Retail in 2021: What will endure and what’s going to change?


National Retail Federation | December 2, 2020


Looking ahead to 2021, the U.S. can expect the long tail impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to be felt in the retail industry. National Retail Federation has 10 predictions for 2021, here are some highlights you can't miss:


Direct-to-consumer brands with partnerships to differentiate will see disruptive growth and profitability. It appears the future is multichannel as brands such as Everlane and Birdies link up with Nordstrom, Headspace partners with Spotify, and wellness company Alo and beauty brand Tatcha team up in Animal Crossing.


Livestreaming will take center stage in 2021. Livestreaming is the closest many retailers and brands have been able to come to physically connecting with their customers during the pandemic. The Interactive Advertising Bureau recently reported that livestream-generated sales are expected to double to $120 billion worldwide in 2021.


Social commerce has the potential to grow faster than overall ecommerce. Retailers and brands creating shopping experiences via social media has certainly taken off. Its staying power is undeniable considering the exclusive feelings these opportunities create, the chance to build purchasing intent and the frictionless payment process. The social commerce leaders include Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, Pinterest and Spotify.


On-demand manufacturing is seeing opportunity. For years, concepts like mass customization and personalization have peppered predictions about the future of fashion. Now comes on-demand manufacturing improving sustainability and moves the needle closer to the goal of zero waste.


Shoppers want more payment options, every step of the way. Look for more subscription payment options such as Klarna, Affirm and Afterpay to gain ground; these types of options are borne of digital media, a la steaming services and gaming, but retailers are looking to get in on the action. Other potential game changers in the payment space include rental companies, rent-buy model and trade-ins.


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