February 02, 2024
Jef De Niel, Bart Muskala
The retail sector is in flux. New trends and developments are casting their shadows ahead and having a major impact on the way we shop. From the rise of healthier options in the fast food market, the impact of sustainable shopping to the changing power dynamics in supermarkets. In this article, retail expert Accurat makes 10 predictions for the retail sector in 2024.
Chicken and less alcohol: the 2 main food trends of 2024 according to De Telegraaf.
Consumers in Belgium are becoming increasingly health-conscious, leading to a growing demand for chicken and plant-based alternatives. This trend is expected to continue in 2024, even in the fast food market.
We can therefore expect to see more chicken burgers, veggie burgers and vegetarian croquettes on menus. Just think of existing examples such as the McPlant, the Veggie Double Whopper and the McKroket, all without meat obviously.
Of course, not only vegetarian alternatives are popular. Chicken is also doing incredibly well. KFC, for example, has had some decent years. Similar chains like Belchicken are doing well and opened a lot of new locations last year. Our prediction is that there will not only be more chicken on the menu, but also on the map.
Last year, everyone but Delhaize seemed to be a winner in Belgium. This year, things seem to be different.
Specifically for Delhaize Supermarkets, we expect a rise in March compared to the previous year. Considering the strikes of March and April 2023, this isn't an illogical result in a year-on-year analysis. For their market competitors, the opposite is true: they will each record a loss.
For almost all supermarket chains, it's a challenge to conduct a "fair" analysis of their brand evolution, taking into account the extraordinary circumstances of last year. The solution must be found in making a comparison with the market, rather than solely focusing on the performance of their own brand.
Action has had quite a few strong years, no doubt about it. Whether that growth is sustainable, is something we doubt. In countries like Belgium and particularly the Netherlands, where they have been active for exactly 30 years since last year, growth is gradually saturating.
The competition has learned a lot from Action and is finally able to put up a fight. Wibra, for instance, is back and grabbing a slice of Action's pie with many new store openings.
Additionally, new competitors are emerging, like TEDi which opened its first store in Tongeren and Bilzen. Moreover, the ‘Action competitor’ is soon opening a branch in Oudenaarde. Besides these physically present players, there are also online players like Temu and AliExpress to consider.
Existing brands are therefore creating a barrier and increasingly copying the discount retailer's tricks... probably with success for the first time in 2024.
Consumers are increasingly seeking a positive shopping experience. Retailers who capitalize on this will reap the benefits in 2024.
Chains that invest in their stores are rewarded with curious newcomers or returnees and more frequent loyal visitors. A large part continues to return even after that (re)acquaintance. Especially those living nearby who are easily swayed.
A significantly revamped, pleasant store leads to "location loyalty," the allegiance to a "nearby store." This type of loyalty often even breaks through "brand loyalty." Those who previously bypassed a store are invited to take a look and are often pleasantly surprised.
In 2024, shoppers leave their nearby store behind for a better shopping experience. New experiences go hand in hand with convenience and are becoming more important than the brand attributes they were so fond of in 2023.
The paper leaflet is a traditional marketing tool for retailers, although the number of paper brochures has significantly declined in recent years.
The reasons for this decline are diverse:
Yet, the paper leaflet will still remain an important marketing tool in 2024. Smarter distribution - whether retailers choose to reduce or improve it - will increasingly be driven by data. Company data, open data, and insights into consumer behavior will be combined to make informed decisions. With one goal: to generate more impact despite a smaller circulation of leaflets.
The paper leaflet will remain an important marketing tool in 2024, but optimization is key
In summary, fewer leaflets will be distributed, but the impact and visibility of the remaining ones will increase. Therefore, brochure optimization becomes the main focus.
A lot has happened in the DIY world in recent years. If it wasn't for the exceptional role it played during the Corona pandemic, then it was for the success of online pure players such as sanitairwinkel.nl and verfwinkel.nl. One of the players that has extremely distinguished itself in this playing field is Hornbach. The relatively new player, which has now been present in the Dutch landscape for more than 25 years, keeps winning in the last few years.
Our forecast for 2024 may be surprising and somewhat bold, but we expect a slowdown in Hornbach's growth in the coming year. This forecast is supported by the news reports surrounding the other DIYs and, for example, Joost de Beijer's inspiring story about the three pillars of Intergamma's new retail model, presented at RetailTrend Live. Hornbach's success has inspired competitors not to watch passively. We expect Gamma, Karwei, Praxis and other market players to come forward with new concepts and strategies, resulting in a challenge for Hornbach and ultimately a slowdown of their previous success.
The Corona crisis has transformed shopping streets. Despite the known decline in footfall, there are also positive developments.
Cities and merchants are investing in making shopping streets more attractive or organizing events to attract visitors, with success! These efforts lead to a yo-yo motion: in quiet periods the number of visitors is lower than before, but in busy periods it is actually higher.
In quiet periods, we see a trend where consumers store online. For special occasions, such as the holidays, they still come to the shopping streets. In this way, organized events create additional, unique occasions that arouse curiosity and make people flock to physical stores.
Therefore, we believe that 2024 will be marked on the one hand by a further decline in total visits, but on the other hand by greater rewards for retailers who make the effort to attract shoppers at the times that matter.
On July 1, 2024, the cigarette ban in supermarkets will go into effect in Belgium and the Netherlands.
In addition to discouraging smoking, the smoking ban will affect consumer shopping behavior. Smokers will seek alternative outlets, such as gas stations or night stores.
Later this year, we will publish a detailed analysis examining the impact of the smoking ban on several supermarkets, including Lidl (discontinued in 2021) and Albert Heijn (discontinued as of January 2024). We will evaluate the strategies of supermarkets that have previously stopped selling cigarettes and how these changes have affected the customer base.
We expect that the cigarette ban in supermarkets will lead to a limited decrease in customer numbers. This is partly because some supermarkets may, for example, open a tobacco store next to their own store to accommodate traffic anyway or find other alternatives to mitigate the damage.
Some fashion trends are timeless, but the stores themselves, unfortunately, are not. Traditional clothing stores have been clashing with major online retailers for years. Fast fashion and online shopping continue to grow, which is not getting into the heads of traditional clothing stores.
If we keep in mind the yo-yo movement of the shopping streets, the increasing food options in shopping streets and the decreasing number of stores, we can predict that 2024 could be tough for traditional clothing stores.
Some retailers are still trying to find a way around this, for example by capitalizing on the "experience" to keep their stores relevant. Unfortunately, the convenience of online shopping usually still wins the day over the classic fitting room.
Thus, we expect the number of fashion retailers to continue to decline.
By 2024, Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, is expected to lose ground to Green Friday. Despite annual growth during Black Friday, we expect this growth to be lower for the first time this year.
Green Friday is an emerging movement where consumers are more conscious about their purchases, focusing on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. The idea is that consumers are less in need of a traditional shopping day and more inclined to make sustainable choices.
Several brands are participating in Green Friday by, for example, closing their physical stores on Black Friday (such as Dille and Kamille and Wondr), promoting ecological initiatives and encouraging influencers to promote sustainable purchases.
An inspiring example comes from Canadian brand Tentree, which sells clothing made from recycled materials. On Green Friday, Tentree plants 10 trees for every purchase.
We expect that stores in Belgium and the Netherlands will also pay more attention to Green Friday. By working together for a more sustainable future, we can all make a difference, the thinking goes.
In 2024, retailers face significant challenges, ranging from the need to adapt to changing consumer trends to growing competition and increasing pressure to operate more sustainably.
At Accurat, we strive for in-depth insights and accurate predictions. That is why we will analyze one of these 10 predications each month, using our own in-house data. This will not only keep our finger on the pulse of evolving retail trends, but also provide valuable insights that can help retailers effectively adapt to changing market conditions.