The challenge

The world is changing rapidly in ways that will have profound implications for the retail sector in the US and beyond over the next 15 years. Some of these changes we can foresee with a high degree of likelihood, such as resource scarcity, rising global population and increasing access to information. Other changes are less certain. What will the US energy mix be in 15 years, for example? How will the increase in data and transparency impact the role of brands? Will we need physical stores in the future?

While we can’t predict the future, we know it will be dramatically different from today. How can retailers prepare for an increasingly complex and uncertain operating environment?


What we are doing

Retail Horizons  – led by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and Forum for the Future, and sponsored by Target and Unilever – examines the future of retail in the US.

Through months of deep research and after prioritizing key trends, we have developed four futures scenarios - each of which depict some of the potential challenges and opportunities ahead for the retail industry -  and created a toolkit that companies can use to future-proof current strategies, to develop new strategies, to stimulate innovation, and to build new business models.

The scenarios cover a wide range of issues and raise important discussion topics for retail, such as:

  • How will technology continue to change the retail industry, including how people buy goods and services?
  • What sorts of impacts might differing energy prices have on retail supply chains?
  • What are the implications of resource shortages and climate change?
  • How could geopolitical changes impact global trade and supply chains?
  • What will the relationship be like between businesses and consumers?

All of this will be available online after 1 October 2014, when we will launch the full toolkit at the RILA Retail Sustainability Conference from September 30th to October 2nd.



Retail Horizons is a call for a sustainable retail industry. Keep checking back to this page to see the scenarios, download the toolkit and hear more about the impact that Retail Horizons is having on retail in the US and beyond.