Americans, made optimistic by a strong economy, elevated holiday sales growth to a six-year high this year.
Retail sales rose 5.1% between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, from a year ago, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks spending online and in stores across all payment types, including those who paid by cash or check.
Total sales topped $850 billion this year, Mastercard said.
According to USA Today, the stores of the future are already here as retailers up their technology games.
In many retail outlets, robots are roaming the aisles to assist customers.
Some stores have windows that allow shoppers to tap and shop while the store is closed.
A large number of retailers ramped up the tech this holiday season, offering mobile checkout and apps that pinpoint the exact spot to find the toy a customer was seeking.
The newspaper reported that the bells and whistles are more than a seasonal perk.
From holograms that greet shoppers at the door, to a robot that alerts workers when products are running low, technology has become a prime battleground in the fierce fight to woo shoppers year round.
“How do you created a shopping experience in a store that Amazon created as a precedent online?” Justice Santa Cruz, senior vice president of retail and enterprise at Satisfi Labs, a software technological company, asked. “Now every consumer expects a certain type of ease when they’re shopping, so I think retailers are implementing new technology to be able to remove any and all sort of friction from the shopping experience.”
Home Depot customers can type an item into the store app and call up a map that leads them to where they can find the light fixture or cabinet they need.
Shoppers from some stores and malls can also get the information they need from a robot named “Pepper.” And the Mall of America has enlisted a hologram named Ellie the Elf as a virtual greeter.
But Amazon will continue to be a game changer. The company can lay claim to having done more in the past two decades to expand e-commerce – and by extension disrupt physical retail — than any other company.
But in addition to its great success in home delivery of purchased goods, Amazon is considering opening as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores by the end of 2021.
There may be no end to shopping innovations. Here’s an idea, if you dream about purchasing an item, you may find it delivered to your doorstep when you wake up.