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?

The toolkit was launched on 30 September 2014 at the RILA Retail Sustainability Conference and is available to download for free here.


Download the toolkit


A two-minute video following the trajectory of retail from its earliest beginnings in open air markets to the omnipresence made possible through major technological advances is availale to view at the top of this page.



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.



Available downloads:

Connect with us

Receive our newsletter