Retail sales: up 1.4 percent in April.
That’s nearly double the expected 0.8 percent.
That’s good news for both retailers and consumers. Consumers are pushing retailers from several different angles, and the smart ones are responding in ways that are making the cash register ring.
Here’s what’s going on. The Boomers, that huge bubble of forever youthful adults, continues to buy young. And, more and more, they’re reaching for products that are environmentally sustainable. For example, the other morning on NPR during a story about hybrid SUVs, I heard a dad say that he wants the space of an SUV but wants the fuel efficiency of a hybrid. Not only does he want it, he said, but he gets a lot of comments from his teenage daughter about how he’s not helping to save the planet. So some Boomers are catching it from both their own consciences and from their socially conscious kids.
On the other hand, tweens and teens are buying older and savvier. With wads of disposable income, this group gobbles up cell phones, MP3 players and clothing with a voracious appetite. And their influence is becoming visible in categories you might not usually associate with teenagers. Like hybrid SUVs.
In response, smart retailers are answering with new retail experiences. Malls are morphing into lifestyle centers and national big box stores are combating consumer malaise with homogeneity by acting local.
So who’s not being a smart retailer? According to a late May study, long distance providers and mobile phones are failing to deliver against consumer expectations, while appreciative snaps go to JetBlue, New Balance, Poland Spring, BP, Blackberry, Sony and Apple.
Are you meeting the expectations of today’s changing consumers?