Retail Roundup | April 2023
As a retail technology company obsessed with data, we at Tillerman are constantly looking at the trends and forecasts shaping the retail industry broadly. The start of 2022 continued to bring challenges with supply chain issues, inflation and of course Omicron having an impact, but there were bright spots as well. Heres a roundup of some of the retail stories that caught our eye this month.

We'll kick off April with a piece about Tillerman Insight, our new interactive dashboard tool that is getting a great reaction and already delivering benefits across a number of our clients. Also in April, NRF predicted a total retail increase of 4-6% for 2023. While the expectation is for unemployment to increase, the consumer's resilience, so far, is shining through.

Nordstrom made news by hiring Jason Morris as their new Chief Technology Officer. He will be focusing on making advances in RFID and customer engagement, among many other initiatives. On the topic of RFID, the WSJ had an interesting article on retailers expanding its use, which is helping improve customer experience, on-line fulfillment and contributing to sales growth. It's making more sense as technology has improved, and chip costs have come way down. Sticking with technology, Zalando announced that they are rolling ChatGPT into their search function allowing a more conversational interaction with the consumer. They are rolling this out while cutting their corporate workforce.

There were a couple of bankruptcy filings with the unsurprising news that Bed Bath and Beyond has filed for bankruptcy protection. The company will be liquidating its namesake stores as well as Buy Buy Baby. David's Bridal also filed for bankruptcy, and while they are not in liquidation mode, part of the go-forward plan includes laying off a significant chunk of their workforce which has started in the corporate office and will continue through May. S&P downgraded Kohls from BB+ to BB which is considered a junk rating. The news from retailers was not all bad, though, with Macy's receiving a thumbs up from Wall Street who thinks the five pillars of their growth plan-off-mall store expansion, digital marketplace, luxury brands, private brands and personalization-will mean positive long term results.

The state of brick and mortar remains a point of interest with the liquidation of Bed Bath and Beyond stores creating a big opportunity for growing retailers including; off price, grocery and drug stores. Additionally, traditional mall based stores like Macy's who are expanding into off mall formats. WWD is reporting that March foot traffic was up 15-30% over the prior year depending on the mall format. A self-acknowledged reversal of their pandemic reporting on the death of B&M.

BOF reported on the challenge in an inflationary market to control costs and conserve cash, highlighting some strategies successful brands are using to look for efficiency and cost savings. On that topic, some retailers, including Amazon, are starting to charge for returns. While limited, it will be interesting to see how wide this practice grows. Lastly, Walmart is focusing on Supply Chain improvements to boost operating capital in part by taking advantage of the fact that they have stores that are within 10 miles of 90% of American households.

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