Retail sales to grow 3% annually through 2021; store openings to outpace closures

Retail industry sales are expected to remain on the upswing for the next several years and so are store openings.

A new report by Zebra Technologies, conducted with IHL Group, projects that retail industry sales in North America and EMEA regions (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) will rise 3% annually through 2021, led by a shift to greater e-commerce/omnichannel sales volume. 

The year 2017 saw more retail store openings than closures and store openings are expected to outpace closures through 2021, according to Zebra’s 2017 Retail Transformation Study. IHL research estimates that the enterprise retail market (more than 50 stores) had 4,080 net stores opening through October 2017. In fact, 42% of retailers had a net increase in stores while only 15% had a net decrease.

Additional findings of the study include:

• IHL projects the North American retail market will grow over the next five years to $5.5 trillion in sales.

• IHL projects technology spending among retailers to rise approximately 3% over the next three years, as retailers continue to evolve their operations to support unified commerce and provide a modern, engaging customer experience.

• Mobility is a driver for most surveyed retailers who plan to invest in mobile barcode or thermal printers, barcode scanners and mobile computers within the next three years.

• Store and fulfillment operations are transforming dramatically to adapt to evolving retail models. Among surveyed North American retailers expecting growth of more than 5%, 60% cited faster sales growth as a key driver for changes in store operations, while 52% cited the shift in sales to online purchases. And 52% identified same-day delivery as a key warehouse operations driver as consumer demand is encouraging retailers to improve the in-store returns process and enhance their fulfillment and delivery strategies.