The Retail Dive Outlook on 2021

Note from the editor

The complete upending of everyday life in 2020 — and with it shopping patterns, consumer preferences, social interactions and nearly everything else — ushered in a period that compounded the industry's already monumental challenges. The combined pressures of the last year drove a true apocalypse for retailers — a term that may have been too hastily applied to the industry pre-pandemic. Retail Dive tracked 30 major bankruptcies in 2020, compared to 17 the year before. Store closure rates accelerated over the year too.

As the page turns on the year, however, the picture may not be universally bleak. Much of what retailers were forced to do to survive in 2020 — lean into e-commerce, offer consumers more pick up options, streamline supply chains, reconcile store footprints and connect with shoppers — will serve the industry well moving forward. The uncomfortable, unavoidable adaptions retailers made in 2020 could usher in long-term changes that benefit those left standing. Or, everything could revert to the before times patterns. 

With the pandemic far from over, the industry is at a pivotal moment in 2021. How pivotal remains to be seen, but while we wait for the chips to fall here's what Retail Dive is watching this year. 

Liza Casabona Deputy Editor

9 retail trends to watch in 2021

The pandemic will continue to reshape the industry and accelerate trends from consumer preferences to industry norms and structures in the year ahead.

• Published Jan. 12, 2021

After the extremes of 2020, retail resilience means a new sense of what's possible

A pandemic exposed the industry's vulnerabilities and latent survival skills. To weather the next disaster, companies must be agile and take risk seriously.

• Published Jan. 25, 2021

How DTC brands will approach physical retail in 2021

As cities empty and landlords look to ink deals, digitally native brands might have a chance to accelerate their brick-and-mortar strategies.

• Published Jan. 26, 2021

Where to run a store now

The pandemic has changed some consumer habits for the long term, and that alters the retail landscape.

• Published Feb. 1, 2021

8 DTC trends to watch in 2021

While the broader industry outlook remains uncertain, one thing is clear: Digitally native brands will continue to adapt and evolve in the year ahead.

• Published Feb. 3, 2021

The Retail Dive Outlook on 2021

The adaptions retailers forced on retailers last year were painful, but they may have ushered in long-term changes that are key to survival. We break down just how pivotal 2021 might be.

included in this trendline
  • 9 retail trends to watch in 2021
  • Top strategies DTC brands will pursue this year
  • How the pandemic altered the retail landscape
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Produced by our team of award-winning journalists, these Outlooks can help businesses navigate the uncertain road ahead in 2021.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.