News 22.03.2024

Need to Know

Key takeaways from NRF’s State of Retail & the Consumer, Seyi Oduwole’s Foresight Friday and why nearly half of US parents support their adult children financially.

NRF’s State of Retail & the American Consumer: resilience, the Super Bowl and frictionless commerce

National Retail Federation (NRF), US

US – The National Retail Federation (NRF) presented its forecast for retail sales in 2024 during its annual State of Retail & the Consumer webinar on Wednesday 20 March 2024. The NRF predicted moderate but steady growth in retail sales for 2024, with an increase of between 2.5% and 3.5% compared to the previous year.

The resilience of consumers was highlighted as a driving force behind the American economy. Despite potential economic challenges, consumers continue to spend – especially on e-commerce and digital shopping experiences. Non-store and online sales are expected to continue their upward trend, growing between 7% and 9% year on year.

‘Consumers continue to spend in January and February and aren’t afraid to splurge when it comes to self-care and special events,’ said Katherine Cullen, vice-president of Industry and Consumer Insights at NRF, when presenting the current US consumer trends influencing the retail landscape.

NRF and Proper Insights and Analytics data showed US consumers spent more on the Super Bowl in 2024 than in 2022 and 2023. But, amid inflation, almost half of consumers say they are prioritising what they need rather than what they want. 'That’s a 26% increase over March 2020,’ said Cullen.

John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart US, insisted on convenience being a number one priority for US consumers. ‘People are willing to trade off, in some cases, prices for more convenient things. People are always looking for innovation and inspiration. The parts of the service sector or retail sector that find innovative ways to serve people in a way that saves them time, takes friction out of their lives, and lowers some of the decisions they have to go through, are the companies that will continue to win.’

For more insights on retail in the US, head to our analysis of NRF’s Retail Big Show 2024.

Strategic opportunity

With non-store and online sales expected to grow steadily, businesses should embrace EQ-Commerce and improve their digital platforms, offering seamless and personalised shopping experiences

Dartmouth men’s basketball side is first collegiate sports team to unionise

US – On 5 March 2024, the men’s basketball team at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire voted by 13 to 2 to unionise, setting a new precedent for collegiate sports.

The players are now represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 560, a union that advocates for many Dartmouth workers. Being members of SEIU means players can collectively negotiate with the private institution for improvements on healthcare and pay.

Other US student athletes have unsuccessfully attempted to unionise in the past, but what makes the Dartmouth case different is that a regional director from the National Labor Relations Board determined that college basketball players at private universities are employees like any others, and thus can unionise under the National Labor Rights Act (NLRA).

A representative from Dartmouth told The BBC that they will be requesting a review of the decision and released a statement declaring: ‘The students on the men’s basketball team are not in any way employed by Dartmouth.’

In our Gen Z Now and Next: From Vision to Contradiction report, we unpacked how, from decolonising curriculums to questioning workplace culture, Generation Z are unafraid to challenge the status quo.

Polo Ralph Lauren exclusively for Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, US

Strategic opportunity

Fully literate in workers’ rights, Gen Z will soon join the workforce in large numbers. How can your workplace ensure you are promoting transparency, support and open dialogue, meeting next-gen employees’ needs to attract and retain top talent?

Foresight Friday: Seyi Oduwole, intern

Photography by The Future Laboratory Photography by The Future Laboratory

Every Friday, The Future Laboratory team offer an end-of-week wrap-up of the topics, issues, ideas and virals we’re all talking about. This week, intern Seyi Oduwole shares her thoughts on Dune: Part Two, economy 101 with Gary Stevenson and Beyoncé’s Texas takeover.

: I have not recovered from the visually arresting marvel of Dune: Part Two yet. Interestingly, the body armour fashion trend worn by Florence Pugh on screen and Zendaya’s on the red carpet (courtesy of stylist Law Roach) also made it to the catwalks in New York and Paris Fashion Week. We forecast this rise of Safety Fits back in March 2023.

: With money on my mind and the constant bombardment of new finance-centric trends such as ‘doom spending’ and ‘loud budgeting’, I needed a sound voice to really tell me what’s going on with the economy. Enter Gary Stevenson with his new book, The Trading Game: A Confession, which is already a Sunday Times Best Seller. His recent interview with Novara Media was simply fascinating.

: In other news, Ssense’s high-fashion spelling bee with Gen Alpha models is the most precious thing ever, the internet has already turned Phoebe Philo’s second collection into memes and Beyoncé is sharing the cover of her upcoming country album Cowboy Carter with a horse: Chardonneigh. I have a feeling this will spawn a resurgence in Cowboy Couture, as seen on Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian recently.

Strategic opportunity

'As the Princess [of Wales] recoups at Adelaide Cottage, most of the [entirely speculative] Where’s Kate? takes are outlandishly funny. She’s recovering after donating a kidney to Charles in exchange for becoming queen. She’s nipped off to Miami for a subtle BBL. She’s moonlighting as an Oompa Loompa at the cursed Willy Wonka experience. She’s growing out her bangs. She’s actually Bansky

Columnist Raven Smith in Vogue

Stat: US parents stretch finances to support their adult children

Photography by Askar Abayev Photography by Askar Abayev

US – A recent survey reveals that nearly half of US parents are supporting their adult children financially, with an average monthly contribution of £1,086 ($1,384, €1,268) – twice the amount they invest in their retirement savings.

The survey of 1,000 US parents conducted by Savings.com highlighted the challenges faced by parents, especially as younger Americans have yet to feel the benefits of recent economic improvements such as increased employment and a fall in inflation. Notably, Gen Z, aged 18–27, receive the most support.

Most commonly, parents are assisting with groceries, rent and even leisure expenses. Despite an economy showing signs of recovery, the rising cost of living is straining parental finances, with 61% of adult children living at home not contributing to household expenses. This underlines the complexities of family financial dynamics amid an ongoing cost of living crisis, especially with regard to parents saving and planning for their retirement.

Strategic opportunity

As seen in Community Living Market, explore opportunities to develop housing solutions that accommodate multi-generational living arrangements, offering affordable options for families while easing the financial burden on parents

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