It’s been another week with far more retail news than there is time in the day. Below, we break down some things you may have missed during the week and what we’re still thinking about.
From Lululemon’s decision to pause some returns to Party City’s bankruptcy filing, here’s our closeout for the week.
What you missed
Lululemon pauses some returns until February
Lululemon has temporarily paused online returns tied to its “quality promise” to work through inquiries from the holiday season, a company spokesperson said.
“It’s a historical decision that allows us to prioritize and focus on time sensitive guest interactions over the holiday season,” the spokesperson told Retail Dive via email. “And, as always, our store Educators are available to help guests on any returns at their local store.”
On the retailer’s website, Lululemon says it is working through a “high volume of inquiries” and customers will be able to submit performance-based return requests online again in late February.
AmazonSmile goes upside down
A decade ago Amazon launched “AmazonSmile,” a way for customers to feel extra-good about shopping its site by contributing a portion of their purchase to a favored charitable cause. But the e-commerce giant now says the program was spread too thin, and that it will end by Feb. 20. Charities that had been receiving AmazonSmile funds will get one last donation equal to three months of what they earned last year, along with whatever accrues until the effort ends.
After that, a charity can ask for support from Amazon shoppers by creating a wish list. Amazon, which “ranks among the top corporate philanthropists in the U.S.,” according to a company blog post Wednesday, “will continue to pursue and invest in other areas where it can make meaningful change — from building affordable housing to providing access to computer science education for students in underserved communities.”
BuyBuy Baby launches another private label
BuyBuy Baby on Thursday introduced its second private label dubbed Ever & Ever.
The collection will include apparel, in sizes preemie through 4T; furniture, like cribs, nightstands and dressers; decor, like rugs and storage bins; and bedding and bath items.
The company said the collection “reflects a modern interpretation of classic styles for everyday play, inspired by the sweetness of early childhood,” according to a press release.
Ever & Ever is available across BuyBuy Baby’s stores, app and website.
The new private label comes as Bed Bath & Beyond is moving away from private labels. In August, the company announced it discontinued three of its owned brands in a pivot to selling more national brands.
The overall company has struggled over the years, more recently warning it could file for bankruptcy. Bed Bath & Beyond is now reportedly in talks with private equity firm Sycamore Partners to sell some of its assets — including its BuyBuy Baby stores — as part of a bankruptcy process, according to a New York Times report citing anonymous sources.
Kim Kardashian purchases iconic Princess Diana pendant
A representative of socialite Kim Kardashian purchased the Attallah Cross pendant, worn on several occasions by Princess Diana, at an auction in London on Wednesday, according to multiple media reports. Purchased well above the estimated auction price, the reality star beat out other bidders, snagging the pendant for 163,800 pounds (around $200,000 at press time). Made in 1920, square-cut amethyst stones make the cross shape with circular-cut diamonds bordering in an intricate design. Princess Diana wore the pendant on a necklace to multiple events throughout her life and it hasn’t been seen publicly since her death.
This isn’t Kardashian’s first time showing interest in archival pieces. For the 2022 Met Gala, she arrived in Marilyn Monroe’s famous 1962 dress worn when serenading president John F. Kennedy on his birthday. Already facing controversy, reports also rose that the dress had been damaged after the Met Gala. Both historians and fashion lovers alike have taken to social media to voice their opinions on whether or not Kardashian should own the pendant.
The latest in executive search: Stitch Fix hunts for a CEO on Twitter
Stitch Fix is in need of a permanent CEO after Elizabeth Spaulding abruptly left earlier this month and founder Katrina Lake made clear she would only step in for six months. Venture capitalist Bill Gurley, a major Stitch Fix shareholder, board member and chair of its nominating and corporate governance committee, took to Twitter last week to jump-start the process.
[Unconventional, but here goes...]— Bill Gurley (@bgurley) January 13, 2023
If you know someone who would be perfect for the $SFIX CEO opportunity, we are all ears. Looking for operating prowess, strong product instincts, & a strong cultural leader. Please send serious leads to: [email protected]
[Please retweet] pic.twitter.com/uOSXcOlT2b
In a tweet under his verified handle, @bgurley, Gurley admits the tactic is “unconventional,” but said Stitch Fix is looking for “serious leads” for a candidate with “operating prowess, strong product instincts, & a strong cultural leader.” Only people Gurley follows or mentioned can reply to the tweet, though it includes an email address to forward nominations, and he requested retweets, presumably to spread the word.
Jonathan Hyman, an attorney at law firm Wickens Herzer Panza who specializes in management-side labor and employment law, believes the effort is a publicity stunt rather than an effective executive search method.
“It seems an odd tool to source a CEO,” he said by email.
Neither Gurley nor Stitch Fix immediately responded to requests for comment and more information about the company’s search process.
What we’re still thinking about
That’s how much holiday sales rose year over year from November to December, according to a press release from the National Retail Federation on Wednesday.
The number missed the low end of the trade group’s 6% to 8% growth prediction put out in early November. However, overall sales growth for the year did hit the group’s expectations, increasing 7% year over year to $4.9 trillion.
“We knew it could be touch-and-go for final holiday sales given early shopping in October that likely pulled some sales forward plus price pressures and cold, stormy weather,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “The pace of spending was choppy, and consumers may have pulled back more than we had hoped, but these numbers show that they navigated a challenging, inflation-driven environment reasonably well. The bottom line is that consumers are still engaged and shopping despite everything happening around them.”
That’s how much electronics sales declined in December, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The news caps off a tough year for the electronics industry, which was full of bloated inventory levels that led to increased markdowns. Category giants such as Best Buy have had a slew of rough earnings results, repeatedly reporting declined sales throughout 2022.
The category did see higher consumer interest from Thanksgiving to Black Friday, where shoppers turned to high discounts on big-ticket items.
What we’re watching
Party City’s bankruptcy
Party City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday. On Wednesday, a federal judge granted the company immediate access to $75 million of a $150 million bankruptcy loan. The company said the debtor-in-possession loan will allow it to stay open and to pay employees and suppliers.
In its filing, the company said the pandemic affected the bottom line. Faced with lockdowns, social distancing orders and record high inflation, many people were unable or unwilling to buy Party City’s costumes, decorations and balloons. The New York Stock Exchange also delisted Party City this week, citing the ongoing bankruptcy. The bankruptcy loan case is due back in court Feb. 14, when a judge will decide if the rest of the loan will be released.