What you need to know about retail trends in 2023

How to achieve profitable growth in times of economic adversity

In the last few years, retailers have been dealing with all kinds of challenges, including changing consumer behaviour, cost pressures, and supply chain constraints. The current economic climate does not exactly lift the pressure off the sector. That’s why we would like to share our latest views and recommendations about retail trends and backgrounds below – so you can still achieve profitable, sustainable growth in times like these.

The conscious consumer: affordability, health, and sustainability

One of the most intriguing trends in retail is conscious consumerism. This phenomenon refers to the rise of a sizeable group of consumers who are making conscious choices about what, why and how to buy (food & retail) products. When the trend emerged, more and more consumers were choosing health and sustainability over affordability – and health over sustainability. However, the economic climate has changed dramatically in the course of a year. So when we conducted a second survey, at the end of 2022, consumer priorities had altered accordingly. 

For instance, in the current economic climate, 7 out of 10 Dutch consumers will buy the cheapest product, even if it’s not sustainably produced or sourced. Contrary to the popular opinion that younger generations are more concerned about climate change, this number is even higher for Millennials and Gen Z (almost 8 out of 10). Of course, younger generations are usually less affluent than older ones, so maybe financial constraints are holding them back from more eco-friendly decisions. When it comes to health, things are different. When respondents were asked to choose between health and affordability, their key priority turned out to be health. Apparently, the purchasing decisions of Dutch consumers are driven mostly by individual interests (affordability, health) rather than by common interests (sustainability).

What do these results mean for retailers? Consumers do care about sustainability, but even more about affordability and health. It might be wise to balance and temper retail messaging around sustainability, and focus more on value and health. On another note: what the survey also revealed was that overall, for more than half of the respondents the convenience of online retail is hard to resist. Especially younger generations are quick to recognise the advantages of online purchasing and are willing to pay more for products online. They are also more open to ultra-fast delivery (10 to 15 minutes) and additional costs. For more detail, please read our report.  

Conscious Consumerism

Read the report!

More Retail Trends

Next to conscious consumerism, Deloitte has identified five other key retail trends for 2023 that could help retailers grow their business in the year ahead. These are discussed in detail in Retail Trends 2023.  

  1. Unlocking value.
    Ongoing cost pressures will lead to difficult decisions about prioritising capital allocation. That is why there will most likely be a renewed focus on performance improvement in 2023. More than ever, retailers will be interested in identifying, improving, and creating efficiencies across all areas of the business, and focused on maximising the value of available assets. 
  2. Experience innovation 
    The importance of innovative technology and business models will increase further in order to respond to changing consumer behaviour across the entire customer journey. Retailers will be able to differentiate themselves if they engage directly with consumers, support the growth of communities, and actively encourage interaction with their brands. Social commerce and gaming will offer extra growth opportunities, as will immersive, technology filled physical stores. 
  3. Planet & Society
    Retailers do not only have to live up to rules and regulations regarding planet & society, but they can also benefit from major growth opportunities connected to their net zero commitments. In fact, 2023 could be the year when they can make their targets – which might have seemed too ambitious before - seem achievable.
  4. People & Leadership
    Retail is a people business. If employees don’t feel fulfilled or looked after, customer service will suffer. It’s essential for retailers to consider what really matters to a new generation of retail employees, while navigating new ways of working, challenging decisions on cost, and delivering on net zero ambitions. This requires strong, empathetic and purposeful leadership.
  5. The impact of AI on the retail industry in 2023
    And then there’s AI, with its potential to cause major disruption in the industry this year. There are a number of ways in which AI will have a severe impact, from Personalisation and Predictive Analytics to Inventory Management, Automation of repetitive tasks, Chatbots, and Image recognition. For instance, looking at Predictive Analytics, AI could be used to analyse data from various sources (including customer data, sales data, and social media data) to predict customer behaviour and trends. This can help retailers to make more informed decisions about storage, pricing, and marketing. For more detail, see Retail Trends 2023

Consumer Insights

To better understand changing consumer trends, sentiment and behaviour, Deloitte monitors the attitudes of over 24,000 consumers across 24 countries every month. Deloitte’s Global Consumer tracker pulses consumers on financial wellbeing, price perception and spending intentions. We offer insights into how and where consumers shop, how they deal with rising prices and which choices they make. 

Visit the interactive dashboard to discover the latest findings on the current consumer mindset and filter the data by country, age and month. 

For more information and PoVs on retail, please visit our website. If you would like to discuss what the key trends in retail could mean for your business, do not hesitate to contact us. 

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