Obtaining information from 87% of all retailers in the United States and much more across the world, Marshal Cohen has the statistics to back up his theories.

Marshal Cohen is the Chief Industry Analyst for the NPD Group and is a nationally known expert on consumer behavior and the retail industry.  The University of Arizona’s Retailing and Consumer Sciences students had the privilege of listening to him speak about what retail will be like in 2022.

“We’ve already changed, now they (retailers) need to change along with us,” said Cohen as he discussed how retail is not dying, it is evolving. The three major topics Cohen brought attention to were the new categories that have seen the most growth in 2017 and why, how focusing on one small category of growth is not enough to compete with the categories that have more volume, and lastly, private labels are becoming more popular than large brand name product.

Industry Growth

When you look at retail trends today, prestige beauty, for the third year running, is the best and healthiest business because they’ve figured out how to resonate with the consumer. Beauty may not be the largest sector in retail but in 2017 it has seen the largest amount of growth. When you look at every segment, there are specific reasons why apparel, footwear, and the accessories businesses are not growing at the rate they once were. The answer is Consumer-Based Trends.

Retailers must listen to what their customers want. Athleisure is a trend that evolved from customers. Yoga pants took off and now that’s all people want to wear. The market is flooded with different styles of leggings, hoodies, and sneakers. More people buy athletic wear to lounge around compared to actually working out in it. Slippers are another example Cohen brought up. People wanted to wear their slippers more often. When shoe companies realized this they started to make slippers with rubber soles so they would last longer.

One of the struggling markets Cohen pointed out is the accessory business. Fancier and luxury handbags are struggling because they failed to change along with the consumer based trend. If everyone is wearing athleisure, a fancy handbag is not going to go with most outfits. However, the luxury brands that started making fancier backpacks have done better because it fits the needs of consumers and flows with the new trend. The retailer has to change their products with the evolution of trends.

The retail industry is evolving because consumers are changing. When Zappos started selling shoes online, customers thought it was crazy to buy shoes without trying them on. Zappos introduced free shipping which gave customer’s what they wanted and people started buying shoes online. This idea of free shipping or free two-day shipping is changing the frequency at which people purchase because they can make smaller purchases.

How to Grow an Area of Business

Two major changes in consumers are the fact that people want to spend more time at home which is what Cohen calls “nesting,” and consumers want to spend more money on experiences and travel.

Cohen told a story about a retailer who recognized the trend of traveling, however, they kept thinking that they could not put all the traveling products together because they have specific departments and isles where things go. Cohen convinced them to put their travel products in one area of the store and the company watched the sales in that category triple! You must give customers what they want, and they will spend.

The only thing about focusing on these smaller growing categories is the concept Cohen calls, “leading to lagging.” As important as it is to focus on the growing category, sometimes the smaller categories to not make up for the loss that is happening in the higher volume ones.

The Prestige Beauty category is practicing the same concept but in a different way. As the make-up category is about to hit its highest peak, they start to look and create another leading category, such as skin care to rotate into the leading category.

Less Brands, More Private Labels

One way companies are taking advantage of this method is through the creation of private labels. Amazon bought Whole Foods to gain access to their private label, they have also created their own Fashion line and are expanding into more categories. Customers are realizing they can buy the same product at a lower price. For example, Amazon has gone after the same manufacturer as Lulu Lemon, however, their products are being sold at a much lower price. Customers hear Lulu Lemon and they start to place a higher value on the private label brand. From a retailer’s perspective, this is great because private labels mean higher margins.

After listening to Marshall Cohen, our retail students realized how useful data can be. Some of the methods retailers have been practicing for years are no longer effective because society does not work the same way it did ten years ago. Retail is not dead, it is just starting to evolve and it is going to be bigger than ever before.

Marshall Cohen, NPD Group – Full Video




Retail Technology

The event, a first of its kind for Walmart, drew an exclusive group of high-tech brands, technologists and venture capitalists to debut the latest in VR.

Back in July, the startup incubator unit led by Store No. 8, put out an open call for companies in the VR space to pitch their best ideas for virtual reality that could transform the world of commerce.

Fyusion’s tech uses 3D image processing to curate Modcloth products in VR. Credit: Corinne Ruff

After sifting through 200 applications, Walmart’s head of e-commerce, Marc Lore, selected five companies to incubate for a period of eight to 12 weeks.

Talk about bringing you the full VR experience! Walmart’s No. 8 store held an exclusive event for the five companies to showcase projects.

The winning companies received funding to develop a concept for an immersive retail experience and they were guided by executives from Store No. 8 and brands like Modcloth, Bonobos and Rebecca Minkoff.

Walmart’s Future VR Adventure


San Francisco has brought about many changes throughout history, from political/social movements to the emergence of Uber and now that fastest grocery delivery service. And it’s not Amazon!

Farmstead is an e-grocery startup that launched earlier this month in San Francisco. They are offering a free “Express Pickup” service that allows customers to pick up their online orders just thirty minutes after placing them.

With its new 30-minute pickup option, Farmstead, which refers to itself as a technology company rather than a grocer, has established the fastest order fulfillment time in the U.S. industry.

Farmstead is betting on speed to help it stand out from the competition.

E-Grocery Startup: Farmstead


PetSmart is introducing a new store format to capitalize on their fastest growing market, pet grooming.

The Groomery, focused exclusively on pet grooming services, with the first locations opening in Manhattan and Oak Park. The new format features a salon-style modern design in a boutique-sized space of about 1,800 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft., which is much smaller than a traditional PetSmart. It offers such classic pet grooming services as baths, brushes, haircuts, nail trims and grinds, teeth brushings, paw maintenance, flea & tick treatments and de-shedding.

They also capitalized on play-on-words, with high-end “Spaw” treatments for your pets. It’s an experience your pet will never forget.

PetSmart’s New Store Format

Socail Media


Amazon.com Inc launched a cash payment service in Mexico on Tuesday, aiming to expand its customer base in a country where shoppers are wary of credit card fraud and often earn their living in paper currency.

The strategy could also help it to win market share from rival Wal-Mart de Mexico known as Walmex, along with other retailers pushing Mexican consumers to shop more online instead of brick-and-mortar stores that still dominate the country’s retail sector.

Amazon is the third-largest online retailer in Mexico, according to market research firm Euromonitor International. It has grown swiftly since debuting its Mexico-based website for physical goods two years ago.

Amazon’s Cash Payment Services


Apple, which recently said it was including wireless charging in its latest iPhone X and iPhone 8 smartphones, has acquired New Zealand firm PowerbyProxi that designs wireless power products for consumers and industry.

An Apple spokesman confirmed the acquisition, which was earlier reported in New Zealand media. Both companies declined to provide details of the purchase. Wireless charging allows users to recharge devices by placing them on a pad or other surface rather than inserting them in a cradle or attaching a cable.

Apple has been slow to adopt the technology, lagging behind its biggest rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and other mobile phone companies that have offered wireless charging in some of their devices for several years.

Apple’s interest in PowerbyProxi may be driven by the latter’s other products, some of which can support transferring up to 150 watts through any non-metallic material, for wirelessly charging industrial machinery and medical equipment, said Jake Saunders, Asia Pacific vice president of ABI Research.

This could allow Apple to offer much larger pads that could quickly charge multiple consumer devices, including laptops and even electric scooters, he added.

Apple acquires New Zealand wireless charging company

What Next Amazon?

Amazon announced the November 8 launch of Amazon Key, a service for Amazon Prime subscribers that facilitates unattended in-home deliveries.

“Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors,” said Peter Larsen, Vice President of Delivery Technology, Amazon. “Now, Prime members can select in-home delivery and conveniently see their packages being delivered right from their mobile phones.”

Amazon Key launches alongside the Amazon Cloud Cam, which the company revealed in another press release.

Amazon Key: In Door Deliveryretail 

Retail Competition

Nike could be about to hit Lululemon where it hurts.

The Oregon-based sporting goods company is preparing to open “pant studios” in 5,000 of its stores, according to supplemental documents handed out at Nike’s investor day.

“We are #1 globally in the bottoms market, but we aren’t satisfied, so we talked with women around the world and heard a common theme…make a product by activity,” Nike wrote. “Our Pant Studio features a range of new silhouettes because it’s not only about tights anymore.”

The studios will feature a curated assortment of women’s wear, like yoga pants — items Trevor Edwards, president of the Nike brand, highlighted during his latest presentation to investors and analysts. The spaces are slated to open on Nov. 1, right ahead of the holidays, and can also be shopped through Nike.com.

Nike Set To Open ‘Pant Studios’ For Women, Sending Lululemon Shares Lower 


Omni Channel Retailing

Will Amazon decide to sell prescription drugs online? will be deciding before Thanksgiving whether to move into the online selling and delivery of prescription drugs, and the news that the e-commerce giant could be entering the market sent shares of drug retailers Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid tumbling on Friday.

“We are convinced that AMZN will almost certainly enter the drug distribution value chain within 2 years, evolving into a more disruptive offering over time,” brokerage firm Leerink analyst Ana Gupte wrote in a note to clients.

Will Amazon Sell Prescription Drugs Online?

Face Recognition

You’re at an electronics store. You check out a few TVs and head home after being scanned by store cameras. This data is then cross-referenced with other databases that already contain your facial data. Your face is now the epicenter of a retargeting campaign. You don’t need to sign up or consent, you just need to have a face and be as indifferent as we all are on terms of use.

This isn’t some far-off scenario. It could play out within months. Apple is introducing facial ID capabilities with its iPhone X, due to ship next month.While Apple has asserted that your face data will stay on your phone, not in the cloud, terms of service can change. And Apple isn’t the only player in our selfie-obsessed society looking to leverage our facial data. Brands have been playing with face-changing games for ages — games that capture your facial data and use it to generate some kind of fun image or illusion. Any time your facial data is stored, there’s a possibility for resale and reapplication powered by machine learning through AI. So, what are some of the ramifications of giving up your face data?

AI-powered facial recognition will soon track us while we shop

Subscription Models

Under Armour is jumping on the fashion subscription box bandwagon with its latest offering, ArmourBox.

It’s the Baltimore brand’s first-ever subscription service, along with the lines of others such as Stitch Fix, Le Tote, Fabletics and Rent the Runway.

Under Armour’s box works like this. An “official outfitter” will pick four to six pieces of Under Armour gear that fits a customer’s profile, based on needs, style and goals, then send it out, either monthly or every 60 to 90 days.

Unlike some services, though, there’s no monthly fee, and no shipping or return fees, Under Armour says. Customers can take a week to try it all on, then pay for what they want to keep and ship the rest back. A 20 percent discount will apply if a subscriber buys everything in the box.

Under Armour Subscription Box

Retail Technology

Walmart has spent billions buying up websites like Jet.com and ModCloth, and is investing in new technology as it goes head-to-head with Amazon.com.

Now, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is setting its sights on virtual reality.

Imagine this, says Katie Finnegan, who heads Walmart’s tech incubator: You need a tent for your next camping trip. If all goes to plan, you could one day virtually swoop into your campsite and see any given tent in action. “You could unzip it, lay down, look left and right and say, ‘Oh, this is supposed to be a two-person tent? It’s kind of tight,’ ” she said.

And then you could move on to the next tent — without leaving your couch.

Walmart’s Virtual Reality Investment

Trading Business

The Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs is mulling whether to launch a new trading business that is focused on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. If the firm moves ahead with these plans, it will be the first high-profile Wall Street company to deal directly in the bitcoin trading market.

While big Wall Street firms have embraced blockchain, the technology that enables cryptocurrency, they have yet to make a big push into cryptocurrency trading. If Goldman does decide to enter the market, it would be a completely different response to growing demand for bitcoin than what came from rival JPMorgan.

Goldman Sachs & Bitcoin Trading


For the last several years, economists have been trying to crack the mystery of low U.S. inflation.  Despite being ten years out of the financial crisis, U.S. inflation stubbornly refuses to resume normal growth and remains below the Fed’s 2 percent target.

The “Amazon effect” is thought to be a culprit — it prevents brick-and-mortar retailers from raising prices, and instead forces them to “cut prices in a desperate bid to stay alive” to compete with online retailers

Is the “Amazon Effect” depressing inflation?

Online Grocery Shopping

Walmart is seeking an edge against Amazon with a push from their online grocery service. Order your groceries online and have them delivered straight to your car. Customers never have to step inside the store.

Walmart, which is one of the largest food retailers in the United States, sees grocery pickup as a way to marry its e-commerce business with its gigantic network of stores — a goal that has eluded many other retailers. The company started ramping up the service two years ago, and it is now available in about 1,000 of Walmart’s 4,699 stores across the country.

Walmart’s Grocery Delivery Service 

Beauty Industry

If you want to understand Macy’s ongoing sales slump, look past the market share lost to Amazon, the explosion of off-price chains like T.J. Maxx, and slow mall traffic to see one of the most devastating culprits: Macy’s shrinking status as a leading purveyor of beauty products.

Beauty is one of the only categories in retail showing consistently strong growth. But Macy’s has been losing ground at the cosmetics counter to leaner, hipper competitors, including strip-mall stalwart Ulta Beauty and Sephora.

Now, as it looks to end a streak of 10 quarters of comparable sales declines, Macy’s is more forcefully taking advantage of a weapon it acquired two years ago: the fast-growing, upscale Bluemercury chain of neighborhood beauty stores and spas. In addition to 155 stand-alone Bluemercury stores, there are now 20 full-size Macy’s (out of 670) that incorporate one of the brand’s shops, with more to come.

Macy’s Beauty Segment

Global Retail

Cutting costs, and taking advantage of their third-largest market in China, Nike has reported higher-than-expected second quarterly sales. Nike has always had athletic endorsers to help their direct-to-consumer presence. In the U.S., Nike has been running a pilot test program on Facebook and Amazon. In China, they have spruced up store layouts and have increased e-commerce effort through the partnership with Alibaba.

The company’s sales in China rose 9 percent in the first quarter ended Aug. 31.

Nike’s Quarterly Profits


While online and mobile commerce has transformed the shopping experience, 91% of all retail sales are still generated in brick-and-mortar stores. As a result, merchants are investing in improving the customer journey via the digitization of the in-store experience, getting “phygital,” so to speak.

Retailers are on a mission to streamline the shopping journey for consumers and mitigate shopping pain points that have long bedeviled store associates, like tracking down inventory. Stores are banking on the shift to these “phygital” upgrades to provide an unprecedented, real-time picture of the actual inventory in the store — whether it’s on the shelf or in the back room while upgrading the customer experience.

Zebra Technologies Retail Vision Study

Connecting With Consumers

Today there are all sorts of ways to connect and reach consumers, but how do you know if you’re reaching them on the right platform?

In an age where consumers are drawn toward social media, it only makes sense that social media is the best way to connect with them. Today, 60 million businesses are on Messanger, and there are 2 billion messages sent between users and businesses every single month. 

This shows just how well both users and businesses are taking to the new trend. And, with more people sending private messages rather than uploading traditional, star-rated reviews on Facebook, the app is making a positive impact on real-time sales.

Facebook Messanger


Over a year ago, Google announced a “connected” jean jacket that will allow bike commuters to use their phones. For instance, a bike commuter could instead touch their jacket’s cuff and use gestures to control various functions that they would otherwise have needed to pull out their phone for – like handling calls and messages, adjusting the volume, or navigating with Google Maps.

Google partnered with Levi’s to create this jacket that is now available to purchase for $350. The new smart jacket takes advantage of technology from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), which involves weaving multi-touch sensors into clothing.

Google’s “Connected” Jacket

Department Stores

Nordstrom family members are closing in on an agreement with a private equity firm to assist in a buyout of the luxury retail giant. It was reported in June that the Nordstrom family, which collectively owns 31 percent of the Seattle-based luxury retailer’s shares, had formed a group to explore a potential “going-private transaction” that would involve the acquisition of 100 percent of Nordstrom’s outstanding shares.

The company has struggled with poor traffic trends, due in large part to eCommerce competitors like Amazon. In 1999, the department store had total sales of $230 billion. Last year, that was down to $155.5 billion.

Nordstrom To Go Private

In-Store Experience

Target is in a massive store remodel and they’re focusing on the in-store experience. After testing in small urban stores, Target plans to play background music in all of their newly remodeled locations to help keep shoppers in the aisle a little longer.

Marketing researchers have long explored the effects of background music in retail settings. In the 1980s, a Loyola University marketing professor found that supermarket shoppers spent more time and money in stores when the background music was at a slow tempo.

Target Is Playing Music



Toys “R” Us filed Chapter 11 documents late Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia.

The company said its approximately 1,600 Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores around the world – the “vast majority of which are profitable” – and its web portals continue to operate as usual.

The chain also said it had secured US$3-billion in financing to stay open while it restructures its outstanding debt and establishes a sustainable capital structure to invest in long-term growth.

What will restructuring look like? “The restructuring is intended to facilitate the continued success of our iconic brands; building a stronger company for our customers, business partners and team members,” Melanie Teed-Murch, president of Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us Canada said in a statement.

Toys “R” Us