Retail Outlook

The wave of disruption to the retail industry continues, but retailers and stakeholders now have a clearer vision of where the industry is headed. Against the backdrop of the strongest consumer market in over a decade, supported by near 50 year-low unemployment, robust consumer spending and strong 18 year-high consumer confidence, the 2018 holiday season brought healthy results for a select number of retailers, particularly those executing a strategy designed for the new world order of retailing. It also amplified the ongoing narrative of the industry’s strong getting stronger – one of the themes highlighted in this paper.

Despite this mostly positive setting, we have entered 2019 amidst market volatility, a nascent trade war with China and the prospects of a slowdown in global growth, particularly in China and Europe. Any combination of such factors could once again cloud the retail sector picture and challenge retailers less prepared for change.

With an eye towards these developing factors, we evaluate the trends shaping retail today and spotlight the critical themes we believe will impact retail deal-making in 2019.