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Shopping Trends from Around the World

International shopping trends are converging on Main Street and the results are rosy!

Trends around the world

From the Far East to the Far South to our Neighbors to the North, shopping trends around the world can serve as lessons to us here in the US. As Singaporean urban planners start to threaten their version of “Main Street” Australian are seeing a reemergence of specialty shops. And, at the same time Canadians find growing ecommerce in utility goods (think toilet paper) while “social shopping” continues as a pastime that could be the saving grace of small retailers.

Overall worldwide shopping trends are at a convergence of utility and specialty, forcing retailers to choose between having it all and having what shoppers want. What does this mean for specialty shops in America? Justification. Shoppers may want to buy their toilet paper online or in a big box store, but they are increasingly turning to small retailers for the personalization and service offered on niche products.

In Singapore: Decline of “Main Street”
In Singapore, where land is at a premium housing has always been built vertically. Traditionally, mom and pop shops like markets, coffee shops and home stores were housed in the first floor of these apartment buildings. Today, trends in apartment planning now place larger shopping areas with a chain supermarket and other larger chains at the center of groups of apartment buildings.

This change parallels the decline of Main Streets in the US where smaller mom and pop shops were pushed out in favor of big box stores. Here in the US, as Main Streets declined we saw a drop in small business as family owned stores shuttered and new mom and pop shops did not rise up in their place. All of this led to a loss of community that many are now trying to bring back.

With this in mind, one wonders if the trend to pull the small coffee shops and markets from the first floor of huge apartment buildings will also bring about a loss of community? And will urban planners realize this before it’s too late?

In Australia: Smaller Shops are In & Specialty Stores will Gain in Popularity
When SmartCompany predicted their 5 retail trends for Australia, two of the most surprising are that smaller shops are in and larger shops are out AND that specialty stores will gain in popularity as department stores decline. 

“We’ve already seen a shift here, with retail giants such as Target, Kmart and Priceline investing in smaller-format stores to provide more curated selections. Consumers don’t want to waste precious time wandering around enormous stores anymore. Instead, they want the ease and efficiency of smaller stores with specialized selections.”

As for specialty stores, SmartCompany explains that: “These niche retailers tend to provide better in-store experiences for their customers, with more knowledgeable staff, better prices, and more personalized service.”

One wonders, could the smart, mom and pop retailer in Australia capitalize on this trend to bring more business into their store?

In Canada: Social Shopping Continues even as Ecommerce Shopping Rises
Just as main small retailers worldwide have been struggling, Canadian small businesses have seen a decline in traffic with the gaining popularity of big box stores. However, as Millennials age into prime spending, a shopping shift is occurring.

According to PWC, online shopping is growing in popularity with 57% of those surveyed saying they buy products online weekly or monthly. Coupled with this trend is that social shopping remains as important as ever.

“The whole social part of shopping is really important. Sometimes …we go to the store together because it’s fun, and we end up buying something.” Carmen, Millennial Shopper.

How can Canadian retailers take advantage of this trend? By offering the individual attention – tailored products and services – to create a personalized shopping experience that customers expect and which will set them apart from their big box competition.

As shopping trends change throughout the world, and as more and more consumers are turning to ecommerce as part of their shopping journey, there is an equivalent trend in the shopper’s thirst for personalized service. For going into a store and finding exactly what they want without sifting through aisles and aisles of products. And that, is where specialty shop retailers will shine in the coming years. That is where they can set themselves up to set themselves apart.

How are you seeing shopping patterns shift on your own main street? What kind of personalized products or services are you offering that shoppers just can’t get enough of? Share your story in the comments section below.


Melrose International is an industry leader in wholesale home décor, giftware, and seasonal items. Providing outstanding products, service, design, and value since 1985!

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