Happy New Year and welcome back!

Stepping into a new decade means a chance to take stock, embrace new trends, reboot and make a fresh start for a better, brighter future.

New technology will offer us a more seamless experience in 2020, but consumer expectations mean that retailers can’t rest on their laurels. Whether it comes to online shopping, shorter shipping windows or more cohesive omnichannel offerings, e-commerce still has plenty of growth opportunities.

Shopping in store — particularly for fresh food — will still drive the vast majority of grocery sales, but e-commerce is clearly on the rise. Online shopping at Countdown saw 38% growth in the July to September 2019 quarter, and it now makes up about 8.5% of their total sales.

Alternative proteins and vegetarian NPD have seen massive growth and these will continue to flourish, along with more products featuring hemp and ‘good for you’ ingredients.

New Zealand is blessed with the resources to be a world leader in the production of premium, safe and ethical food, but our long term strategies will need to include more support for our hard-working farmers, embrace regenerative agriculture to maintain soil health, and preserve our precious local water supply. Are there lessons to be learned from the devastating bushfires that have ravaged Australia’s parched landscapes over the last few months?

Meanwhile in the USA, interesting trends are emerging in the $4 trillion wellness industry with its relatively new $17 billion legal cannabis sector. At its centre is CBD oil, which doesn’t offer a ‘high’, but is believed to be a radical cure for many ailments with massive, untapped potential. To some it’s snake oil, but CBD’s popularity is growing in the USA and analysts estimate that CBD will be a $20 billion industry within the next two years.

Be alert to changing patterns

Recent Paymark figures point to a strong finish to 2019 for many merchants in New Zealand, but generally 2019 was a year of modest growth and mixed fortunes.

Spending through the Paymark network reached a new monthly high of $6,084 million in December 2019. The busy end of the year brought the underlying growth rate for the 12 months up to 3.7%. Spending through Paymark was $62,647 million in 2019.

Paymark stated: “Looking across the network, the spending momentum and the ability of a large group of merchants to generate strong growth are reasons to be positive for 2020, but the annual spending deceleration and generally mixed experiences of 2019 suggests merchants need to be very alert to changing patterns during the year and the actions of their competitors.”

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