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 back-to-school deals to Kentucky Fried Chicken merchandise, here’s our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Walmart, Target prep for back-to-school shopping
While it’s still very much summer, retailers are readying back-to-school sales events. Both Target and Walmart on Thursday made announcements to entice shoppers ahead of the back-to-school and back-to-college shopping seasons. Both retailers are also catering to teachers: From July 16 to Aug. 26, Target will offer educators a one-time 20% discount on their entire purchase, while Walmart is allowing teachers to create classroom registries on its website.
The announcements come as consumers are expected to spend more on back-to-school purchases this year. According to a recent JLL survey, parents are expected to spend 15.7% more than last year, with 78.3% reporting they’ll shop at a mass merchant.
The Body Shop partners with HeadCount to increase voter registration
In an effort to increase voter registration, The Body Shop has teamed up with HeadCount. The initiative is part of “Be Seen. Be Heard,” The Body Shop's joint campaign with the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth.
Customers can visit The Body Shop’s stores and website to register to vote, advocate for fair and accessible elections, and sign a pledge supporting participation in democracy among younger people.
"During last year's midterm elections, youth across the US made their voices heard loud and clear," Hilary Lloyd, vice president of marketing and corporate social responsibility for The Body Shop North America, said in a statement. "Young people have the courage and moral clarity to help build a better world, but our institutions are not doing enough to make sure they are seen and heard. We hope this campaign, and partnership with HeadCount, will inspire more youth to think about engaging with democracy as an ongoing practice, not just during major elections."
The Body Shop is also enlisting “Changemaker” ambassadors — youth activists like Gen Z Girl Gang founder and reproductive rights activist Deja Foxx and Youth Climate Save Founder and animal rights advocate Genesis Butler — to help spread its message. The Body Shop and HeadCount will host a number of events geared toward increasing voter registration as well.
NRF: Economy ‘still moving in the right direction’
U.S. consumers have come through for retailers in 2023 so far, but the second half of the year could be another story, according to analysis released Thursday from National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.
“The resiliency of the U.S. consumer will be tested in the coming months as economic headwinds are likely to impair spending,” Kleinhenz said in a statement.
Still, he noted that $500 billion in savings that accumulated during the pandemic along with ongoing jobs growth will ensure some momentum. In Q1, despite higher interest rates and stubborn inflation, consumer spending – some 70% of GDP – rose at an annual rate of 4.2%, four times the 1% growth in the previous quarter and the fastest growth since mid-2021, according to the NRF report.
“The first half of the year is over and the economy is still moving in the right direction,” Kleinhenz said. “While its rhythm, tone and pattern have slowed, it has not stalled and recently revised data shows underlying strength that seems to be rolling forward.”
Retail sales in the first five months of the year were relatively healthy, rising 4.2% in May in the segments followed by Retail Dive. Unadjusted household spending is slowing and shifting from goods to services, the NRF noted. One variable not noted in NRF’s report is the effect of the Supreme Court’s rejection of President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. Analysts expect retailers to take a hit during the back-to-school and holiday seasons as households grapple with student debt obligations.
Kentucky Fried Merch?
For National Fried Chicken Day July 6, fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken debuted a new merch collection and online store, KFCShop.com.
The limited-quantity Ultimate Summer Collection offers a beach towel, bucket hat, koozie, slides, a tumbler and a pair of sunglasses in collaboration with Kentucky-based brand Shady Rays. The line was created in partnership with Ink Branded.
The shop will be updated regularly with new collections and items, according to a press release. Additionally, customers can receive free delivery for food ordered on the KFC app through July 9.
It’s the one and only Snoop Doggie Doggs… at Kohl’s
Snoop Dogg is well-known for dropping new business efforts like they’re hot, including his collab with the 19 Crimes wine label and, more recently, his Snoop Doggie Doggs line of petwear.
The aptly-named line was launched last fall on Amazon and its namesake website, but now the celebrity is taking Snoop Doggie Doggs to the big leagues with the addition of seven wholesale partners. Among them are big-name retailers like Petco, PetSmart and Kohl’s, according to a company press release, as well as Healthy Spot, Pet Supplies Plus, Faire and Wholesale Pet.
This is just the beginning of Snoop Doggie Doggs’ expansion: The brand plans to add more retail partners over the course of 2023, all in the name of “bringing the Dog(g)’s Life to dogs and cats everywhere.”
According to SMAC Entertainment and Little Earth Productions, which helped create the line, Snoop Doggie Doggs is already seeing success with consumers, who no doubt relate to Snoop Dogg’s iconic statement when the brand launched: “If my dogs ain’t fresh I ain’t fresh.”
What we’re still thinking about
That’s how many stores Christmas Tree Shops now plans to close after failing to find a buyer. The Massachusetts-based home decor and discount gift retailer said in court documents last week that it didn’t think any interested parties would come forward to buy before the deadline set by its lenders.
The company filed for Chapter 11 in early May. At that time, Christmas Tree Shops said it had 82 stores; it planned to close about 10 as part of the bankruptcy process. The retailer secured – and then defaulted – on a debtor-in-possession loan. Consequently, its bankruptcy lenders cut off funding late last month. Christmas Tree Shops began near Cape Cod in the 1950s and was previously owned by Bed Bath & Beyond, which is also going out of business in bankruptcy.
If your annual salary is less than that, get ready to swipe and open your banking app. The Supreme Court ruled last week in a 6-3 decision to overturn President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Under Biden’s plan, people who earned less than $125,000 per year would have seen up to $20,000 in individual federal student loan debt canceled.
According to Forbes, borrowers owe $1.75 trillion in federal and private student loan debt. About 92% of student debt is federally held. And on average, each person owes nearly $30,000.
As a result of the court’s decision, analysts told Retail Dive that retail’s apparel and home goods sectors – as well as younger and lower-income households – are likely to be most affected as people will soon find themselves with less money to spend on discretionary purchases.
What we’re watching
FTC updates endorsement, review guidelines
To better combat deceptive reviews and endorsements, the Federal Trade Commission on June 29 released its updated Endorsement Guides, which aim to ensure that reviews or endorsements in advertisements are truthful.
The updates include revisions such as addressing the use of incentivized reviews and an updated explanation of the “potential liability of advertisers, endorsers, and intermediaries.”
In addition to updating the guides, the FTC also released an updated frequently asked questions guidance document, which mainly addresses the disclosure of material connections. The updated version “adds specific guidance for influencers on when and how to disclose material connections across different kinds of platforms.”
The updated guidance raises potential changes in the ways businesses utilize influencers and more generally how online reviews work. The FTC’s new guidance, for example, advises influencers that they may need to use disclosure texts, such as “#ad” on multiple posts from a trip sponsored by a brand. Influencers may also need to do more than rely on disclosure tools built into social media platforms, as the tools are not standardized and may not abide completely by the FTC’s disclosure guidance for readability and placement. Additionally, influencers should not put their disclosures in a comment on a post, as opposed to in the post’s caption or media.