The Top Retail Trends We’re Predicting for 2022

January 11, 2022

As we kick off 2022, the team at ChangeUp is energized by the ongoing discussions around what the future of retail looks like. So, we asked some of the folks here, from a variety of departments and roles, to share what trends and innovations they think we can expect to see in the new year:

1. Redefining the role of the store

The future of retail is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. From rethinking formats to hybrid spaces, there will be a focused effort on clearly defining the role of the store in the overall brand experience. In order to win in today’s omnichannel world, retailers need to get closer to consumers and provide them with the convenience and experiences they demand.

2. Innovation > Trends

Continued pandemic unknowns have many companies jumping to the trending “solution” – social commerce, predictive AI, metaverse stores, and so on. In 2022, I expect we’ll see greater separation between brands that follow, and brands that truly innovate. Brands should seek out to do the right thing, not just the new thing.

3. Be Bold

We’re already seeing it in fashion – bright colors and bold lines. There’s pent up energy that will soon explode in the design field. More than even color, I imagine we’ll also see it in spaces like advertising, for example, as brands struggle for consumers’ attention.

4. Sustainability-conscious

We’re seeing more and more retailers stress the importance of building sustainably and taking action toward a net zero carbon goal. Taking the path to renewable energy solutions and baking it into their processes is increasingly common. Decreasing environmental impact of the site and in your physical spaces and then marketing those practices to customers will be more crucial. Yet consumers expect these changes to be done authentically and with purpose at the core, as greenwashing won’t suffice in today’s market.

5. Tech that empowers relationships

Ongoing labor shortages will challenge even the most-tech adverse retailers to double down their bets in this space. I expect to see accelerated adoption of automation tools, self-service technologies, and app-based experiences that will free up employees to focus on their greatest asset – human-to-human interaction.

  • Patrick Madden, Retail Technology Strategist

6. Getting REALly localized

Store concepts like Nordstrom Local and Nike Unite have paved the way in creating REAL localized shopping experiences, (more than just slapping the city name on a wall). Localized store designs and graphics are great, but it’s now more about data driving a highly curated product selection that’s specific to the local people and climate.

  • Haley Kunka, Associate Design Director

7. Retailtainment

It may seem like brand activations are getting smaller, nimbler, and more digitally driven to deliver convenience. While that may be the case for some brands, I predict there will be a countered decision by many to provide guests with a scaled-up experience that offers a richer, more human-centered, tactically driven brand immersion. These experiences will continue to make their way into retail, blurring the lines between entertainment and retail.

  • Marty McCauley, Creative Director

8. Service+

Service-based offerings will continue to be the new face of physical retail. Retailers are expanding their business models to include companion services, boosting customer loyalty, and added value. How these new offerings come to life in-store will be crucial to building brand loyalty.

  • Amanda McAllister, Creative Director

9. S P A C E

With continued supply chain concerns, most brands may be forced to consolidate their product assortment to those items which are both a) most relevant to the brand, and b) can be assured of consistent supply chains to support. Brands will have to ask themselves how to activate the newly freed up linear footage. Will they bulk out those core items or fill the space with something more experiential?

  • James Bacon, Design Director

10. Rethinking everything. Now what?

More than ever, consumers are rethinking everything right now, from the jobs they have, to the brands they support and to the stores they frequent. Retailers must evaluate decisions with fresh eyes and consider how customers’ changed mindset and behavior impacts the perception of their brand and the value of their retail experience.

While we’re looking forward to seeing which trends gain the most traction this year, the best of them will be the ones that stand the test of time; the ones that push the industry forward both creatively and technologically, while reinvigorating and inspiring consumers in the most unpredictable of times.