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Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Mass Merchandisers US market including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

Unlike most retailers, mass merchandisers are currently benefiting from value-seeking shoppers who are prioritizing essential items, affordability and convenience. Some consumers are even shopping mass retailers more frequently and have more loyalty to them; consequently, sales at mass retailers will continue to grow. Their low-price guarantee and essential products get consumers in the door, but experiences (both in-store and online), such as external partnerships and online personal shopping services, will keep shoppers frequenting mass retailers.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Alexis DeSalva, a leading analyst in the Retail sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Mass merchandisers are one of the few retailers benefiting from the changes caused by the pandemic and recession, similar to the 2008 financial crisis. Consumers who are prioritizing essentials and value – both affordability and convenience – are gravitating to mass retailers as their primary shopping destination, resulting in positive sales growth expected to continue over the next five years. Moving forward, mass retailers should continue focusing on improving online shopping capabilities, expanding store brands to focus on sustainable and inclusive products and using external partnerships and experiences to keep shoppers returning for more than the essentials.
Alexis DeSalva
Senior Analyst – Retail and eCommerce

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Mass merchandisers’ sales will benefit from value-focused shoppers
      • Figure 1: Total US revenues and forecast of mass merchandisers, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Impact of COVID-19 on mass merchandisers
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on mass merchandisers, December 2020
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Use partnerships to become a destination beyond the essentials
    • Improve online convenience through social commerce and personal services
    • Use technology to provide a clean shopping experience
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • High unemployment and low confidence will keep value-conscious consumers shopping at mass retailers
    • Partnerships, sustainability and technology will fuel mass retailers’ sales growth
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • Value-focused shopping will accelerate growth at mass merchandisers
      • Figure 3: Total US revenues and forecast of mass merchandisers, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 4: Total US revenues and forecast of mass merchandisers, by segment, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Macroeconomic data
    • High unemployment and low confidence will push more consumers to mass retailers
    • A focus on essentials will continue to drive traffic at mass retailers
    • Impact of COVID-19 on mass merchandisers
      • Figure 5: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on mass merchandisers, December 2020
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Learnings from the last recession
  5. Market Factors

    • Recession will elicit more value-seeking behavior
      • Figure 6: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-October 2020
    • Lifestyle and ethnicity influences where consumers shop
      • Figure 7: Number of households, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2013-23
      • Figure 8: Living arrangements of adults aged 18 or older, 2008 and 2018
    • Tech-driven consumers seek a seamless shopping experience
  6. Market Opportunities

    • Embrace secondhand and sustainable shopping
    • Explore external partnerships that combine consumers’ interests
      • Figure 9: Ulta and Target partnership announcement, November 2020
    • Evolve online offerings to improve the online experience
    • Use technology to provide safer, cleaner shopping
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Target and Ulta team up to tackle the beauty market
    • Walmart’s new loyalty program goes toe-to-toe with Prime
      • Figure 10: Walmart + commercial, September 2020
    • Store brands get a facelift
      • Figure 11: Target good & gather groceries, September 2020
      • Figure 12: Walmart free assembly apparel, December 2020
    • Mass retailers meet holiday shoppers where they are
    • Walmart delivers Christmas to shoppers, including trees
    • Meijer rewards those who use curbside pickup
    • Retailers get social with shoppers
      • Figure 13: Target shopping guide: gifts for the fam, December 2020
      • Figure 14: Walmart and Tastemade “struggle meals” holiday video, November 2020
  8. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Majority of consumers are shopping Target and Walmart
    • Shoppers come for the prices, stay for the convenience and variety
    • The pandemic has shifted shopping habits and preferences
  9. Consumer Trends Drivers and Mass Merchandisers

    • Value
    • Technology
    • Wellbeing
    • Surroundings
  10. Retailers Shopped and Shopping Method

    • Walmart and Target have widespread consumer appeal
      • Figure 15: Retailers shopped, October 2020
    • Target is the mass merchant of choice for value-seeking higher-income shoppers
      • Figure 16: Retailers shopped – By HHI, October 2020
    • Majority of parents are shopping multiple mass merchandisers
      • Figure 17: Retailers shopped – By parental status, October 2020
    • Gen Z still likes to shop in stores
      • Figure 18: Retailers shopped and shopping method – By generation, October 2020
  11. Items Purchased

    • Essentials and beauty are top purchases, regardless of brand
      • Figure 19: Items purchased – Store brands versus name brands, October 2020
    • Mass merchandisers are a beauty destination for most women
      • Figure 20: Items purchased – Store brand versus name brand (BPC) – By gender, October 2020
    • Parents are shifting grocery purchases to mass retailers
      • Figure 21: Target recipe for parents and kids, October 2020
      • Figure 22: Items purchased – Store brand versus name brand (groceries) – By parental status, October 2020
  12. Reasons for Shopping Mass Merchandisers

    • Value is a primary reason for shopping mass
    • What’s happening
      • Figure 23: Reasons for shopping mass merchandisers, October 2020
    • What it means
    • What to do
    • Men’s trust motivates them to shop
      • Figure 24: Target Style: how to play dress up, November 2020
    • Black consumers shop for the whole family
      • Figure 25: Reasons for shopping mass merchandisers – By gender and ethnicity, October 2020
  13. Perceptions of Mass Merchandisers

    • Target vs Walmart
      • Figure 26: Perceptions of mass merchandisers – Target versus Walmart, October 2020
    • Kmart and Walmart need reliability
      • Figure 27: Correspondence analysis – Symmetrical map – Perceptions of mass merchandise, October 2020
    • Social consciousness needs improvements
      • Figure 28: Target Black-owned businesses post, September 2020
      • Figure 29: Walmart taking action against racism, June 2020
    • Majority don’t think it’s easy to shop online at mass merchandisers
      • Figure 30: Select perceptions of mass merchandisers, October 2020
    • Young women love Target’s affordable trends
      • Figure 31: Target designer dress collection, June 2020
    • Black consumers appreciate Walmart, while Hispanic consumers appreciate Target
      • Figure 32: Perceptions of Walmart – By race, October 2020
      • Figure 33: Perceptions of Target – By Hispanic origin, October 2020
  14. Changes because of COVID-19

    • One third of shoppers are primarily shopping at mass retailers
      • Figure 34: Changes because of COVID-19, October 2020
    • Mass merchandisers have gained more male shoppers
      • Figure 35: Changes because of COVID-19 – By gender, October 2020
  15. Desired Improvements

    • Free delivery will have the most impact on shopping
      • Figure 36: Desired improvements, October 2020
    • Cleanliness is currency for many shoppers
      • Figure 37: Desired improvements – Clean-shopping – Select demographics, October 2020
      • Figure 38: Walmart touch-free checkout video, April 2020
    • Social commerce appeals to tech-driven and convenience-driven shoppers
      • Figure 39: Desired improvements – Shopping through social media – Select demographics, October 2020
    • Hispanic shoppers want both clean and alternative shopping options
      • Figure 40: Desired improvements – By Hispanic origin, October 2020
  16. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  17. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 41: Shopping method – in-store versus online, October 2020
      • Figure 42: Correspondence analysis – Symmetrical map – Perceptions of mass merchandise, October 2020

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