Retail is one of the world’s most important industries. It’s a key indicator of economic health as retail sales are a crucial metric to determining consumer spending. Likewise, the retail industry provides a huge number of jobs and is a main driver of economic growth.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the global economy was primarily felt by retailers. As retail stores were forced to close to help enforce social distancing guidelines, the economy dipped with them. Over time, however, the retail industry has begun to recover as life begins to get a little more back to normal.
Today, retailers are going to work in a difficult economy and they’ll have to be more innovative than ever to thrive. With these statistics, however, you’ll be armed with the industry knowledge you need to succeed.
Retail is one of the country’s largest industries. It accounts for nearly one-third of the United States’ $21.4 trillion GDP. 
As big as it is, the retail industry is still projected to get considerably more massive over the next few years. 
Retail is absolutely integral to the economy as it is a sector that all people are involved in. Everyone has to buy food and clothes, and their shopping dollars help create a stable and functioning economy. 
While dollars are important, the retail industry also provides 52 million jobs to workers. That’s about 32% of the entire workforce. 
Despite COVID-19 challenges, retail sales were actually up year over year by August 2020. Sales lagged for a few months due to forced closures of non-essential businesses, but shoppers showed up later in the year to help businesses recover. 
Despite the growth of online retailers like Amazon, Walmart is still by far the world’s largest retailer. Amazon reported revenues of $164.1 billion in 2019, a far cry from Walmart’s numbers. 
Although it may seem like everyone shops online these days, 90% of retail sales still happen in-store. People aren’t ready to go fully digital when it comes to shopping. 
According to VendHQ, the average small retail business makes more than $20,000 each month with a gross margin of 50.96%. The numbers differ across industries as you might expect. Furniture retailers lead the pack with $39,752 per month. Beauty retailers average $18,644. 
Although most purchases still happen in-store, the majority of customers shop by utilizing many channels. They learn more about products online, engage with retailers on social media, and try to become as informed as possible before making a purchase in-store. 
Again, while most sales happen in-store, a significant majority of shoppers actually begin their buying journey before stepping into a store. That’s why it’s important for small businesses to have an online presence. 
People love shopping on their smartphones and tablets. However, they also lead to shorter sessions and increased cart abandonment. To help reduce this turnover, leading retailers are making their online stores more mobile-friendly and easier to use from a user-experience standpoint. That means implementing things like “searchandizing” tactics and mobile wallets. 
Why do so many purchases happen in-store? Because most people prefer it. The in-store shopping experience makes it easier for people to try things on, get their questions answered, and actually engage with and handle products before buying. 
Shoppers want to feel connected to the brands and retailers they love, but businesses are struggling to do that. Some retailers are taking steps to fix that, however. Take Best Buy, for instance, which sends team members to shoppers’ homes to recommend tech products that would fit their lifestyle. 
A website is only one part of the technology equation. Innovations like augmented reality, in-store navigation, self-checkout, and smart dressing rooms are helping to improve the in-store shopping experience. These innovations may not be cheap, but they’re worthwhile investments. 
Finally, personalization pays dividends. The vast majority of marketers say putting a shopper’s name on marketing materials helps conversions and drives sales. People want to feel seen! 
Even after a slower 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail industry is still booming. It’s a good thing, too, because it’s responsible for nearly one-third of the American GDP. As it bounces back, however, it is clear that shoppers continue to want a personalized, technologically enhanced shopping experience. For retailers, that means investing in a website, mobile shopping technology, and in-store innovations like self-checkout and augmented reality.