Featured Nov 19, 2019 7 min read

The current retail industry landscape

How has the retail landscape evolved over the past six weeks?

retail landscape

How has the retail landscape evolved over the past six weeks? Our Retail Analyst team bring you the lowdown on recent trends defining the industry and shaping the market.

We highlight how retailers are scaling up or back, digital and bricks & mortar strategies, product or category line expansions, along with new retail development destinations.

Want to see the analysis reports Zara, Puma and Marni take into their weekly meetings? Learn more here.

What’s shaping retail?

Digital fashion

The conversation around digital fashion is picking up steam. London’s Protein Studios will host ‘the world’s first circular economy concept store’ from 19th – 21st Nov. At HOT:SECOND, shoppers will donate unwanted items to Love Not Landfill in exchange to try on digital clothing. Read our interview with the founder of HOT:SECOND, Karinna Nobbs! 

Tommy Hilfiger began exploring digital fashion back in 2017 and recently announced a stronger commitment to shift over designs to be 100% digital by 2022. The brand’s Fall 2020 capsule collection will be its first that is end-to-end digital, with plans to work with virtual influencers.

Louis Vuitton collaborated with Riot Games, creators of League of Legends, to create a series of physical products alongside ‘skins’ gamers can download for their avatars.

The Darkside of Buy Now Pay Later

Concerns are bubbling up over buy now pay later schemes. Reports surfaced linking these platforms to spending anxiety and low credit scores among millennial consumers. These platforms are also raising red flags in the industry for increasing the number of fast fashion items that will potentially go unworn in consumers’ wardrobes. Furthermore, contributing to the 95% increase of ecommerce returns in the US over the past five years.

In response, startups such as Returnly have emerged to offer customers instant store credit when they return an item. They end up absorbing the risk for the merchant, decreasing return-generated store losses and increasing customer loyalty. With partnerships across brands like Decathlon and Outdoor Voices, Returnly expanded their policy earlier this month to cater to international returns. 

retail landscape

The Rise and Rise of Resale 

The recommerce market has been thriving for some time, now cementing itself as a true competitor that traditional retailers need to be aware of. Despite the skepticism of The RealReal’s authentication process, which saw counterfeit goods slip through, the second-hand retailer saw a 55% spike in sales for Q3. These formerly digitally native businesses are starting to make their mark offline as consumers are more accepting of second-hand shopping.

The RealReal is opening its fourth physical store in the first half of 2020, while the Vestiaire Collective opened its first physical shop in Selfridges’ Oxford Street store on October 30th. 

Instagram Likes

Instagram announced that certain users in the US will have the number of likes hidden from posts following the updates in Ireland, Italy and Australia,.

Since brands mainly look at comments to measure engagement from a post over likes, the update is not expected to negatively affect retailers’ digital strategies.

For further reading on how Instagram has shaped retailers’ assortments, check out our blog post on The Instagram Effect – how influencers drive successful fashion trends.

Expansions, Contractions & Innovations

• Alibaba reportedly hired an executive team in London to expand its UK portfolio. This week the Chinese e-comm giant generated $38.4B of profits during a record-breaking Singles Day sale.

• Facebook Inc. is moving to monetize WhatsApp with the launch of a shopping catalogue feature. Currently available in selected regions, including the US and UK, it will roll out worldwide in the next few weeks. Small businesses using the free WhatsApp Business app can now showcase a mobile storefront and will eventually be able to engage with consumers using chatbots and augmented reality tools.

• OTB parted ways with footwear and accessories brand Paula Cademartori, who is planning to expand into homeware.

• UK retailer Oasis began stocking third-party brands on its site. Brands from the Little Mistress Group including Girls on Film, Little Mistress and Paper Dolls became available at the end of October.

• Primark will enter the Polish market as well as continue its American expansion after experiencing strong sales in its Brooklyn, New York store.

Pop-Ups to Note

• Glossier opened on Congress St. in Austin, TX on Oct 23rd. The beauty giant is also running a London pop-up from Nov 20th – Feb 9th.

• Until Dec 8th, customers can pop into House of Sunny’s first physical store in London to shop the AW’19 collection.

• Moncler’s ‘House of Genius’ project is open in Paris, Tokyo and Milan until the end of January 2020.

• Rebecca Taylor partnered with Mud Australia ceramics on a holiday collection. The brand activation will be open until Dec 26th in the designer’s store in the Meatpacking District.

• Gucci is launching a series of pop-ups called ‘Pin’ across Paris, Seoul and Hong Kong between January and March 2020. Pin will focus on augmented reality and interactive consumer experience.

• ABG Brands and Condé Nast brought the 80s gaming world back to life with the ‘Style Arcade’ pop-up in SoHo running until the end of November. The activation showcases brands such as Aéropostale, Hervé Legér and Judith Leiber.

• Taking over the concept space at Nordstrom until the end of December, Burberry created an immersive installation displaying pieces from the AW’19 collection.

retail landscape

Bricks and Mortar Update

UK Market

• Anthropologie unveiled plans to open five new stores in Europe, primarily the UK, as part of its ‘neighborhood’ strategy. The plan implements localized retail experiences in cities like Kingston and Oxford.

• Following the collapse of Mothercare, it was announced that affected employees will not receive redundancy pay as the retailer prepares to close down 79 stores.

• adidas unveiled a flagship location on Oxford Street branded as ‘adidas LDN’. Proclaimed as the most technologically advanced store to date, features include interactive mirrors and in-store geolocation tracking.

• In more Oxford Street news, Vans is opening its largest European store on November 21st coinciding with Vans Checkerboard Day. The space is 4,714 square feet housing a Customs Lab and in-store artists to help with the design process.

• Menswear brand Luke 1977 is continuing its plan to open 20 UK locations by 2021 with the grand opening of an off-price retail concept in Cheshire and a full-price store in Sheffield this month.

• Harrods is opening its first location outside the UK capital in Spring 2020. The retailer is planning a standalone beauty store in Essex offering premium brands as well as a ‘coffee-to-cocktail’ bar.

• Over in Soho, Wood Wood is planning its first London location and seventh store overall. The Danish label will stock its own collection as well as pieces from NEIGHBORHOOD and Cav Empt.

US Market

• American fashion designer Zac Posen is officially closing the doors on his label, House of Z. Following a long and drawn out sales process, the brand will cease business operations.

• Riley Rose shut down all freestanding locations following parent company Forever 21’s filing for Chapter 11. The beauty venture will now be integrated into existing Forever 21 stores.

• Luxury brand Bottega Veneta opened the doors to its first Miami store in the city’s Design District.

• Unconventional boutique retailer Forty Five Ten will introduce a store-in-store concept with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s label, The Row, at its Dallas flagship location.

• Pronovias, a luxury bridal label, continues its expansion in the US with a flagship store in New York City. The space features elevated design aesthetics along with 17 large fitting rooms and a personalized consultation.

retail landscape
Image via Popinquirer.net


• Kanye West unveiled a new sneaker design made from algae foam as part of the designer’s pledge towards sustainability. The sneaker is set to release in early 2020 and marks the “beginning of the future” for his brand.

• Zalando released their plans for a more sustainable business model. The retailer pledged to go carbon neutral, eliminating single-use plastics and to sell second-hand products through its ‘Zalando Wardrobe’ program.

• The H&M group became the latest retailer to expand into the rental market. H&M will launch its debut rental service in its Stockholm store. A number of pieces will be available to rent, including lines from the brand’s conscious collection.

Reformation held pop-ups across America and London this month. The ‘Trunk Show’ allows consumers to shop one-of-a-kind vintage garments.

• After a trail of cities banned the use and production of fur, California passed a state-wide ban on the fabric and further honing in on the importance of going faux.

retail landscape
Reformation US Email
28 Oct 2019