I think you will see three dominant shopping trends emerge in the next decade.
Discount Stores Will Continue to Thrive
Wal-Mart, Target and Costco have conditioned us to expect ever lower costs on everyday products. This current recession has only reinforced a desire to buy in bulk, seek the lowest price and feel good about it. Bargain shopping is here to stay.
Online Shopping Will Continue to Grow
While the year-to-year growth rates will slow, online retail sales will climb every year. Americans greatly value convenience, and online shopping is ultimate convenience. We use the Internet to compare products and read reviews, find who sells what we're looking for and search for the lowest prices. I know people who have developed an almost personal relationship with Amazon.com, ordering everything from books to appliances to disposable diapers, all with free shipping and an open return policy.
Offline Shopping Will Become All About the Experience
Social shopping habits—going to the mall to shop, stroll and see and be seen—has been ingrained in three generations of shoppers. Despite trends pointing away from shopping in person, the social element of shopping still must be satisfied. No matter how much we buy in bulk, get things at the cheapest price and browse efficiently online, that does not satisfy the "high-touch" need we have developed around the activity of shopping. Shopping malls will become much more social, interactive and experiential. Our purchases per mall visit may, in fact, decline, but we will still go to the mall because it provides an experience—a family outing, a chance to mingle with other people without really having to interact with them.
A glimpse of the future in the desert