Morning Brew - ☕ Circular logic

Why retailers still stick with print circulars.
November 16, 2022

Retail Brew


Welcome to Wednesday. For all our fearless readers who endured hours of Ticketmaster queuing to secure Taylor Swift tickets yesterday, we know the struggle all too well. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones, hopefully you can shake it off.

In today’s edition:

—Andrew Adam Newman, Jeena Sharma, Erin Cabrey


Infrequent flyer

A collage of newspaper circulars. NoDerog/Getty Images

Let us harken back to a time long, long ago, when “apps” referred only to the mozzarella sticks and potato skins the server brought before the entrée, and the only way you were being tracked was if you were wearing an ankle monitor. In those halcyon days, an essential way that retailers piqued shoppers’ interest in upcoming sales was the weekly advertising circular they inserted into the local newspaper.

Recently, though, print circulars have taken their lumps:

  • Walgreens began to phase out its print circular in 2020 and reportedly transitioned to a digital-only version of its weekly ad circular a year later.
  • Target followed by going to a digital-only circular in 2021, as did CVS in 2022.

But don’t write the obituary yet. The weekly circular, like the paperback novel and the vinyl album—quaint artifacts to some, irreplaceable to others—has its fans among retailers and consumers. The future may be digital, they say, but print still has its place.

Old money: Edgar Dworsky, a longtime consumer advocate, lawyer, and publisher of Consumer World, worries that when print circulars disappear, it’s older consumers who take it on the chin.

“Not everyone has internet access to be able to review circulars” when they are online-only, Dworsky told us. “Without the tools, the senior who might [have] lower income potentially, or diminished income compared to their working life, might be interested in finding out what’s on sale and saving some money. And to the extent they’re not able to, I think that’s a detriment for them.”

Keep reading here.—AAN



Black Friday approacheth


As Black Friday and Cyber Monday loom in the not-so-distant distance, you need insight into shoppers’ buying behaviors. Wunderkind’s 2022 Consumer Insights Report explores how recent, uh, events have affected the way consumers interact with brands. Hint: It’s complicated.

The 2022 Consumer Insights Report takes a deep dive into what consumers value heading into the biggest shopping days of the year. Here’s what matters most:

  • Flexible payment plans such as buy now, pay later are popular with nearly half of US consumers, especially in times of economic uncertainty.
  • Online shopping is still huge this holiday season, with 71% of consumers planning to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals online.
  • Brand values like sustainability, fair wages, and diversity are more important than ever in consumer buying decisions.

Be prepared for this season’s highs and lows. Get the report here.


Singled out

Tom Cruise in Top Gun GIF Giphy

Alibaba’s hugely anticipated annual Singles Day sales this year elicited a lot of predictions. But as observers keenly awaited results to see if their predictions were indeed right, and Alibaba for the first time in 14 years (wait for it) refused to disclose full sales figures.

While Alibaba said that gross merchandise sales for the annual unofficial holiday and shopping season that celebrates people not in relationships were “in line with last year’s GMV performance despite macro challenges and Covid-related impact,” it pretty much stayed mum on the rest.

  • For context, Alibaba notched $84.5 billion in sales last year during Singles Day, an 8.5% increase from 2020.

Naturally, speculation was rife about the motivation behind keeping the sales figures a secret this year. China’s unstable economic climate is a prime one, plus government regulations around tech and livestreaming could further hamper growth.

Recent and recurring lockdowns in China have not only impacted the bottom line of several local as well as international retailers, but also contributed to declining consumer confidence, Deborah Weinswig, CEO and founder of Coresight Research, told Retail Brew in an email. “Given China’s weak retail sales this year, unrelenting zero-Covid policy, and the uncertain macroeconomic environment, [Singles Day] festival growth could slow as consumers are more cautious about making discretionary purchases,” she said.

Final word: Singles Day has also evolved from an actual single day of sales to over two weeks of promotional campaigns and deep discounts which, per Weinswig, makes it “difficult to compare year over year growth.”

Keep reading here.—JS



Coworking with Brian Moore

Coworking with Brian Moore Brian Moore

On Wednesdays, we wear pink spotlight Retail Brew’s readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Click here to introduce yourself.

Brian Moore began his 10+ year retail career at Ikea during his undergrad years before he transitioned into retail banking with Wells Fargo and PNC Mortgage. He then jumped into product management at Home Depot and, last year, landed at Macy’s Technology, where he’s led its foundational team for a new internal colleague tool.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in retail? The middle man between business and technology.

One thing we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile? I am Mr. Analytics for all future store apps for Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Macy’s Backstage.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on? Having employees across the US hear my voice in their Theatro devices to ask them questions.

Which emerging retail trend are you most excited about this year, and why? Self-checkout without tapping a card and leaving the store.

What’s your go-to coffee order? Grande iced caramel latte with cream and sugar.

Worst piece of advice you’ve received? Wait for the opportunity to come to you.

What was your favorite retail product when you were 15, and what’s your favorite retail product now? A Samsung flip phone and my PS5.




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Today’s top retail reads.

Private mode: Thanks to inflation, private-label products are picking up steam at c-stores, outpacing sales of national brands during the first three quarters of the year. (C-Store Dive)

Bejeweled: Eric Ryan, co-founder of Method, Olly, and Welly, is making his first move outside of CPG with his latest venture, DTC jewelry brand Cast. “I always want to go out and do something I’ve never done before,” he said. “That’s the only way to find out what you’re capable of.” (Inc.)

Playing ketchup: When CEO Miguel Patricio joined Kraft Heinz in 2019, its legacy brands were nothing new. But some unique marketing efforts—like a Velveeta martini—have gotten consumers talking. (CNN)

Calling all marketers: You’re asked a lot of questions: Do podcast ads work? How did those brands get into Stranger Things? What social platforms should we advertise on? Thankfully, Marketing Brew is here to help with the answers.

*This is sponsored advertising content.

Listen to ‘Behind the Numbers: Reimagining Retail’

Listen to ‘Behind the Numbers: Reimagining Retail’

Examining retail’s convergence with every part of our lives, the Reimagining Retail podcast discusses the most interesting aspects of retail and e-commerce. Every Wednesday, host Sara Lebow and Insider Intelligence’s retail analysts break down the most important trends and insights you need to know.

Listen now


  • The US Commerce Department reported retail sales rose 1.3% in October, the most they’ve increased in eight months.
  • Target said it plans to cut $3 billion in costs over the next three years after its profit dipped ~50% in Q3.
  • Ahold Delhaize USA CEO Kevin Holt will step down in April.
  • Sam’s Club has undercut Costco’s classic $1.50 hot-dog-and-drink deal, dropping its price for $1.38.
  • Restaurant Brands, the parent of Burger King, has tapped former Domino’s Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle as its executive chairman.
  • Estée Lauder is buying the Tom Ford brand in a $2.8 billion deal.
  • Flamingo Estate, a Los Angeles-based agricultural, wellness, and home goods-focused retailer, and recently the site of photographer Annie Leibovitz’s upcoming Vogue cover shoot with Jennifer Lopez, has partnered with HBO’s Sesame Street to sell branded T-shirts and sweatshirts for the holidays, including one that proclaims “I 🤍 trash.”


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Written by Andrew Adam Newman, Jeena Sharma, and Erin Cabrey

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