Skip to main content

Retail Horizons: scenarios

by Futures Centre, Oct 2
3 minutes read
The retail industry is one of the most important sectors of the economy. With annual sales of more than $4.5 trillion in the U.S. alone, retail is a major engine of economic growth and employment.
Accounting for roughly a third of GDP, retail activity is often used as a barometer for the health of the economy as a whole. Retail is also incredibly diverse, spanning a range from the mom and pop corner store to some of the largest companies in the world. Woven deeply into the fabric of our entire economy and local communities, retail has the power to create massive benefit to society.

Retail Horizons is a program to support the industry’s drive to sustainability. This project – led by Retail Industry Leaders Association and Forum for the Future, and sponsored by Target and Unilever – is designed to help retailers take action to safeguard their future, protect our environment, and improve the lives of their customers, workers, and suppliers.

The future is likely to be dramatically different from today, in ways that we cannot predict. To explore some of the possibilities, we have created four scenarios; Rust Belt Renewal, Double or Nothing, Networked Nation and Predictive Planet, each of which depicts some of the potential challenges and opportunities ahead for the retail industry.

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 obtain and exchange 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?

Download the Retail Horizons

Scenarios and why we use them

Although we cannot predict how the world will change over the next 25 years, we can be confident that it will be very different from today. Future scenarios are a powerful tool to help us imagine different possible future worlds and to better understand how key trends are shaping our world today. They are not predictions or depictions of desirable futures that we wish to promote, and they do not represent our vision of a sustainable future; rather, they aim to challenge, inspire and excite, so that we feel motivated to plan for a better, more sustainable future.

Interested in learning more?

Learn how to apply futures for systems change and become a system change agent
Visit the School of System Change


by Futures Centre Spotted 1994 signals

Have you spotted a signal of change?

Register to receive the latest from the Futures Centre.
Sign up

  • 0
  • Share

Join discussion

Related signals

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work, please see our 'Cookies page'.