NRF Foundation Releases Ninth Annual Retailers Report

WASHINGTON -- According to a recent research report released by the National Retail Federation's research and education arm -- the NRF Foundation -- and the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm, KPMG LLP, retailers in 2011 will be intent on actively growing their businesses. In addition, retailers will focus on improving customer insight capabilities and will continue to stabilize operating costs and focus on financial discipline.

“It’s quite obvious retailers are anxious to put the recession behind them and build upon their customer service initiatives, enhance their mobile platforms and even grow their footprint,” Katherine Mance, executive director, NRF Foundation said in a released statement. “As we move forward in 2011, retailers will strive to keep costs low, but will also continue to focus on providing positive and unique shopping experiences for their customers. This year’s report paints an encouraging picture of the coming year for both retailers and consumers.”

High on the agenda for the 318 retail executives surveyed for the ninth annual Retail Horizons: Benchmarks for 2010, Forecasts for 2011 report, was the topic of expansion. According to the report, 41 percent said that their companies intend to increase domestic store expansions this year, up from 25 percent in 2010; 25 percent will expand overseas, up from 21 percent in 2010.

Mark Larson, partner in charge of KPMG’s retail group, said in the release that “these findings dramatically demonstrate that retail expansion is back on the agenda.”

The report also reveals an overall consensus from the executives that the worst is behind them. Other figures show that 58 percent of retailers surveyed report that cost reduction/cost containment will remain a companywide strategic initiative, down from 81 percent in 2010, according to the report.

Mobile e-commerce and m-commerce also rated high on the survey findings with 69 percent identifying with this strategic initiative, up from 28 percent a year ago.

“After several years of belt tightening, retailers are also ready to begin experimenting again with new brick and mortar concepts, hoping to appeal to shoppers interested in buying discretionary items once again,” said Larson. “They will, however, move ahead with cost discipline in mind.”

Other survey highlights from the report include:

-- With significant changes in customer shopping behaviors, three-quarters (74 percent) of retailers in 2011 will increase their consumer insight and data gathering initiatives (up from 65 percent in 2010).

-- While 56 percent of retailers surveyed in 2010 said customer service would be a top priority; fully three-quarters (75 percent) said it would be in 2011.

-- The number of retailers who report using Twitter jumped from 61 percent in 2009 to 79 percent in 2010, with an additional 18 percent planning on using the social networking site for their e-commerce program during the next 18 months.

-- In reviewing customer insight initiatives, 78 percent of the execs ranked customer loyalty programs first, up from 65 percent a year ago.

-- 80 percent of retailers surveyed said leadership development will be a top priority in 2011, up from 69 percent in 2010.

-- Among supply chain initiatives, greater focus will be made for optimizing the distribution network, increasing from 38 percent in 2010 to 52 percent in 2011, and for cross-docking, up from 17 percent to 24 percent.

The ninth annual Retail Horizons: Benchmarks for 2010, Forecasts for 2011 report released by the NRF Foundation and KPMG LLP, examines benchmarks for the retail industry, reports retailers’ key business priorities and plans, and tracks established and emerging retail trends. For more information click here.

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