Off-price stores, including TJ Maxx and Ross, are recovering a lot quicker than many bankrupt retail counterparts. While department stores with robust online shopping presence continue to struggle, discount chains -- that still rely mostly on in-store purchases -- are finding loyal customers returning for bargains amid the pandemic.
More people bought holiday items online, and returns volumes are likely to hit record highs. And these items may end up on a liquidation site or at a warehouse, where small businesses, resellers or regular consumers can buy bundles of products at steep discounts. In recent months, many of those liquidators have reported a surge in inventory, right as resale platforms like Poshmark are ballooning in popularity. And to unload products faster, the two industries are partnering up.
Last year, a number of major fashion brands -- Lululemon, Adidas, Stella McCartney and Gucci -- announced they were investing “seven-figure sums” to produce clothes and shoes made out of mycelium fabric with a startup called Bolt Threads. Bolt Threads specializes in a mycelium-based leather it calls Mylo -- and as the leather industry continues to slide, driven in part by concerns about sustainability and animal rights, startups are pitching fungi as an environmentally friendly replacement.
The architect of JCPenney's most recent turnaround plan has left the company. Last week, JCPenney announced that CEO Jill Soltau was leaving the company effective December 31. During Soltau's two-year tenure, she started to take some steps JCPenney around, by paring down the company's in-store assortment, redesigning some of its private label brands, and had started to experiment with new store formats. But some analysts said she didn't move quickly before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, JCPenney's path forward under its new owners, Simon and Brookfield, is unclear.
It took it nearly three decades since its humble beginnings, but the QR code is officially considered hip. Thanks to its ubiquitous presence at shops and restaurants across the country, this year the QR code's technology is making up for lost time.
Oddly, 2020 might prove to be the year of the zombie brand. Even the companies that did shutter their physical stores are on track to find a second life online, thanks to companies like Retail Ecommerce Ventures buying rights to the brands out of bankruptcy.
Nearly 30 retailers have filed for bankruptcy so far in 2020, closing thousands of a stores. But a few of those businesses have been acquired by consortia like Authentic Brands Group. Most recently ABG has purchased Brooks Brothers, Forever 21 and Barneys -- all ailing for their own set of reasons. ABG's philosophy seems simple, and predicated on past wins: buy low and eke out profit any way you can every step of the way. The question remains: Who's next?
Social selling just recently began to take off in the U.S., but the trend is quickly evolving to include everything from virtual cooking classes to artisan services. As marketplace Zazzle's investment in its Zazzle Live shows, demand for on-demand digital activities is beginning to stick.
With the exception of Peapod, these companies all imploded in 2000 and 2001 following the dot-com crash. The story of their failure demonstrates why online grocery took so long to finally catch on in the U.S. -- even though tech entrepreneurs have long thought grocery delivery was the way of the future, they just wouldn’t invest.
Patagonia's used clothing program is beginning to take off. The company has been gradually building out its own resale platform, Worn Wear. Now, the four-year-old service, which allows customers to sell their own Patagonia items and buy authenticated used ones, is having a “record year” in sales, according to the company.
Reebok's future as a part of Adidas is now in question, after the German sportswear brand confirmed to media outlets on Monday it "has started to assess strategic alternatives for Reebok, including but not limited to a potential sale of the business." Reebok has lost market share in U.S. sneakers since it was acquired by Adidas, and though Adidas has recently been reinvesting in growing Reebok's profile, a coronavirus-induced sales hit made it harder for Adidas to build the Reebok brand.
Holiday pop-up markets have been a winter staple of malls and city centers for years. But this year, holiday pop-ups look a little different. While some places are still moving forward with in-person events, other companies are instead turning their pop-ups into online marketplaces, either because new pandemic restrictions have made in-person events all but impossible. The challenge is that not all of the businesses who typically sell through holiday markets are equipped yet to sell online, and getting people to discover new small businesses is a tougher task online.
The future of gyms remains up in the air, but trainers are finding new digital sources of income. Equipped with their followers, influencer-like instructors are wielding their power -- cutting out the middleman and building out their own virtual fitness channels. And platforms are popping up helping these trainers build out their own independent businesses.
Free sample stands are often considered a big in-store conversion driver for food brands. Now, startup brands are testing out new ways to get their products to potential customers. They're doing this by partnering with restaurants and cafes or tacking on free samples to existing orders. These tactics aren't a panacea, but they are helping these startups find more eyeballs.
On Monday, Ikea announced that it would be shutting down its print catalog, after a 70 year run. While there are a few other companies have shut down or temporarily cut back on print catalogs this year, like Uncommon Goods, Ikea is actually an outlier. But that's also because Ikea has been lagging behind its competitors in recent years in building out a big e-commerce business.
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