Industry Jun 25, 2020 6 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? Here’s the lowdown on the trends defining the industry and shaping the market.

We highlight how retailers are growing or slowing, digital and bricks & mortar strategies, product or category line expansions and industry happenings.

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Tech round up

For order fulfillment

  • Gap Inc. recently expanded the number of Kindred SORT robots used to manage its supply chain, now totaling 106. With this additional investment, Gap Inc. hopes its distribution centers will be able to quickly answer the demand for the spike in online orders during the pandemic.

For optimizing smartphones

  • SHOPIC, the Israeli-based mobile checkout company, is currently being leveraged in grocery stores to minimize checkout lines. The app also allows associates to act as cashiers from any point in the store if assistance is needed.
  • By combining AI and the Internet of Things, digital signage can interact with smartphones to receive various messages based on shopping history and personal interest. Based on the knowledge of these digital signs, they also have the power to greet returning or new customers.
  • Macy’s has been using beacons since 2014, a device that transmits information via Bluetooth to your smartphone, similar to the digital signs explained above.
  • Apple’s upcoming Nearby Interaction and Apple U1 chip will help transform the Apple retail store experience. The new technology will help customers navigate stores, pinpoint which table has the product you’re looking for and provide information as you get closer.

For store employees

  • In London, Capital and Regional partnered with Sensormatic Solutions to launch ShopperTrak, a device to help monitor and control individual community shopping center’s occupancy levels. General managers can track peak and non-peak trading times to maintain clear and consistent communication with customers regarding the safest times to shop.
  • Retailers like L’Occitane and Keds already apply MyStore-E, an automated data-driven task management tool, guiding retail managers to excellence.

For in-store

  • Saks applied ultraviolet lighting sterilizing handrails on escalators.
  • Self-checkout technology like Trigo’s will become increasingly relevant to minimize crowding.
  • Woolworths, anAustralian supermarket, invested in a logistics infrastructure to build tailored pallets for specific aisles in individual stores – improving on-shelf product availability with faster restocking, reducing congestion and enabling a safe work environment with less manual handling.
  • Reality mirrors and try-on tools are already in use in-store at Sephora and online at the likes of MAC Cosmetics, ASOS and Gap.
  • Fit:Match enables personalized and precise fit-predictions by capturing biometric images.

Industry happenings

Trade news

  • In an interview with BBC Radio 4, the Founder of Monsoon Accessorize said that of the 100 stores set to reopen, Monsoon would only be six to 10 of them. The focus will be on Accessorize due to its lower price point and versatile appeal.
  • AllSaints has been approved from a US bankruptcy court to plan the restructuring of its UK retail operations.
  • JD Sports will buy back its GO Outdoors label from administrators.
  • Australian department store Myer cuts another 90 head office jobs.
  • Boohoo has acquired the online businesses of Oasis and Warehouse after the brands shuttered its stores and went into administration back in April.
  • Joules is expected to report a 12% drop in revenue this year with store and wholesale sales impacted by the pandemic.
  • After 45 years, Long Tall Sally will cease trading at the end of August.

People moves

  • Creative Director of Hunter, Alasdhair Willis, will exit his role on July 31st.
  • Reformation Founder, Yael Aflalo, has stepped down.
  • John Lewis appoints Co-op Group deputy chief executive, Pippa Wicks, as the new executive director to join the business in August.
  • Patagonia CEO, Rose Marcario, has stepped down.
  • Emma Watson has joined Kering’s board as the chair of its sustainability committee.
  • Munroe Bergdorf has rejoined L’Oreal, now sitting on its Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board.
  • At the start of June, Ban.do Founder Jen Gotch resigned.
  • In fashion media, Samira Nasr became the first woman of color to run Harper’s Bazaar’s while Christene Barberich resigned as editor of Refinery29. Leandra Medine also ‘stepped back’ from Man Repeller and Sophia Amoruso exited Girlboss.

Region & range expansion

Ventures into new markets and product categories

  • Under new ownership, Forever21 launched a new website re-entering the UK market after falling into administration last year.
  • To support expansion into the international market, Hush has launched a new mobile-first e-commerce site featuring increased browser speed, digital payment services and consumer-focused content.
  • Instead of opening a physical shop, T.A in New York City launched online. The fashion and lifestyle concept store caters to the local women-identifying community with a curated range of 10 new items each week in limited runs.
  • German luggage brand Rimowa is diversifying its offering with its first unisex eyewear collection launching on July 9th.

Bricks & mortar update

Store traffic

  • While stores in England were met with queues reopening on the June 15th, physical retail hasn’t yet rebounded with UK footfall reportedly falling 57.2% YoY according to ShopperTrak.
  • Additionally, new research from Meepl states one in five UK shoppers said they’ll never shop in-store again, while over two-thirds of UK consumers will only return if strict hygiene and social distancing measures are maintained.
  • Since reopening stores in May, the Galeries Lafayette Group reported traffic is down 20%, which is said to impact the group’s accounts by €1 billion ($1.1 billion) or more.

Openings & closures

  • Ganni is to open its second UK location. While dates are currently TBC, it’s reported to be located in London’s Convent Garden.
  • Planned for July 6th, Louis Vuitton will open its first menswear flagship in Tokyo. Customers need to make advance reservations to enter the store.
  • UK retailer TM Lewin is reportedly considering closing stores if landlords fail to reduce rent prices.
  • At the end of May, Jigsaw permanently closed its Australian stores and websites to focus on UK trading.
  • Celine is set to open on London’s New Bond Street next year.
  • L Brands has stated over the next few months it will permanently close a quarter of its Victoria’s Secret US and Canada stores, as well as 50 Bath & Body Works mall locations.


Secondhand for social good

Depop has become a fundraising tool for social causes. Model Zaira Michelle created a shop on the app, with 100% of the proceeds donated to the BLM movement. Similarly, presenter Miss Jason enlisted designers such as Liam Hodges to donate items to sell with the profits given to the UK QTIBIPOC Hardship Fund.

Resale expansion

Walmart has teamed up with the secondhand platform ThredUp, allowing customers to shop pre-owned items on Walmart’s website. Over 750,000 products are to be listed, across women’s and childrenswear. In luxury, 3.1 Phillip Lim partnered with TheRealReal for a dedicated shop for the designer’s pieces, including archival pieces and excess inventory.

New in the rental market

British start-up The Devout launched this month in the rental market. The company will offer a rental subscription for menswear and womenswear. Priced at £79, consumers will be sent five items every month, from loungewear to occasionwear, which can then be swapped for another five products. While the growth of rental has slumped during lockdown, companies in China have reported a lift in sales after the easing of lockdown restrictions.

In other news:

  • ThreadUp’s annual Resale Report forecasted the second-hand market to reach $64bn over the next five years and overtake the fast fashion market by 2029.
  • Farfetch released a fashion footprint calculator, allowing consumers to see the impact of certain materials.
  • Burberry and H&M are the latest retailers to sign the Circular Economy Pact.
  • Gucci has relaunched its Equilibrium initiative.
  • American Eagle Outfitters is expanding into conscious fashion with the opening of Unsubscribed, an apparel and accessories concept store in New York.
  • The WWF and Google have teamed up to utilize data to improve traceability and transparency in supply chains.
  • In the US, Depop has reported substantial growth with a 300% increase in items sold year on year and a 163% rise in new app sign-ups.

Contributions by Ashley Graham, Heather Ibberson and Rebecca Milne.