U.S. retailing is a highly competitive, dynamic industry. Consumers have a large number of retailers that they can choose to patronize conveniently. Due to the availability of information on the Internet, consumers are becoming more sophisticated shoppers – more knowledgeable about retailers and the merchandise they offer. Diversity in consumer needs is increasing across the population and specific shopping situations and, given the number of alternatives, consumers are selectively patronizing retailers that satisfy their specific needs.
In this environment, retailers are employing the classic competitive strategies of low cost or differentiation. Retailers are either developing innovative approaches for lowering their costs and providing lower prices or tailoring their offering to better satisfy the needs of specific market segments.
In this chapter, we first outline the general trends in the U.S. retail industry and then explore specific trends in the various retail sectors – food, general merchandise and non-store retailing. The chapter concludes with a view into the future.