Expert Predicts Sustainable Retail Trends for 2024 and Beyond

Shopaholics are constantly changing how they look at the products and services they spend their money on, and one thing that can massively affect whether they buy something is whether it’s sustainable or not. Figures from Deloitte show how important sustainability is to modern shoppers and consumers, with 58% valuing durability, 39% focussing on repairability, and another 37% consider how biodiverse the purchase will be.

The sands are shifting towards a more sustainable future in retail but what trends could we see emerge in the coming years? Vikki Makinson, head of marketing and communications at Oceans, the leading suppliers of sustainable toilet paper, has provided expert insight into the future trends of sustainable retail.

Eco-conscious consumerism 

The biggest surge in trends that 2024 and beyond will see is eco-conscious consumerism, as shoppers are already showing their concern and care for environmental issues through the products they’re purchasing. The statistics show that purchasing behaviours have shifted towards those that have been made more sustainably and retailers will need to respond in kind.

Adopting transparency with the supply chains used to create the products, as well as incorporating eco-friendly packaging and promoting products that have been sourced ethically will be some of the solutions that retailers use to drive sales.

Communicating these changes will play a huge role in this, as consumers are constantly educating themselves on which products and services are the most sustainable and the best practices in shopping sustainably. Labels and certifications will be popping up more on packaging to indicate they were produced sustainably.

The future of sustainability is… technology? 

Technology has filtered its way into many different facets of our lives and retail is likely to be another that sees significant technological advancement. And if there’s one that’ll revolutionise retail spaces it’ll be virtual reality (VR). It’s exploded within the realm of videogames with brands like Sony and Oculus creating and releasing headsets that can be used for a host of games, and the technology will offer a more immersive and interactive experience when shopping.

Whether it’s in-store or from the comfort of your own home, VR technology could be used to try out the products virtually before making the purchase. Clothing retailers is a perfect example of where it’d be hugely beneficial as you could have a look at how the clothes that peak your interest look on you before you buy them. It’d also reduce the queues that can occur in clothes shops with people waiting for the changing rooms. 

Not only does this enhance the shopping experience, but it can be used to show the lifecycle of the product and how it affects the environment. It can be impactful to shoppers and help make more informed decisions around the products they’re purchasing.

Creating a circular economy 

One of the key ideas within sustainable retail is recycling and repurposing products where possible, which is why circular economies are likely to become more of a talking point in the coming years. Brands will likely aim to offer products that create a closed-loop system where products are recycled or upcycled into new products. This results in reduced waste and less negative impact on the environment.

Consumer awareness will continue to increase and will mean that retailers will have to be more willing to embrace design principles that are centred around circular processes. This trend will more than likely grow to be even more encouraged by consumers and will result in more sales when adhered to.

Localism and community engagement 

Driving sustainability within consumer behaviour will require brands and retailers prioritising business on a smaller scale within communities. This will translate into a resurgence of localism and community engagement with many brands focusing efforts on sourcing materials from local manufacturers, as well as supporting and contributing to local community initiatives and causes.

Fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility can help to create strong connections with local businesses and those who inhabit the area operated in. This will subsequently extend beyond the products themselves and contribute to the experience of shopping as a whole.

A more sustainable and ethical future is the aim for retailers to meet the shifting values and expectations of consumers, so it’s likely that trends will evolve rapidly to the point where even the experts struggle to predict them. This is why it’s crucial to keep an eye on how consumers are shopping to get a solid grip on how they’re spending their money.