Consumer & Retail: 2020 Predictions Vs Reality

    Kerry Consulting

    A look back at 2019

    Several trends defined the hiring and talent landscape within Singapore’s consumer and retail sectors in 2019.

    It was common to see employers pursuing a digital marketing agenda and integrating this within the organisation. This initiative, created a variety of new positions in the first half of 2019, although there was an emphasis on replacement staff for the rest of the year.

    Some of the more active hirers over the course of 2019 included retail travel firms. In general, retail brands ramped up their acquisition of top commercial talent, especially organisations in beauty and alcohol. Last year also saw a big focus on multi/omni-channel sales and sales excellence roles. New roles focused on driving retail performance and enhancing customer experience.

    2020 Reality for Consumer & Retail

    In 2020, it all changed. It will come as little surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic is predicted to cause a global decline in retail sales. A decline of 9.6% – put that in monetary value – $2.1 trillion, an almost unimaginable sum (source: Forrester). Further, predictions suggest it will take 4 years for retailers to recover beyond pre-pandemic levels.

    The picture is not so simple though. The impact is by no means equally distributed across retail sectors, nor geographically. This is due to natural regional differences, but also the different stages countries are at with the pandemic.

    Whilst momentum was strong for the travel and tourism industry in 2019, it has been near-decimated by coronavirus. Governments around the world are trying to make travel possible where safe and supporting companies financially, but the limitations and remaining bleak outlook for travel is tough to deny.

    Differently, those working in the “essential” retail categories are reporting rises in sales. As spending on digital platforms grows and e-commerce is increasingly prominent, more active hiring is expected across marketplaces to pick up the decline from traditional retail.

    More broadly across the consumer landscape, many companies are adopting a cautious stance on recruitment. In some instances, they have been increasing their volume of contract hires and consolidating business functions.

    Start-ups might still buck this trend across the year – as many, more financially supported ventures, are not showing signs of reducing their efforts to source talent or create new positions.

    Hiring outlook for Consumer & Retail roles in Singapore

    At the moment, the skills in greatest demand include:

    • Sales and business development with a focus on e-commerce management, especially with an entrepreneurial mind set and track record in the online space
    • Specialised marketing functions in digital, as well as in market research
    • Commercial leaders who are agile and entrepreneurial in response to the need to respond to evolving customer demands

    At the same time, luxury brands want to further enhance the experience they give their wealthy clients, requiring new recruits to help them develop those closer relationships. Among the roles still in demand in 2020 are:

    • General management
    • E-commerce
    • Digital marketing

    As countries see improvement, and the (re)surgence of Covid-19 cases, legislation from the respective governments remain nimble. Coupled with fluctuating public sentiment around financial security as well as shopping safety, there remains an unpredictable dynamic for much of the retail sector.


    Explore our 2020 Predictions vs Reality mini-series from the beginning:

    Overview: 2020 Predictions vs Reality
    Sales & Marketing: 2020 Predictions vs Reality