Price to pay
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Fashion retailers face challenges with prices.
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September 28, 2023

Retail Brew

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Happy Thursday. If you thought reading this newsletter would allow you to escape the Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce news, you thought wrong. That’s because Heinz is getting in on the saga with a new condiment called “Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch” based on a viral tweet from a Swiftie account identifying what was on the pop star’s plate at the recent Chiefs game. We’ll try to follow up with Heinz to figure out what goes into making “seemingly ranch.”

In today’s edition:

—Jeena Sharma, Erin Cabrey, Alex Vuocolo


Never back down

A GIF from Succession that says, Succession/HBO via Giphy

If almost all of your recent conversations with friends seem to end with, “Everything is so expensive,” you’re not alone. But while consumers are certainly feeling the pinch of rising costs these days, so are retailers.

And fashion brands like Zara have responded by hiking prices, which means passing the costs along to shoppers. But weeks after companies like Macy’s and Foot Locker cautioned the market about weak consumer spending, questions around whether fashion retailers should consider cutting down on prices have arisen.

“We have seen a gradual, steady increase in our Price Sensitivity index for apparel over the past year, suggesting consumers are gradually becoming more willing to walk away from potential clothing purchases because of higher prices,” Kayla Bruun, senior economist at Morning Consult, told Retail Brew in an email, explaining that although apparel prices, for instance, haven’t gone up as much other products, they’ve been on the rise for several years which has made consumers weary of the higher costs for discretionary purchases.

And while luxury remains somewhat insulated from consumers cutting back on spending given the aspirational nature of the brands and a smaller pool of loyal customers, fast fashion retailers could face challenging times ahead.

Keep reading here.—JS



$lay every season

Intuit Mailchimp

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Where’s the chief?

A white Walgreens sign with red writing Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

While the internet is buzzing about the Kansas City Chiefs’s tight end and a certain pop star spotted in the stands, we’re zeroing in on retail chiefs and the moves they’ve made in the past month. Here are the ones to know:

  • Rosalind Brewer departed her role as Walgreens CEO and board member after less than three years with the retailer, with board member Ginger Graham taking over in the interim.
  • Sephora North America announced its chief merchandising officer Artemis Patrick will assume the role of president on October 2 and CEO next April, when the beauty retailer’s current president and CEO, Jean-André Rougeot, retires.
  • Bloomingdale’s tapped Olivier Bron, former CEO of Central Group’s Central and Robinson Department Stores in Thailand, as its next CEO. Bron will take over from Tony Spring, who will become Macy’s chief in February.
  • Express CEO Timothy Baxter resigned as CEO after four years in the role, replaced by Stewart Glendinning, a former Tyson Foods executive.
  • Krispy Kreme promoted Josh Charlesworth, its global president and COO, to the role of president and CEO, effective January 1, assuming the role from Michael Tattersfield, who will serve on the board and as a senior advisor.

Keep reading here.—EC



A Dollar short

People walk outside a Dollar General store. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Dollar General had a rough go of it last week: JPMorgan downgraded its stock rating to the equivalent of “sell.” CNBC’s Jim Cramer told investors to “stay away,” and Bloomberg published an exposé titled “Why Dollar General Might Just Be the Worst Retail Job in America.”

The string of bad headlines came just a few weeks after the company cut its annual profit forecast, even as fellow discounters Dollar Tree and Dollarama appeared to benefit from cash-strapped consumers trading down to lower-cost options.

“It’s kind of an ironic situation,” Christine Short, vice president of research at Wall Street Horizon, told Retail Brew, because “dollar stores are supposed to do well in this environment.”

Keep reading here.—JS



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Strategies for meeting the modern consumer

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In a world where fleeting attention and demanding shoppers rule, discover how retailers are adapting by tapping into DTC principles and harnessing cutting-edge tech to revolutionize their e-commerce strategies. Join Retail Brew as we explore the art of captivating and retaining today’s discerning consumers in the ever-evolving retail universe. Register now.


Today’s top retail reads.

Out west: Ralph Lauren has spent decades creating one of the largest fashion brands in the world, and his attention to detail and appreciation for storytelling have contributed to his success. (Financial Times)

Doubling down: UNTuckit’s founder Chris Riccobono found success of his own in the early days of the pandemic. Now he’s assembling a team to tackle the company’s next big challenge. (The Robin Report)

Let’s get physical: StockX will take its first crack at IRL retail with a “shoppable experience” in NYC in October. (Modern Retail)

Seasonal supercharge: Prep for Black Friday and Cyber Monday—and close out 2023 with a bang for your bucks—at Marketing Success Season 2023. It’s Intuit Mailchimp’s free virtual conference helping marketers score winning EOY strategies. Sign up.*

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The numbers you need to know.

Every year, retailers and e-commerce brands are increasingly introducing social commerce and personalization tools that improve the customer experience, but as shopping becomes more digital, that does come with some downsides.

  • Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest are becoming increasingly more critical to the shopping experience, but integrating these platforms into commerce operations requires the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), which are susceptible to hacking.
  • Despite the increased number of attacks, a survey from security platform Noname Security found that 76% of retail and e-commerce respondents report having a full API inventory. Also, only 39% said they know which APIs return sensitive data, while 24% admitted to only having a partial view of inventory.
  • Still, it’s better than 2022, when two-thirds (67%) of respondents reported a lack of visibility and only a third having a full inventory of APIs and knowing which returned sensitive data.

“Clearly, APIs have become the default connectivity and data exchange method within modern e-commerce and will continue to be so in the future,” the report read. “Looking ahead, securing APIs from both a pre-production and post-production perspective is paramount to securely operating in our e-commerce world.”

And a lack of security has major downstream implications: Half of retail and e-commerce respondents said customers lost confidence in them and churned their accounts, while 47% reported a dropoff in productivity as a result.

It’s safe to say that these concerns are now top of mind, given that more than three-quarters (77%) say API security is a bigger priority than it was a year ago. Half of respondents now say it is a requirement, and 50% of them also said it enables business operations.


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