What will be the big trends in retail in 2024?

Tom Mercer
26 February, 24

Recent times have seen some rapid change across retail – and the next couple of years are unlikely to provide much respite. We probably won’t see another pandemic and the huge damage that lockdown caused to high streets, but a study by the Local Data Company has predicted that there will be between 8,000 and 15,000 fewer retail outlets by the end of 2025. That’s on top of the 37,000 that disappeared between 2018 and 2022.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers must evolve in everything from the way they maintain stock and quality levels to their attitudes to customer satisfaction, if they are to thrive. Failure to do so may see them follow previous town-centre giants like Wilko and The Body Shop into administration or extinction. Embracing the digital age – rather just seeing it as a threat, thanks to online outlets – is key.

These are some of the innovations and trends to get on board with, this year.

Virtual and augmented reality

Enhancing shopping experiences with VR and AR can be an excellent way to bridge the gap between traditional and online shopping. Customers are keen, too – a recent survey of 4,600 US consumers found that one third were very or extremely interested in using VR to shop.

Some online outlets are already using AR to allow people to “try on” shoes, clothes and even makeup. But, in the US, Macy’s has been using  in-store VR headsets to allow people to see what furniture will look like in a room. The North Face allows customers to experience VR outdoor adventures in its shops.

Providing such immersive shopping is likely to become an ever-more valuable way for shops to encourage people through their doors.

Automated inventories

When customers have almost every product they need at their fingertips, online, shops need to ensure their shelves are constantly well-stocked, in order to compete. Manual inspections to discover how well stocked shelves will continue to play their part, but automatic and even AI systems will grow in use. From data software that informs decisions on what goods to order in, to shelves that flash to guide workers to items that are out of date [NB. SHOPS IN EUROPE AND LONDON ARE USING THIS], technology will make sure produce is fresh, waste is reduced and shoppers feel well served

Zara uses automation to respond quickly to changing fashion trends and help manage its supply chain. Nike also uses an automatic inventory system to react to market demands. Many other stores will follow their lead, in the coming months.

Customer data automation

In a competitive, difficult marketplace, good, up-to-date insights into what your customers want and are buying are crucial. There is likely to be greater use of automated customer data, this year and beyond, to help retailers improve shopper experiences and boost brand loyalty and income, in the most efficient, inexpensive way possible.

Greater emphasis on staff sentiment

Finding out what your employees think of  your retail operation can be almost as important as finding out what your customers think. A happy workforce will be more productive and offer better levels of service to shoppers, making them more loyal customers and increasing revenue.

Retail leaders should conduct more regular polls, feedback sessions and workshops to find out how staff at all levels are feeling about their roles, the company and any difficulties – from poor stock levels to unworkable holiday rotas. Sales teams will gel better, internal processes will run smoother and your store will operate in a more efficient manner at a time when any small improvements that can help turn a profit are crucial.

AI price watching

Customers have become very shrewd, when it comes to finding the cheapest prices for goods, whether they be electronic gadgets, fruit or alcohol. Even when out and about in a town centre, they can use their smartphones to see which shop is doing the best deals. Sending spies to other stores is too time consuming and expensive, so retailers will be looking to AI to constantly check their rivals’ pricing and make sure they are always competitive.

More ways to pay

Apart from the occasional barber or corner shop, accepting only cash is generally seen as very behind the times, these days. But retailers whose range of payment options don’t extend beyond standard credit and debit cards or even smart phones, will find themselves losing customers soon, too. Over the last 12 months or so, more and more stores have been accepting the likes of PayPal Pay in 3, Clearpay and Klarna, which offer flexible payment options. These appeal particularly to consumers looking to make bigger purchases in challenging economic times when paying  in instalments becomes very attractive.

For more information about GAIN LINE and its digital solutions for retailers visit

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