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Even Karen Thinks These Retail Statistics Are Impressive

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Karen J. Customer is a spoiled, mean little diva. 

If she were to give you a list of demands, here’s what it would look like: the product she gets from you should be well-made, durable, and easy to use. It also needs to be dirt cheap, come in at least a dozen design varieties, and perform flawlessly from the get-go. It needs to be functional, practical, beautiful, modern, unique, and easily available without looking like it was mass-produced. Karen would also like you to cater to her every need while she shops. If she doesn’t feel appreciated, she’ll demand to see the manager immediately.  

There are a million Karens. Tens of millions. And if you don’t provide everything on the list? Don’t worry, your competitor will. And Karen will forget she ever knew you.

Retail statistics show that the market is full of sharks. Your competition is vicious. They’re cunning. They’re hungry. Between them and fickle customers, you have to fight hard to keep your head above water. It’s a ruthless environment where you have to keep one-upping yourself to turn any sort of profit.

You’ve got to show the world what makes your company unique. Stand out by offering a completely bespoke experience, by optimizing your business model to suit your brand’s personality, and by staying up-to-date with the latest tech advancements and strategies. 

Here’s how.

Karen’s Favorite Retail Stats

  • Global retail sales are expected to exceed $26.29 trillion by the end of 2019.
  • Retail accounts for $2.6 trillion in sales in the United States alone.
  • For every $100 you spend at a local small business, $68 stays in town.
  • Mobile offers are redeemed 10 times more frequently than print offers.
  • 69% of Americans say they have purchased an item online. 
  • 84% of online shoppers in the United States review social media websites before making a purchase.

General Statistics

1. Global retail sales are expected to exceed $26.29 trillion by the end of 2019.

(Statista)

Despite seeing massive changes in recent times, the retail sector is thriving. An increasing fervor for consumerism is driving up sales each year, and innovations such as AI product recommendations and mobile shopping have made it easy to get whatever we want, whenever we want it. Simply put, shopping has become such an important part of life that we keep finding new ways to make purchases faster, simpler, and more convenient. 

2. eCommerce sales have increased 11.4% since last year.

(The Balance, 2019)

Here’s yet another item on our list of retail sales statistics that suggests shopping is becoming humankind’s favorite pastime. As online stores thrive, eCommerce is becoming particularly popular because it allows for an easy, seamless shopping experience.  

3. Retail accounts for $2.6 trillion in annual sales in the United States alone.

(Statista)

The US is famous around the world for its culture of consumerism. We live in a country where buying things is almost a part of our national identity. By the same token, there are no shoppers savvier than Americans. From mom-and-pop stores to large chains, the retail sector employs more than 42 million people nationwide. 

4. The average monthly income for a small to mid-sized retailer is $22,340.

(Vend

Retail store statistics show us that the gross income of SME retailers isn’t huge, but it’s not to be sneezed at either. Given that economic experts have been predicting the demise of small retailers for years, these numbers prove that small businesses are still alive and kicking. Furniture retailers earn the most, with an average of $39,572 per month, while cosmetics retailers earn the least: $18,644 per month on average. 

While cosmetics seems to be doing poorly, we predict that this industry could start thriving in the next few years. The beauty industry is constantly growing and expanding, and the popularity of organic products is on the rise. Makeup, skincare, and hair-care retailers who want to appeal to their audiences should consider jumping on the green bandwagon if they want to cultivate an image as an eco-conscious brand. 

5. Retailers’ profit margins are usually between 0.5% and 3.5%.

(Investopedia)

If you look at US retail industry statistics, you might be surprised at how low retailers’ profit margins are. The exact numbers depend on the industry, but clothing and electronics retailers have the most volatile profit margins. Web retailers generally have low profit margins, while building supply and distribution retailers have high profit margins. 

So, what’s the reason behind low profit margins for retailers? For the most part, it’s because of the highly competitive market. Not only is there a huge number of stores, but the internet has made it possible for people to easily compare prices between different brands and find the cheapest possible deal. There’s also the fact that retail spending is mostly discretionary. People are picky and can afford to spend a lot of time searching for a better price, and they can change their minds without any consequences. 

6. Retailers process an average of 482 transactions per store every month.

(Vend)

US retail sales statistics show that America has a fairly high number of monthly transactions. The average transaction value in America is $53.98, while in Australia that figure is $56.80 and in the UK it’s $40.65. When comparing industries, the furniture industry has the most-valuable average transaction ($248.42). This is followed by jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores ($126.87), then shoe stores ($111.44). Specialty food stores ($22.88) and alcohol stores ($36.51) have the lowest average transactions.  

7. For every $100 you spend at a local small business, $68 stays in town.

(Forbes)

Retail employment statistics show that it pays to shop at local small businesses. Of every $100 you spend in a local store, $68 goes towards paychecks for locally employed folk, non-profit organizations, and locally sourced goods. It’s a great way to support your own community because all that money will be reinvested in the businesses and households around you. Big malls and chain stores might be more convenient at times, but shopping local pays off in the long run. After all, small businesses employment accounts for about 47.5% of the entire US workforce. 

Brick-and-Mortar vs. Online Retail Statistics

8. Only 56% of Gen Z consumers bought something from a physical store in the last six months, compared to 65% of other respondents.

(Big Commerce)

Kids have their noses glued to their screens all day anyway, right? When you think about it, it makes sense that a smaller number of Gen Z consumers prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores on a regular basis. They are also two times more likely to make a purchase on Instagram than the average consumer, and three times more likely to buy something over Snapchat.   

9. 69% of Americans say they have purchased an item online.

(NPR/Marist; iPerceptions)

Here are some more US retail statistics to show you just how much we shop online: 43% of US residents say they shop online on a regular basis, while 25% do so at least once a month, 16% do so at least once a week, and 2% do it daily. If you own an online retail business, this information may be useful for your marketing strategy: One survey found that 63% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product reviews and ratings. 

10. Amazon owns 49% of online spending, which accounts for 5% of all US retail sales.

(BigCommerce)

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest online retailer of all? E-retail statistics say it’s Amazon, of course. The tech giant is overtaking the market, and judging by the antitrust investigation the US government is launching against Amazon, the company is practically trying to monopolize online. Is Amazon engaging in shady business practices or is Jeff Bezos simply a business genius? We’ll leave that conclusion up to you. 

Regardless of what you think of Amazon, the company’s retail power is undeniable. Most Americans will pick Amazon over other online stores for several reasons: competitive prices, free shipping, and a great recommendation algorithm among them. It’s also a one-stop shop for everything from shoes and clothing to books and electronics. Amazon is mowing down its competition so extensively that, in a survey of more than 850 independent small businesses, 90% reported that Amazon had had a negative impact on their sales. 

11. 72% of young shoppers search online before entering a brick-and-mortar retail store.

(nchannel)

Retail shopping statistics show that modern consumers like to do their research. Instead of simply going to the mall and walking around until they find something they like, most of them will go in prepared. Doing a quick online search can easily tell us which shop to go to if we want to find the best deals. We can also look at reviews to figure out whether the product we’re looking to buy is worth our hard-earned cash. Online research has simply become a good strategy that savvy consumers use to prepare for every major purchase. 

Mobile Shopping Statistics

12. 6% of online shoppers would rather use a mobile wallet than any other payment method.

(BigCommerce)

While mobile wallets are convenient for making quick, easy payments, they still aren’t nearly as popular as more conventional payment methods. For now, only 6% of people use them to shop, but this number is likely to grow in the near future.  

13. Gen Z and millennial shoppers are twice as likely to use mobile wallets than Gen X or baby boomers.

(BigCommerce)

Retail statistics show that, unsurprisingly, younger generations enjoy using mobile wallets more than the average consumer. Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay are the most popular payment options. Given that a large chunk of Generation Z doesn’t really remember the time when people didn’t have mobile phones and constant internet access, it’s no wonder their expectations of a good mobile experience are higher than those of older users. Today’s mobile payment technologies are fast and easy, so we can expect them to become more prevalent over the next few years. 

14. 59% of all sessions on eCommerce websites take place on mobile devices.

(Smart Insights)

Retail data shows that mobiles are slowly but surely overtaking desktop devices. As we’ve pointed out, the younger generations rely on them a lot, and they’ve already become an essential part of our lives. Most of us rarely turn our phones off even when we go to bed, so is it any wonder we like to use them for shopping? We can now lie in bed and browse through the new fashion collection at our favorite clothing website, or pick a new lamp for our desk while we ride the subway.

15. 77% of shoppers use their mobile during in-store shopping sessions.

(Cision)

Retail sales reports indicate that not only do we use phones to shop, we also use them while shopping in physical stores. Why? For a variety of reasons — to answer product-related questions, to compare prices with other retailers, and to locate other nearby stores. So, does this mean modern-day shoppers are solely focused on the mobile experience? Actually, no. 

Like Karen, the contemporary shopper wants it all — from phones to desktops to brick-and-mortar stores, they want an integrated, omnichannel experience. You have to impress them at every step if you want to gain their loyalty and beat your competitors. Once they feel like they can count on your brand regardless of the channel they use to access your products, you’ll have their trust.   

16. Mobile offers are redeemed 10 times more frequently than print offers.

(Brick and Mobile)

Census retail sales figures show that print offers are almost ineffective in comparison to mobile offers. People check their phones more often than they look at their mailboxes or browse through ads in magazines, and they’re more likely to respond when they are online on their mobiles. This doesn’t mean that magazine ads don’t have their place, however; magazines and newspapers are better at leaving high-impact messages. They’re also great for getting repeated exposure and targeting specific demographics. 

17. 12% of Americans pay for in-store purchases at least occasionally by scanning their cellphones at the register.

(Pew Research Center)

While you occasionally forget to bring your wallet, you’re much less likely to forget your phone. According to this retail sales report from Pew Research Center, there’s a growing number of people who are using their phones instead of their credit cards at cash registers. The future is here, and it’s bringing us shiny new ways to overspend all our hard-earned cash! 

18. Users who have a negative mobile experience are 62% less likely to purchase from that site in the future.

(Think With Google)

Still not convinced you need to optimize for mobile? Then let this stat shatter all your doubts: People now rely on their phones for everything, and when they run into a poorly made site, they’ll quickly bounce. Why would they want to go through the hassle of scrolling through a webpage that lags and won’t let them click on things? What’s worse, an ugly-looking website that doesn’t work makes you look unprofessional. 

Social media

19. Both millennials and members of Gen Z spend more on items they see on Snapchat and Instagram than from any other source.

(BigCommerce)

Instagram and Snapchat are great advertising tools. Retail stats show that they’re very effective at drawing the attention of younger generations, and brands who decide to advertise through these platforms can easily target these two demographics. You get to showcase your product through photographs and short videos, and millennials and Gen Z users will respond to it with interest.

20. 84% of online shoppers in the United States review social media websites before making a purchase.

(Pew Research Center)

Consumers don’t only react to ads — they also look for comments, reviews, and the general vibe of your product before deciding to buy it. Social media is the perfect place to figure out what people really think about your brand and the things you make. 

21. 39% of Americans have discussed their experiences with purchases or consumer transactions on social media.

(Pew Research Center)

If a consumer really likes or really hates something, their online friends are bound to find out about it. Retail statistics show that they’re eager to share their experiences on social media. If you’re crafty, you can use this to your advantage. If someone makes a comment about your product on your social media page, make sure to have the customer support team respond promptly. Thank the consumer for their feedback — even if it’s negative — and ask what could be done in the future to improve their experience. People like feeling like they have a say.  

What more do consumers want?

22. 54% of retailers believe customer experience should be their focus.

(V12; Nielsen)

And they’re not wrong. Good customer experience makes or breaks a business. How else can you gain loyal customers and keep people coming back to your business over and over again? Here’s another stat that says a lot about consumers’ trust and the importance of customer experience. As much as 92% of consumers put more trust in word-of-mouth and their peers’ recommendations than advertising. Only 33% of consumers put their faith in various forms of advertisements.

23. 89% of consumers shop at bargain-driven retailers.

(Business News Daily)

Who doesn’t love a good bargain? Retail foot traffic statistics show that millennials and Gen Z are the most likely generations to visit stores that offer discounts and sales. If you want to draw in the younger crowds, make sure to give them good offers that save them a few bucks. 

24. In 2018, 51% of eCommerce brands offered same-day delivery.

(BRP Consulting)

In 2017, only 16% of brands offered same-day delivery. People are so eager to get their products as fast as possible that experts predict within the next two years, 65% of retailers will offer same-day delivery. 

Retail Theft Statistics

25. Organized retail crime (ORC) costs the retail industry approximately $30 billion each year.

(NRF)

Organized retail crime is the biggest cause of inventory shrinkage for stores. The only way for retailers to fight this is to place more trust in their employees and employ special strategies to keep an eye on the store. Encourage shop assistants to stay alert on the floor, and include safety and security in their training when hiring. Revising your store layout, installing cameras, and introducing large mirrors can also help you catch thieves or discourage them from stealing in the first place. 

26. 58% of self-checkout shoplifters claim that stealing from a self-checkout machine is easy.

(LPRC)

Walking by a self-checkout machine without scanning every item in your basket is as easy as taking candy from a baby. These machines are problematic on their own, but the fact that they contribute to inventory shrinkage and poor customer service makes them a bad investment for a lot of retailers. US retail statistics on theft also show that 44% of shoplifters who steal something claim they would have been deterred had there been an employee there to pay attention. 

27. On average in 2019, return fraud costs $1,766.27, with a median of $171.

(Forbes)

Return fraud is one of the most common types of theft in the retail industry. You can cut down on it by introducing more restrictive returns policies — such as cut off dates — and by always demanding to see a full receipt. Fashion retailers should consider investing in “shark tags,” which deter people from purchasing expensive items then returning them after they’ve been worn. 

FAQ

How big is the retail industry in the US?

In America, retail accounts for $2.6 trillion in sales yearly. The US is one of the most shopping-oriented countries in the world, and it relies heavily on consumer spending to prop up its economy. Our US retail statistics demonstrate that the culture of consumerism remains strong in America. 

What are retail sales?

Retail sales are the total number of goods sold over a certain period of time. Usually, when talking about sales, consumer spending habits and demand for finished product are tracked by all food service and retail stores. This data is taken into account when determining figures for nation-wide statistics. 

What is a retail product?

It’s simply an item that’s sold in a store, whether that’s online or in a brick-and-mortar shop. 

How many small retailers are in the US?

There are around 652,000 retail stores in the US. About 594,000, or 91% of them, employ fewer than 20 employees. 

Karen J. Customer Is a Sweet, Friendly Woman

It’s not really you versus your customers. All Karen wants is good service and to be treated with respect. If you make her happy, she’s more than willing to tell her friends all about your great company. 

Our retail statistics are there to show you how to be the kind of brand that keeps getting better the longer it stays in business. Nowadays, the key to that largely rests on good social media advertising, website optimization, and your general attitude towards customers and employees. Keeping them happy is the perfect way to generate more profit, build brand loyalty, and have the kind of business you’ll be proud of.  

Once you do that, Karen is all yours.

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