Whether it’s increasing website traffic, managing social media marketing, or handling logistics, it’s clear that retail businesses today have a lot to deal with. All this needs to be managed well to ensure the smooth running of their company operations and grow their business.

While there are smaller issues retailers can afford to put on the back burner, others may have a bigger impact on business and require urgent attention. So then, what are the main challenges facing retail today?

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Top retail industry challenges

According to recent research, the rising cost of inflation tops the list of retail industry challenges brands face. More than half (54%) of small businesses say it’s an issue they are currently facing in 2023. This is a 10 percentage point increase from 2022, when 44% of small business owners listed it as a problem. In fact, nearly half (49%) of all businesses surveyed say they have had to take out loans over the past year to cover rising business costs brought on by inflation. 

The second- and third-biggest retail challenges are existing supply chain issues and increasing interest rates, both of which are faced by 23% of small businesses. 

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Fourth on the list of the top retail challenges is revenue, with one-fifth of all small businesses saying it’s a problem for them this year. This is certainly no surprise, considering the widespread problem rising inflation is creating for brands. Rounding out the five biggest challenges is affording employee benefits or healthcare, named by 13% of small businesses as an existing issue.

Employee retention and getting access to credit or loans also rank among the top challenges in the retail industry. 12% of retailers say these are issues they are currently tackling. The latter relates to rising interest rates, which more than three-quarters (76%) of small businesses say is making it hard to raise capital. 

The eighth- and ninth-largest retail industry challenges are employees’ well-being and/or morale and a lack of applicants to fill job openings, which just under one out of every 10 (9%) brands say they face.

Being able to care for family while attending to daily business operations is also an issue for small businesses—albeit to a lesser extent. Two percent of companies say it’s a challenge they have.

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