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The 2023 year in review: An inside look at independent retail’s top products and trends

December 13, 2023 | Published by Faire

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Believe it or not, 2023 is already coming to a close. It’s been a whirlwind year full of exciting new products, serendipitous shopping experiences, and—if you’re anything like the rest of our community—a lot of candy (freeze-dried, specifically). 

What else defined the year in the world of independent retail? We pored over Faire’s 2023 search and purchase data to discover the products, values, and trends that came to life on our retailers’ shelves. (And if you’re curious about what shoppers will be seeking in 2024, don’t miss our Faire Forecast predictions.)

Drumroll, please…

  • In the US and Canada: Heatless curling sets
  • In the UK: Handmade soap
  • In France: Chamomile-, apple-, and vanilla-flavored artisanal organic beverages
  • In Germany: Non-alcoholic lemon aperitif

Other items that won’t stay on the shelves

In the US: Heatless curling sets and flavored lip balms 

Faire retailers in the US prioritized health, beauty, and personal care products in 2023. Heatless curling sets were top sellers this year, marking a shift toward styling tools and products that are gentler on hair. Flavored lip balms were also among buyers’ favorite products for the second year in a row on Faire, though different flavors reigned supreme. Mint, pomegranate-peach, coconut, and pink grapefruit lip balms topped the list. 

In the UK: Handmade soaps and mindfulness journals

Personal care has also been top of mind for retailers in Faire’s UK community this year. Handmade soaps and lip balms flavored like a certain Scottish fizzy drink were both among the top sellers on Faire in the United Kingdom. Journals and cards promoting mindfulness and well-being were also popular. 

In Canada: Heatless curling sets and satin pillowcases

Canadian retailers were all about comfort and beauty in 2023, so hair-styling tools and satin pillowcases were a big trend on Faire. Heatless curling sets were top sellers in Canada as well as the US this year, solidifying this hair-styling trend across North America. Satin pillowcases in dreamy colors like ivory, blush, and charcoal were also hot-ticket items throughout the year. 

In Germany: Non-alcoholic spirits and vegan dog treats

Faire’s growing community of German retailers is on the cutting edge of consumer trends. The sober-curious movement was evident among German buyers on Faire with non-alcoholic beverages like a lemon aperitif, an Aperol alternative, and an artichoke digestive leading the pack. German shoppers must love their pets because vegan dog treats and dog jerky also proved popular with buyers.

In France: Artisanal organic beverages and cross-body bags 

Artisanal drinks inspired by relaxation, dreams, and love were popular with French buyers, as well as innovative energy drinks and bottled beverages with unique flavors such as peach iced white tea. Fashionable yet practical accessories including cross-body bags also made waves with buyers in France this year. 

Retailers are searching for…

We looked at the top search terms of 2023 to see what products and seasons most interested retailers. Christmas is still the biggest buying holiday of the year, but Halloween jumped from the #4 to the #2 spot for holiday searches in 2023. Many of the top product searches from 2022 continued trending in 2023, but “freeze dried candy” was the one brand-new search term to make the top 10 list this year. 

Top global holidays:

  • Christmas
  • Halloween
  • Easter
  • Valentine’s Day

Top global searches:

  • Candle 
  • Jewelry 
  • Freeze dried candy 
  • Earrings
  • Candy

Customer values

Consumers have continued to make buying decisions based on their values in 2023, and on Faire, we make it easy to find brands with certain principles. Stockists on Faire continue to champion women-owned brands—in fact, purchases with this value tag increased 91% from 2022. Purchases from brands with the not-on-Amazon value tag increased by 60% from 2022, and brands with handmade (up 21%) and eco-friendly (up 35%) value tags also saw considerable growth since last year.  

Top 2023 trends across the globe

While some 2023 buying trends were unique to specific countries or regions, other trends were more universal. No matter where in the world you are, Barbie and freeze-dried candy are undeniable (and undeniably fun).      

Barbie

The Barbie movie took the world by storm in 2023, and retailers across Faire’s global community saw a huge surge in related products. We counted nearly 20,000 searches worldwide for “Barbie” on Faire between October 1, 2022, and October 1, 2023. Searches for “Barbie” also landed in the top 20 global monthly searches across June, July, and August. At the peak of its popularity this summer, we even saw four Barbie-themed products hit the list of top 20 products on Faire. 

Freeze-dried candy

In the Food and Drink category on Faire, one type of product stood head and shoulders above the rest: freeze-dried candy. All moisture is removed from these sweets, which makes the flavors pop and gives them a novel texture.  

“Freeze-dried candy” is a supercharged trend … it zoomed to a top five search term spot on Faire, while it barely made a blip in 2022. In fact, between October 2022 and October 2023, searches for “freeze dried candy” grew by about 550%. In April through September, freeze-dried candy products represented three out of the top 10 most popular products in the confections category, with searches at their highest in July. 

Apparel trends

Comfort seemed to be top of mind for apparel retailers throughout the Faire community this year, as comfy socks and sweatshirts were some of our bestselling apparel products. Some apparel trends that topped the list last year remained popular on Faire in 2023, including shackets, crop tops, and bralettes. Slouch neck pullovers, cami tank tops, maxi shirt dresses, harem jumpsuits, and corded crew sweatshirts were big sellers. 

How our 2023 predictions performed

Throughout the year, we made predictions about trends we thought would continue to be popular on Faire. Now that 2023 is wrapping up, let’s see how they stacked up. 

Tinned fish

Tiny Fish Co
Tinned octopus from Tiny Fish Co.

Tinned fish rocketed upward in popularity last year, and in 2023, we saw even more enthusiasm. In February 2023, searches for “fish”—which largely yield results for canned fish products—had already increased by 110% from 2022 at that time. By March 2023, searches for “fish” had increased by 125% year-over-year, and it seems like there’s no end in sight. Since our February article, either all of the top sellers or at least four of the top five most popular products in the Dairy and Meat category have been tinned fish. 

My wholesale accounts increased by nearly 5x in 2023. As someone who has spent most of their waking hours in a restaurant, it means so much to me to be able to produce a quality product that comes in an unexpected package.

Sara Hauman, Founder, Tiny Fish Co.

Tinned fish isn’t popular only on Faire—it’s become part of the zeitgeist. At the time that we published the spring trends article, TikTok videos using #tinfishdatenight had 20 million views. Since then, that number has more than doubled, coming in at over 45 million views so far. 

Even the New York Times took notice and published an article about the “affordable luxury” of tinned fish. Forbes also reported on the popularity of tinned fish, calling the trend “something old that is new again.” There’s even a store in Times Square dedicated entirely to tinned fish. 

Hop on this delicious trend: Find tinned fish and more on Faire

Sober curious

The sober-curious trend has extended far beyond Dry January. At the beginning of 2023, we wrote about the movement’s staying power. This year, the category grew a whopping 244% between January 2022 and January 2023 on Faire. And as of October 2023, the #sobercurious hashtag on TikTok had 720 million views and #mocktail had 1.3 billion views. 

Since the beginning of 2023, our sales team has tripled in size to meet the growing demand for softer, healthier, and more responsible beverages. This strong demand has also enabled us to develop new products, such as our first lemonade.

Maximilien Ple, Founder, JOMO

The alcohol-free trend has made the news outside of Faire throughout 2023 as well. Nielsen IQ predicted that summer 2023 would be the “rise of mocktails” season. Drizly reported that the non-alcoholic beverage category portion of its total beverage sales—including non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits—increased by 54% on the app during summer 2023 compared with the same period in 2022. Zero-proof spirits also increased by an astounding 300% in share on Drizly in that time period. 

Consumers are responding enthusiastically to the new, delicious, and sophisticated non-alcoholic options on the market, so stock your store with these alcohol-free beers, wine, and spirits from Faire

Nature-inspired decor

Indoor plants, leafy wallpaper, and floral designs are still beloved by our buyers. Since our report in June on the popularity of nature-inspired decor, the category has continued to boom. Wall decor incorporating birds, butterflies, and sunshine are still among the top 10 most popular products on Faire. 

Several of the top 10 products in the Decorative Objects category were inspired by nature as well, including mushroom vases and velvet decorative pumpkins. Meanwhile, searches for “plants” also held steady on Faire throughout the year, with more than 3,000 searches per month up until September.

Nature-inspired interiors are calming, grounding, and serene. To know that our pieces are helping in creating happy, relaxing spaces that are visually interesting is the biggest compliment for us.

Abigail Ahern, Founder, Abigail Ahern

Nature-inspired decor is part of a larger movement known as “biophilic design,” which encourages a greater connection to nature by incorporating natural elements in both interior and exterior spaces. According to this Lifehacker article, biophilic design is one of the biggest home decor trends right now, with an emphasis on natural materials, natural lighting, natural colors, natural shapes and patterns, and plenty of plants. Psychology Today also released a report on how biophilic design can improve your well-being, proving that there’s more to this trend than mere aesthetics. 

There’s still a very high demand for this soothing trend, and you can shop home accents and plants on Faire.

What’s to come in 2024

After looking at our own marketplace data and talking with industry experts, we have a half-dozen predictions on the trends that will shape the year ahead.

New to Faire? Sign up to shop, or apply to sell.

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