From digital boards to e-commerce: The things to watch in retail in 2017

Competition among Canadian retailers continued to heat up this year

TORONTO — Competition among Canadian retailers continued to heat up this year, with some brands beefing up their physical stores and e-commerce offerings, while new entrants like Saks Fifth Avenue and Uniqlo joined the fray.

Whether it was Saks opening up a Pusateri’s food hall in their stores or Hudson’s Bay spending more than $60 million to upgrade its Toronto distribution centre with a new robotics system, retailers worked to carve out their place in the cutthroat retail landscape.

But not all retailers have been able to survive, with some like Danier scaling back locations or others like teen clothing chain Aeropostale and jewelry chain Ben Moss closing their doors in Canada for good.

As 2016 nears an end, here are the top retail trends to look forward to in the new year:

Retailers will continue to expand their e-commerce offerings

In 2016, Canadians averaged more than $44 billion in retail sales every month with e-commerce sales accounting for about two per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

Although online sales make up a small proportion of total purchases, retail industry expert Doug Stephens says it’s growing at a pace of 15 per cent each year compared with three per cent growth in bricks-and-mortar sales.

Stephens, who runs consultancy Retail Prophet, said more than ever, customers expect the process of buying online to be as seamless as purchasing the item in a store. They also want to be able to have the opportunity to go back and forth between the two options easily and quickly.

NPD Group retail analyst Tamara Szames said retailers understand that their online presence is a “gateway” to their physical store, and even though this area is growing, it’s not replacing consumers’ desires to shop in person.

Imagine trying on clothes in a store and being able to ask for another size, get advice about the fit or get recommendations about other pieces that might work — all from a screen on your dressing room door.

Retail strategist Kelly Askew says 2017 is going to be a year where more retailers will try to incorporate more useful, digital aspects into the store experience.

Askew, a managing director at Accenture, anticipates that even grocery stores will move towards embedding more digital aspects into the business.

For example, supermarkets may begin to send offers to your smartphone as you’re walking by an item on a shelf or help you plan your route through the grocery aisles once you upload your shopping list.

“(We’re going to be) moving away from some of the gimmicky and gadgetry that we’ve seen until now, like digital screens you can interact with but they don’t really add to the experience,” said Askew.

In 2016, Canada saw the growth of the luxury sector and the discounted brand name sector, which includes stores such as Saks Off Fifth, Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls and Winners.

Retailers are hoping Canadians will continue to have an appetite for the experience of shopping for high-end goods and also be driven into “off-price” stores in the hopes of finding a bargain.

Just Posted

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today, some complain of long lines

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia are heading to the polls today… Continue reading

Kennedy Stewart named mayor of Vancouver; one of several B.C. turnovers

VANCOUVER — Former New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart has won a neck-and-neck… Continue reading

‘In our bloodline:’ Land-based learning links curriculum with Indigenous culture

REGINA — A school day for six-year-old Hunter Sasakamoose can start with… Continue reading

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Most Read