The Future of Retail 2020

10 Trends that Will Shape the Year Ahead

Executive Summary

The retail industry is undergoing a major transformation in ecommerce and brick-and-mortar. The era of inventory-led retail is ending, and the shift toward brands and the customer experience is emerging. Set against a backdrop of heightened economic uncertainty, we examine the changing fundamentals of the retail sector and the most important trends that will shape the year ahead.

How much will US consumers spend on retail and ecommerce in 2020?

We forecast a moderation in growth rates vs. previous years, with total retail sales expected to grow 2.0% to $5.574 trillion and ecommerce sales expected to grow 12.8% to $666.28 billion.

Which retailers will succeed, and which will struggle?

Amazon, Walmart, Target and other leaders are well-positioned for the year ahead, as are many of the direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands now expanding into brick-and-mortar. Department stores and other traditional mall-based retailers will continue to struggle.

Which innovations will reshape physical retail?

In brick-and-mortar, innovation in experiential and frictionless retail will begin to scale. The rise of click-and-collect, easy returns, mobile order-ahead and cashierless checkout will help streamline transactions. Meanwhile, physical “Retail as a Service” platforms will bring more digitally native brands to the masses through brick-and-mortar storefronts and experiences.

Which innovations will influence how consumers shop online?

Social commerce will evolve how consumers discover and shop for brands digitally with more shoppable content and a streamlined path to checkout. Digital installment plans will make ecommerce purchases more affordable without saddling consumers with added debt.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report looks at what to expect for the US retail and ecommerce markets in 2020, highlighting 10 key trends that will drive improvements in consumer behavior and retailer performance.

KEY STAT: Total US retail sales are expected to grow 2.0% to $5.574 trillion in 2020, representing a deceleration of the retail market amid rising economic uncertainty.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Key Themes Influencing the 2020 Retail Landscape
  3. eMarketer’s 2020 Retail and Ecommerce Forecast
  4. No. 1: D2C Brands Will Leap into the Mainstream Through Traditional Means
  5. No. 2: Frictionless Commerce Will Speed Up Brick-and-Mortar Transactions
  6. No. 3: Brandless Brands Will Surge as Consumers Prioritize Value Over Marketing
  1. No. 4: Social Commerce Will Succeed in Closing the Loop on Limited-Edition Products—but Will Mostly Shine Mid-Funnel
  2. No. 5: Shoppable Content Will Evolve Toward Sight, Sound and Motion
  3. No. 6: Fast Delivery Competition Will Accelerate the Ecommerce Channel Shift
  4. No. 7: ‘Retail as a Service’ Will Lower Barriers to Entry in Ecommerce and Brick-and-Mortar
  5. No. 8: Subscription Commerce Will Heat Up as Retailers Look to Loyalty for Growth
  6. No. 9: Recommerce Repositions as Shoppers Get Comfortable with Secondhand Fashions
  1. No. 10: Digital Installment Plans Will Gain Popularity for Budget-Conscious Consumers in a Tighter Economy
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  5. Sources
  6. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Dani Cushion
Interviewed October 30, 2019
Ryan Dell
MVMT Watches
Interviewed August 26, 2019
Jaime Fabricant
PepsiCo Beverages
Director, Store of the Future Innovation and Execution
Interviewed November 22, 2019
Bobby Figueroa
CEO and Founder
Interviewed November 19, 2019
Aaron Magness
Interviewed October 26, 2018
Dave Morgan
CEO and Founder
Interviewed December 13, 2019
Paul Paradis
Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer
Interviewed November 18, 2019
Amish Tolia
Co-Founder and Co-CEO
Interviewed November 1, 2019
Jason Young
Quotient Technology
Chief Marketing and Media Officer
Interviewed November 19, 2019
Jason Rappaport
Universal Standard
Chief of Staff
Interviewed November 18, 2019

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Andrew Lipsman


Bianca Carasus
Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Rimma Kats
Executive Editor
Amy Rotondo
Research Manager, US
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst

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