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 Guitar Center teaching a ukulele lesson on a plane to holiday hiring ramping up, here’s our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Nordstrom Rack keeps growing
September has been a busy month for Nordstrom’s off-price Rack banner. The retailer this week announced that California will get three new Rack stores next year, in Anaheim Hills, Clovis and San Clemente; earlier this month the company said that three will open in the Pacific Northwest (in Union Gap and Olympia, Washington, and Salem, Oregon) next fall, and one will open in Delray Beach, Florida, next spring.
With the addition of the three California locations, Nordstrom will operate 57 Rack stores, 23 full-line stores, five Nordstrom Locals and one Asos | Nordstrom in California, according to a company press release. The move comes despite the struggles at Rack, which is faltering compared to rivals, in a segment that more broadly is unusually challenged these days.
Nike launches a shoe recycling mini program on Alipay
Nike announced on Monday that it partnered with Ant Group’s Green Energy Initiative to launch a program on Alipay to encourage consumers to recycle their shoes.
Chinese consumers can search the mini program “Recycle-A-Shoe” in the Alipay app and have their worn Nike shoes collected for recycling. The shoes will then be dismantled and reprocessed to make sustainable sports courts.
“In China, Nike continues to strive toward its goal of ‘Move to Zero’ and encourages the public to take part in environmental protection. The innovative cooperation with Ant Group allows Nike’s Recycle-A-Shoe program to reach more consumers through digital solutions on the Alipay platform and incorporates Nike’s sustainability efforts into daily life, which is our long-term commitment,” Stanley Chang, vice president of operations and logistics of Nike Greater China, said in a statement.
Home Depot employees file petition to unionize
Home Depot workers in Philadelphia this week filed a petition to form a union, according to a National Labor Relations Board filing. The petition — which includes 274 employees who work in merchandising, specialty and operations — lists the union as “Home Depot Workers United.”
The move comes as more retail employees push to unionize. In April, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island voted to unionize, and earlier this month, an officer with the NLRB recommended rejecting an objection made by Amazon in opposition to the union. And employees at outdoor retailer REI earlier this year successfully voted to unionize at its stores in Berkeley, California, and New York.
Sixty Home Depot delivery drivers in 2019 voted to join a union, which Teamsters at the time said were the first employees from the home improvement retailer to join the union.
Guitar Center partners with Southwest Airlines to create new version of hell on Earth
Giving customers the opposite of peace and quiet, Guitar Center announced on Saturday that it partnered with Southwest Airlines to “surprise” customers with an in-flight ukulele class, per a press release.
We teamed up with @guitarcenter to surprise a flight full of Customers flying out of Long Beach with a ukulele and a lesson. By the time they arrived in Honolulu they were pros. pic.twitter.com/XsEx10sRJK— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) September 20, 2022
Yes, that is correct — Guitar Center and Southwest Airlines brought a nightmare scenario to real life. Customers on a flight from Long Beach to Honolulu last Friday were given Mitchell MU40 Soprano ukuleles, Road Runner carrying cases and a lesson, learning to play the song "Hello, Aloha. How are you?" during the flight, per the release.
To celebrate this joyous event that we all hope was consented to by flight customers, the companies are holding a sweepstakes for a chance to win round trip air travel on Southwest for a winner and a guest, and two ukuleles.
Athleta creates a new look
The Gap Inc. brand unveiled a “unique styling formula” with an eight-piece capsule collection that promises to transition throughout the day “without compromising function or style.” The goal is to have a streamlined way of putting an outfit together by layering pieces.
Getting dressed in The Athleta Look has three parts:
- Starting with a performance layer “for morning yoga flow.”
- Adding to that base with an all-day active product “for those post-workout errands.”
- Adding an outwear layer for a “chic way to keep warm.”
The capsule collection is a way for shoppers to buy and build a look, and translates into 20 different outfits. Prices range from $54 to $229 and items are in sizes XXS to 3X, as well as petite and tall.
What we're still thinking about
That’s how many corporate employees Gap Inc. is letting go. It’s been an especially rough year at Gap: Both the Old Navy chief and then the company CEO left abruptly, and last week its high-profile Yeezy Gap collaboration, reportedly meant to last a decade, imploded as Ye (also known as Kanye West) lobbed accusations at his corporate partner.
The job cuts make sense financially, but aren’t enough to rescue the company, according to GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders.
“What Gap desperately needs is a coherent and clear plan that puts Old Navy back on track and reinvigorates the ailing Gap brand,” he said in emailed comments. “Unfortunately, neither of these things is in place. With the lack of a permanent CEO, the partnership with Yeezy going south, and various supply chain snafus the Gap is holding a whole basket of problems and very few solutions.”
That’s how many active customers Stitch Fix lost in the fourth quarter compared to the same period last year. It amounts to about 9% of the company’s active client base, which it defines as anyone who received a box or item from its Freestyle website in the last 52 weeks, including all women’s, men’s and kids accounts regardless of whether they are in the same household.
The drop-off in customers comes as the apparel company reported fourth quarter net revenue fell 16% year over year to $481.9 million. Stitch Fix’s net loss also reached $96.3 million from a net profit of $21.5 million last year.
What we're watching
How holiday hiring is shaking out
As with every year when summer turns to fall, retailers have begun prepping for their seasonal work needs. This week alone, both Target and Walmart — two retailers that often set the tone for the industry as a whole — came out with holiday hiring projections. Target’s plan looks a lot like the retailer’s plan last year: The company is looking to hire up to 100,000 employees again in both store and supply chain roles.
But Walmart was another story. The chain said it would hire just 40,000 associates for the holiday season, a drop of more than 100,000 from the previous year. The nearly 75% decline includes hires for store associates, truck drivers and customer care associates. While the number is significantly lower than last year’s hiring spree, it is double the number of associates Walmart hired during the pandemic-challenged holiday season of 2020 to staff fulfillment centers.
As more retailers make decisions on hiring, we’ll be watching how retailers manage staffing, especially amid a wave of corporate layoffs and continued consumer concerns about inflation.