When asked about expected changes this year, 36% of the owners mentioned 'expand business' online presence', and 34% anticipate they will 'expand into new product lines or categories.' No surprise, of course, that retailers are optimistic, and thinking about growth and expansion. For retailers, it's not whether to grow; it's how! And that leads to one of The ROI's Strategic Retailing concepts : the Four (Only!) Ways Retailers Grow , recapped in this chart: There are just two major variables that affect a retailer's growth and expansion: Customers and Merchandise Mix Each of these two variables is further divided between what you have Now (e.g., 'Present Customer Profiles', Present Merchandise Mix), and what would be New or different types of customers or merchandise mix. And that means that there are, fundamentally, only four ways that your business can grow . It all depends on which combination of these variables you choose to pursue. Now, consider the findings from the NRF survey. Those retailers who expect to 'expand their online presence' would be growing by 'Market Development' (quadrant #3). Online shoppers are different from in-store shoppers, and/or are from different customer groups Those retailers who expect to 'expand into new product lines or categories' would be growing by 'Concept or Merchandise Development' (quadrant #2.) And in many instances, retailers who change and expand their merchandise mix actually end up in quadrant #4 – Diversification – because they are attracting different customers. Why does it matter? Well, Growth = Change = Stress. Even 'good change' involves added stress. All of your resources – financial capital and, especially, human capital – will be impacted. Knowing which way you intend to grow, or, when in the midst of a growth spurt, recognizing which variables are changing the most, gives you more opportunity to exercise leadership and apply controls. You are better able to avoid surprises, and to manage the challenges associated with making changes. Go here on The ROI site for more details about this. Meanwhile, keep that optimism!