5 Retail Trends: ICSC NECDM 2019

Top Retail Trends 2019: ICSC Edition

As the 2019 ICSC New England Conference & Deal Making quickly approaches, we’re gearing up for a fun and insightful conference. With retail being the backbone of everything we do here at Phase Zero Design, the excitement around new retailers, new developments and deals getting made is something we look forward to every year.

The retail industry has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade and it will continue to evolve drastically within the years to come. The way consumers are shopping today is completely different than they once did, a common thread we continue to see at ICSC and retail-focused conferences; retailers must adapt to new consumer attitudes and preferences.

Here are the top 5 retail trends we think we’ll see at ICSC New England 2019:

1: Experiential Retail (alternate use)

Not long ago, shopping centers and malls were places to do just that—shop. Now, people are flocking to these establishments with higher expectations. With experiential retail on the rise, shopping centers become hubs for entertainment and social opportunities. With vacant retail spaces on the rise, alternate use establishments are now commonly taking their place.

With the legalization of marijuana across several New England states, cannabis dispensaries are just one of these alternate use retail spaces. Other alternate use spaces include entertainment hot spots like trampoline parks, mini golf courses and escape rooms. Shopping centers and malls have also become a hub for restaurants. With multiple variations of dining, fast-food, fast-casual and sit-down, dining is quickly becoming the main focus of time spent at malls with shopping becoming secondary. Millennials and Gen-Zers value experiences- and these alternate use retail spaces are offering them while helping the retail market boom.

2: All About Convenience

It’s no secret that technology has taken over the world. Retailers are adapting to the busy, crazy lives of their consumers and customers are looking to shop at brands that help make their lives easier and more streamlined. Omni-channel retail isn’t new for retail brands, but more brands are shifting to ensure they provide that convenience factor for their customers. Two-day shipping, order online and in-store pick up have also been extremely popular and brands will continue to innovate around getting product to their customers faster. 

3: Digital to Brick-and-Mortar

Omni-channel retail approaches are becoming more common; but in order to implement this approach, you need more than one method of selling your product. We’ve seen several online stores pop-up for retailers that once relied solely on brick-and-mortar storefronts, and vice versa. Digitally native brands are entering the brick-and-mortar landscape to up their game. Brands like Fabletics, Warby Parker and Casper have expanded substantially in the last five years by making strategic strides in open brick-and-mortar store fronts and it has been paying off. Implementing an omni-channel approach and building up your brand in a new market, whether that be online or in-store, makes for a more versatile and convenient customer experience.

4: Sustainability

Over the last five years, sustainability efforts have been ramped up immensely, and for good reason. With climate change and pollution being just two of the dire issues in today’s political environment, retailers have made efforts to make a real difference. “Go Green” initiatives are everywhere and brands are bringing sustainability into their brand identity. We believe we’ll see a lot more sustainable, environmentally-conscious approaches being brought into the retail scene.

5.Brand Loyalty

Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty- The new brand experience is all about loyalty. Loyalty programs and popping up everywhere: even McDonalds has one. Store charge cards used to take precedence, but many big retailers like Macy’s, J. Crew, and Kohl’s have strayed from this excluding approach and have implemented free loyalty programs in addition to their store cards. This allows for their most valued customers to get great deals without having to go into debt. To keep their loyalty programs relevant, and keep their best customers loyal to them, retailers are constantly updating these loyalty programs. With better benefits come more happy customers.


The world changes every day, consumers’ mindsets change often, and retailers have the opportunity to follow along with this change in order to have greater success in their market. With technology, timely eco-friendly efforts, and new opportunities emerging for retail spaces, the chance for retailers to grow, expand and increase profits have never been greater. Phase Zero Design is excited to attend ICSC New England Conference & Deal Making in a few weeks, and we hope to see some of these retail trends being implemented while we are there! Stop by booth 311 to meet some of our retail team members.