2017 Retail Trends + 2018 Predictions

Despite the proliferation of online shopping and downsizing of malls around the country, retail still had a strong year in the Twin Cities. The retail world continues to adjust to the ever-fickle needs of consumers, and several major trends pervaded throughout the year that promise to continue into 2018. 

Trend: Mixed-Use Developments

As millennials seek living spaces that offer walkability and amenities, and retailers look for new ways to reach shoppers, a trend toward mixed-use developments has emerged. These developments combine residential and retail space with other types of real estate, such as offices, restaurants, grocery stores, gyms, and salon-spas—making them mini communities as well as shopping and dining destinations.

The most recent local example is The Landing, a mixed-use development that opened last year with a boutique luxury hotel (Hotel Landing), high-end condos (which quickly sold out), 14,000 square feet of retail space, a restaurant, and the Nordic-themed Läka Spa. These developments, increasingly found in suburban centers, takes a page from urban complexes, such as LPM Apartments in Minneapolis ‘Loring Park, which houses a brewery and fair-trade gift shop on its main level. 

Meanwhile, more traditional shopping centers such as Edina’s Galleria and the Mall of America have begun to incorporate more experiential, lifestyle-oriented offerings. The Mall of America’s continued success in an age in which shopping malls are dying has been credited to its abundance of immersive experiences, such as Nickelodeon Universe, The Lego Store, and new virtual-reality arcade, Smaaash, and at the end of 2015, the megamall completed its $325 million north wing project, a 747,000-square-foot expansion that added a JW Marriott hotel, an office tower, and space for retail and restaurants. (An additional $500 million expansion that would add 580,000 square feet of retail, a 180-room hotel, 120 residential units, an office building, and more parking, is currently on hold.) And then there’s The Dayton’s Project, a mixed-use development set to open on Nicollet Mall in the old Dayton’s space in mid-2019 with retail and office space plus a food hall developed by celeb chef, Andrew Zimmern. 

2018 predictions: More area malls will announce plans to introduce more concepts borrowing from mixed-use developments, and we’ll find out what retailers are going into the Mall of America’s new wing and The Dayton’s Project.

Trend: Pop-up Shops

2017 was the year of pop-up shops and makers markets—and based on their continue popularity, it seems we have yet to hit the peak of pop-ups. Over the holidays, local shops Upstate MN, Idun, and BlackBlue opened satellite locations in Minneapolis, and Faribault Woolen Mill, RAAS Local Market, electric bike store Excelr8, and Ribnick Luxury Outerwear opened temporary stores at the Mall of America and Galleria. In many cases, pop-ups are simply a chance for brands to get exposure to new audiences. In others, such as Mona Williams at Mall of America and Roe Wolfe at Galleria—which first opened temporary locations before landing in permanent sites—temporary shops give retailers a gauge of the appetite for a permanent store.

2018 predictions: Even more pop-ups—plus some permanent locations to come out of temporary stores.

Trend: Makers Markets

Throughout the year, breweries, distilleries, farmers markets, and other Twin Cities spaces played host to markets featuring modern goods by local makers and brands. Makers markets provide a homegrown, community-oriented alternative to the mall, with the added bonus of craft beer and cocktails. The trend rose to a crescendo during the holiday shopping season, with no fewer than 75 markets taking place between Black Friday and Christmas. One big market hosted by Tattersall Distilling reportedly brought in 5,550 shoppers, while the Northern Grade market brought in some newness by partnering with the European-style, open-air Holidazzle market in Loring Park over the holidays. Malls are even taking a page from the maker market craze—the Mall of America’s RAAS Local Market opened over the holidays, running through the Super Bowl, with goods from a mix of top Minnesota brands. Meanwhile, L.A.’s Unique Markets, a huge, trade show-like pop-up market featuring local makers, came to Minneapolis for the first time. West Elm celebrated local makers with its West Elm Local division, as did Herberger’s department stores with its Close to Home department

2018 prediction: Instead of jumping the shark, the makers market becomes retail’s new normal.

Trend: Brand Collaborations

In 2017, collaborations between brands large and small were on the rise. Earlier this year, local artists Kate Worum released a series of framed prints through CB2 and Framebridge, and Ashley Mary designed tech accessories for Target and yoga mats for Manduka. Senn & Sons also debuted a new line of planners for Blue Sky Planners exclusively at Target. Most recently, Minneapolis brand Solid Manufacturing Co. announced a partnership with national home retailer West Elm, and North Loop store Askov Finlayson has partnered with Target on a limited-edition line of “North”-themed clothing, accessories, and snow tubes debuting on January 14. Minnesota heritage brands Duluth Pack and Minnetonka Moccasin collaborated on a capsule collection of footwear and bags, and Minneapolis brands Blu Dot and Handsome Cycles collaborated on a stylish new bike. On a smaller level, many local makers have also opted to create special collections for Twin Cities stores, such as Hackwith Design House and Winsome Goods, which have created exclusive products for Gray Home + Lifestyle and Hazel & Rose, respectively.

2018 prediction: Even more collaborations.

Trend: Menswear by Design

In the age of e-commerce, retailers and brands are exploring new ways to entice customers to shop in person. Two of the newest menswear concepts to come to Minnesota have their roots in e-commerce: men’s clothing brand Bonobos and made-to-measure suiting brand Indochino. A decade ago, it was all but impossible to find a quality suit for under $500 off the rack—which has changed with the recent opening of Indochino at the Mall of America, which offers most of its suits for $399. In early 2017, Bonobos, the online menswear brand known for its tailored cuts and slightly preppy vibe, opened its first local “Guideshop” in a renovated warehouse in the North Loop to combined the benefits of brick-and-mortar shopping with the convenience of buying online. But despite these new out-of-town players, local menswear retailers—such as MartinPatrick3, Heimie’s Haberdashery, Hubert White, and Atmosfere—only continued to thrive, thanks to their dedication to customer service and customization options.

2018 predictions: Women’s retailers attempt to take a page from menswear’s move toward made-to-measure and customization by offering more personalized, easeful service.