In September, seven-year-old rental startup Le Tote made an expensive, risky bet to acquire more customers. It spent $100 million to buy beleaguered department store Lord & Taylor from Hudsons Bay company. But as the coronavirus forced temporary closures in the U.S., it became clear the bet wouldn't pay off. On Sunday, Le Tote and Lord & Taylor both filed for bankruptcy. Now, Le Tote's survival depends upon it finding a buyer for as much of Lord & Taylor as possible.
On the latest episode of our Modern Retail Talk series, we spoke with Forrester's Sucharita Kodali about what she's observing in this brand new climate. The pandemic, she said, "set the retail industry back about five years." The good news, however, is that "there should be a fairly decent rebound."
It can be a good time to sign a new lease, for retailers whose businesses haven't completely collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic. Landlords are desperate to find new tenants as more retailers increasingly declare bankruptcy. But retailers may also risk squandering cash if they sign a new lease before shoppers are completely comfortable returning regularly to stores and/or malls again.
A natural wine importer had vowed to draft an ethical contract to which all business partners will sign. Companies have long claimed to be ethical, but are now being asked more fervently to practice what they preach. A looming question underneath it all is how much of this talk about transparency and ethical business practices is used to shield from future scandals or as marketing jargon.
Aldi is trying to strike gold in the United States. With customers more prepared to differentiate on price by a looming recession, it’s now perfectly positioned for widespread expansion. For its competitors, meanwhile, Aldi’s ascendance could mean a race to the bottom when it comes to prices -- as well as more private label products crowding out named brand stalwarts.
Last week, Simon Property Group and Authentic Brands Group submitted a $305 million for 200-year-old bankrupt apparel retailer Brooks Brothers, through a joint LLC the two had set up called Sparc. The deal is still subject to court approval, as well as if higher bids come in. But no matter how the deal pans out, it gives some important insight into what mall owners like Simon are looking for in acquisition targets, as an unprecedented number of struggling retailers are likely to be up for sale this year.
Despite a newfound appreciation for them in advertising campaigns, essential retail workers say their jobs have become more stressful as the pandemic has dragged on, and short-term pay bonuses and words of thanks have provided little comfort.
A teenager's petition created a public outcry about Trader Joe's private label branding. The company, as a result, has renewed its pledge to discontinue its practices. While the grocer has said it would do this for years, now may be the time it's actually forced to change.
Same-day delivery of food and alcohol has become expected for many consumers. This means third-party delivery services have to get even more creative in retaining and gaining new users. Besides consolidating, the latest strategy for companies like DoorDash and Postmates is to go back to the drawing board and offer non-food items.
Customers hate call-to-cancel policies. They’re fiddly, time-consuming and inconvenient. And for people who may be Deaf or hard of hearing -- approximately 15% of the population -- they pose still more challenges. Meanwhile, some of these practices walk an extremely tenuous legal line.
Since the start of the pandemic, unions have helped bolster safety protocols for retail workers, given them support to push back on decisions that put them at risk, and allowed them more influence over decisions that impact them directly. But for many retail employees, it's still a long road ahead until they get contract and fairer work conditions.
The unit economics and ethics of VC-backed delivery apps have been questioned for years. However, the pandemic has brought these issues into focus and lent an alternative crop of services the chance to step in and partner with local restaurants. Platforms like Slice, Seated and Chowbus hope to reduce fees for owners while making online takeout ordering a more sustainable model.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., most national retailers have held off on requiring customers to wear masks for entry, unless the state or city a particular store is in required it. Now, that's starting to change. Yesterday, Walmart announced that it would require customers to wear face masks to enter stores starting on July 20. And the largest industry trade group is encouraging other retailers to follow in Walmart's footsteps.
When PPP entered high demand, Etsy was well positioned. In the month of April alone, the marketplace sold about 12 million fabric face masks, to a total cost of $133 million. The core Etsy marketplace, meanwhile, grew 79% year-over-year. The question remains whether or not it can continue this growth once things begin to subside.
Back-to-school shopping is an important time of year for retailers. Parents typically spend hundreds of dollars, on average, during back-to-school season, and it's one of the few shopping holidays where spending hasn't drastically shifted as much online. But that could change this year, thanks to the coronavirus, as shoppers remain hesitant to visit stores, and parents are unsure yet what all they will exactly need on their kids' back-to-school list.
One thing is true for nearly all conversions on Amazon: They’re captured by products on page one of the search results. And a significant share of purchases go to just the top few results.
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