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The rise of boomers, Hispanics, and millennials

Economic indicators do not paint a rosy picture for retailers: budget deficits are mounting, unemployment remains high, and the average consumer’s balance sheet—while improving—remains shaky, for it has taken more than five years to recover the $16 trillion in net worth US consumers lost from peak to trough in the recent recession. Additionally, rising social costs related to health care, taxes, higher education, and other areas will continue to stress disposable income. Indeed, most industry forecasts suggest that US retail growth over the next five years will average 3 to 4 percent annually, well below the 5 to 7 percent yearly growth seen in the decade prior to the recession.2

We believe that these projections are reasonable and that this slower growth rate is likely to extend well beyond the five-year time horizon, becoming the “new normal” (Exhibit 2). Within a tepid overall market, however, there will be several pockets of strong growth. Three customer segments that will make disproportionate contributions to spending growth, for example, must fit squarely into retailers’ customer-driven strategies. Each is unique and will require retailers to adapt their strategies to target the segments individually.

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