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 Dick's sustainability goals to how retail's reacting to the delta variant, here's our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Dick's releases a sustainable mission for its Public Lands concept
The latest news out of Dick's is the retailer's annual "Purpose Playbook," which includes goals around sustainability and diversity. This year, the sporting goods retailer highlighted that it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. It also shed some light on the upcoming Public Lands concept. That new store format, which focuses on the outdoors, will donate 1% of both in-store and online sales to conserve and increase access to public lands. The company also laid out goals to increase BIPOC representation in leadership roles by 30% and grow the number of women in store leadership positions to 40% by 2025.
Also out of Dick's this week — because the retailer is always up to something these days — is a new ad focused around the Olympics. Dubbed "There She Is," the ad follows female athletes as they train and compete, all while the song "Miss America" plays in the background. The ad is meant to "champion girls and women in sport," according to details emailed to Retail Dive, and it also seems to be an attempt to redefine what it means to be an ideal American woman.
Target's latest collaboration is with Christian Robinson
Target announced its latest design partnership this week with children's book author Christian Robinson for a limited-edition collection. It will feature over 70 items in various categories like home, apparel, and books for kids and babies. Christian Robinson for Target products will be available at Target stores and online starting Aug. 15.
The collection includes items like rugs, wall art, sweatshirts and bedding — most of which are under $25. Target has previously partnered with a number of designers for exclusive products, including Jungalow founder Justina Blakeney, and fashion designers Christopher John Rogers and Alexis Barbara Isaias.
Walmart to cover cost of tuition and books for employees
Walmart — the country's largest private employer — earlier this week committed to covering the cost of tuition and books for associates through its Live Better U program. The program, which launched in 2018, offered 50 programs for associates and cost $1 a day. With Tuesday's announcement, Walmart has eliminated that fee, making 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam's Club employees eligible to pursue college degrees or learn trade skills "without the burden of education debt," the company said. The mass merchant also announced it has added four academic partners, bringing its total to 10.
"We are creating a path of opportunity for our associates to grow their careers at Walmart, so they can continue to build better lives for themselves and their families," said Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart. "This investment is another way we can support our associates to pursue their passion and purpose while removing the barriers that too often keep adult working learners from obtaining degrees."
The company said over 52,000 associates have participated in its education program and 8,000 have graduated.
Dolly Parton's Scent from Above
Not only did Dolly Parton help fund the Moderna vaccine, she's trying to make us smell better when we work our 9 to 5s.
Parton this week announced her first venture into fragrance in partnership with Scent Beauty. The new product is called Scent from Above because Parton loves puns and is a queen and don't debate her on it because she is a living legend. The scent contains notes of peony blossoms, jasmine, vanilla, sandalwood, musk and patchouli.
"I call my Dolly perfume 'Scent from Above' because it is excellently heavenly. I hope you feel as blessed and as pretty as I do when you wear it," said Parton in a statement.
HSN exclusively launched the fragrance on Wednesday, but a release to mass market retailers will follow. Additional products including a body cream are to come.
A holey unasked for product launch from Crocs
If Crocs, the company that practically defined ugly shoes, reporting surging revenue in Q2 wasn't a bad enough sign for humanity's style, there is now one more thing to judge other people for wearing. Crocs has launched socks. Flying in the face of all reason — which Crocs is particularly good at through questionable (and somehow extremely popular?) collaborations with the likes of Balenciaga and KFC — the company's new line encourages customers to wear socks with its traditional holey clogs. Just like its shoes themselves, the socks are full of out-there designs and details, including marble and camouflage.
The company certainly knows its customer because Chief Marketing Officer Heidi Cooley said that "Croc Nation has been confidently rocking their Crocs with socks for years now." For firmly no-socks-with-sandals people, this news is an all-around loss. The company also encourages consumers to wear socks with its flip-flops, which is still a bad combination no matter how many times celebrities tell us it's cool.
What we're still thinking about
That is how much store space could go toward online fulfillment in the coming years, according to a study by Edge by Ascential. The same study found store fulfillment services are on pace to reach $140.96 billion by 2024. In the nearer term, retailers are bracing for fulfilling products any way they can. UPS is projecting shipping demand during peak season this year will exceed capacity by 5 million packages a day.
Last year, Target's hometown of Minneapolis became ground zero in the conversation around race, policing and inequality after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. After pledging to diversify its ranks in 2020, the company this week reported a 25% increase in Black representation at the officer level since 2020. Currently, people of color make up half of Target's team members and 25% of the leadership team.
Sephora also reported progress on diversity initiatives. The beauty retailer said it was on track to double the number of Black-owned brands in its assortment by the end of 2021.
What we're watching
How retail responds to the delta variant
A change in mask-wearing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was announced this week in response to rising concern about the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19. Wearing masks became controversial in 2020, and the enforcement of rules sometimes put retail workers in precarious positions.
The National Retail Federation responded by stating public health and safety is the top priority for retailers of all sizes. "We want every business to remain open, we want to keep people employed, and we want to ensure that consumers have access to the goods and services they expect and need," the group said in a statement.
Other areas of potential impact for businesses are wavering consumer confidence and ongoing supply chain friction, especially heading into the fourth quarter.