Gray and black outfit on a mannequin with a large silver necklace

3 Retail Trends Local Boutiques Should Be Tracking

While the news focuses on consumer belt-tightening and gas prices, there are a number of consumer behaviors taking shape that can be great news for local boutiques who can leverage them to their advantage.  This Fall, smart shop owners are paying attention to retail trends and building their business to attract and retain loyal customers.

Below, we outline the top three retail trends that boutique owners should keep in mind as they prepare for Fall shopping season.

Conscious Consumerism

More than ever, customers care about the environment, representation, sustainability, shopping local and handcrafted goods.  Today’s consumer may be buying less overall (to keep junk out of landfills, and money in their pockets), but is willing to spend on goods that fit in with their desire to do good.

This provides an especially good opportunity for locally-owned shops, as one of the tenets of conscious consumerism is shopping locally to reduce carbon footprint.  From a marketing perspective, boutique owners can further capitalize on this desire to purchase sustainable and ethical goods by promoting fair trade items, locally-sourced goods, and offerings from Black-, woman-, LGBTQ-, or disabled-owned businesses.

Plus it never hurts to remind folks that purchasing local supports a family in their own community, AND reduces the emissions and environmental impact of goods moving around the country on Amazon trucks.

Social Commerce

So many local boutiques in the NEAC Community have embraced the social commerce trend and we only expect to see this method of promoting and selling products grow!

Live streaming is driving social shopping. We love watching our retailers build a following with their Facebook live sales! And we’re seeing more TikTok sales as well.  Selling live on social platforms allows stores to build a social connection with their customer – and attract folks to shop in-store because they can get a sense of the team’s personality and what their shopping experience will be like.

If you aren’t already embracing social shopping, what are you waiting for?

woman shopping at her computer

Hybrid Shopping

While it is true that most shopping journeys begin online – customer sees a cute shirt on Instagram, then Googles it to see price and availability – we’re seeing a swing back to wanting to purchase items in a store, likely tied to the conscious consumerism we talked about earlier. Consumers want to shop local and may do their research online, but would prefer to come into the store if they know they can get what they are looking for.

That’s why online presence is key for local boutiques. In addition to social channels that are maintained and updated frequently, store websites should include a list of brands carried, frequently updated photos, and the ability to schedule a personal shopping appointment right on the site.

Loyalty & Shopping Experience

In the end, running a successful local retail business hasn’t changed that much. Loyalty and the customer experience still matter the most.  What has changed are the tools at shop owners’ disposal and the expectations of the customer. In today’s retail environment, the in-store shopping experience wins out almost every time, so long as boutique owners keep these trends in mind:

  • A focus on sustainability and ethics;
  • A willingness to connect with consumers where they hang out, both online and in real life; and
  • Some investment in keeping your channels open, updated, and driving traffic to their physical store.

Plan Your Show

NEAC’s membership represents more than 750 clothing, accessory, footwear and gift brands. The New England Apparel Show brings them all together over 30,000 square to provide a one-stop-shop for boutique owners. View our August 2022 show details here and pre-register as a buyer. We can’t wait to see you August 29-31 (this is a Monday – Wednesday show.)