model’s waists. Ornate box bags were seen at Dolce & Gabbana, Olympia Le Tan, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, Anya Hindmarch… need we go on? So what’s this trend all about?

The mini bag is part of a wider trend in premium and luxury. We’re seeing retailers extend their merchandise offering into lower price points through accessories like key rings, patches, phone accessories and bag trinkets. This is being further driven by a current appreciation for kitsch in luxury. These lower margin items are a great way for brands to get their first interaction with a new generation of customers. That’s not to say you’re going to score a bargain on that Louis Vuitton number.

Best-selling mini bags from December 2015:

And there we have it – we turn you out into the new year ready to tackle its unique challenges. Here’s to a bumper year of retailing with smart decisions at the right time for your shoppers. Watch this space, we’ll be analysing global data throughout.