PPB July 2022

by Audrey Sellers Re t a i l Retail Therapy Retailers of all kinds can turn to promotional products to build brand awareness, attract new customers and make more money. The U.S. is home to about 4million registered retail establishments that run the gamut frombrick-and-mortar shops to online retailers that sell both staple and discretionary merchandise. Altogether, the retail industry contributes about $3.9 trillion to the annual GDP, according to the National Retail Federation, with consumer spending accounting for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Whether shoppers are browsing in person or clicking a button to buy, they’ve largely returned to their pre-pandemic spending habits. AMcKinsey report reveals that nearly half of U.S. consumers (44%) feel optimistic and plan to spendmore this year than last. In 2021, U.S. retail sales topped $6.6 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce—the highest retail sales ever recorded in a calendar year. While overall sales grew over $1 trillion from2020, consumers are concerned as just about everything seems to be getting pricier. A&MConsumer and Retail Group surveyed consumers this spring and found that 49% say their desired products and services have become too costly to buy, and 30% say that what they want to buy isn’t even readily available. Consumers are also shelling out more at the pump, whichmay limit their disposable income. InMay 2021, fuel cost an average of just under $3 a gallon, according to AAA. InMay 2022, gas prices hit an all-time high, averaging $4.37 for a gallon of regular fuel. However, despite this strain on consumers’ budgets, spending remains robust. OneMcKinsey study shows that U.S. consumers spent 18%more inMarch 2022 than they did inMarch 2020, and 12%more than they were projected to spend based on the prepandemic trajectory. Retailers can keep up with consumers and win their loyalty with promotional products. Businesses can also use branded apparel and merchandise to turn employees into brand ambassadors, helping expand visibility for their retail shop or website. 54 | JULY 2022 | GROW