Morning Brew - ☕ Schick happens

In DC, Giant Food bans large knapsacks and duffel bags to combat shoplifting
June 03, 2024

Retail Brew

Contentful

It’s Monday, and while we don’t get to report much good news related to inflation, here’s a glimmer: The CFO of Costco recently assured Wall Street analysts that the “price is safe” for its famous $1.50 hot-dog-and-soda combo. That price has been in place since 1985 when a hamburger at McDonald’s cost 50 cents (and today costs between $2 and $3).

In today’s edition:

—Andrew Adam Newman, Erin Cabrey, Alex Vuocolo

STORES

Nixed bag

The exterior of a Giant Food grocery store. Giant Food

Thanks to retailers’ growing concerns about shoplifting, stores increasingly resemble claw machines, where what you want is on the other side of the glass and only time will tell whether someone shows up to unlock the NyQuil cabinet before your flu symptoms disappear.

Now Giant Food stores in Washington, DC, are introducing another measure to combat sticky fingers: Banning large bags.

While reusable shopping totes are still permissible, the ban covers closed bags like knapsacks and duffels larger than 14” x 14” x 6”, according to signs in Giant stores in the DC area.

“Giant Food initiated a new policy at select stores that are experiencing high shrink to mitigate the unprecedented levels of product theft that have become unsustainable for our business,” according to a statement from the chain in DC News Now. “The retail theft we are experiencing…limits product availability, creates a less convenient shopping experience, and, most critically, puts our associates and customers in harm’s way.”

Schick happens: In September, Giant Food announced that at one of its DC locations, on Alabama Avenue SE, it was removing frequently shoplifted items from its shelves, including Tide detergent, Schick razor blades, and Dove soap, and replacing them with products from its private label, CareOne.

Other supermarkets in the city have introduced their own anti-theft measures.

Harris Teeter told the Washington Post that it prohibited suitcases, roller bags, and large backpacks from some locations, and was checking shoppers’ receipts as they exited stores.

The Post also reported that some Safeways in DC had installed electronic gates that prevent customers from exiting unless they have a receipt.

   

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E-COMMERCE

Linking up

Linktree social commerce Linktree

If you head to the social media profile bios of Selena Gomez, Robert Downey Jr., or even the President of the United States, you’ll see a link to Linktree, the link-in-bio tool employed by 50 million users that allows them to consolidate a slew of links into just one.

But more and more, the tool is being utilized by content creators, particularly on TikTok, as a “viral army of Get Ready With Me girlies,” has been driving commerce, Lara Cohen, VP of partners and business development at Linktree, told Retail Brew, influencing consumers to buy the products these use across beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. The company said it sees 240 million commerce clicks monthly, accounting for $300 million in spend, and produces a 50% higher conversion rate than the e-commerce industry average. It also accounts for 2% of Amazon’s storefront traffic.

Cohen calls the link in bio space “the most valuable real estate on the internet,” and now Linktree, originally created to support musical artists who had multiple projects to promote, is leaning into this commerce use. It’s introducing a storefront offering allowing creators to sell products directly from their Linktree, helping “cut down on friction,” Cohen said, as the company partners with brands and retailers catering to Gen Z shoppers with viral products.

Social ladder: According to Linktree’s 2023 Creator Report, links to shopping platforms Shopify and Spring on Linktree have garnered 38 million clicks since 2022. And with one-third of US shoppers saying creators influence their buying decisions, per Deloitte, Linktree is working to make those purchases more seamless, with the belief that fewer clicks leads to more conversions, Cohen said.

Keep reading here.EC

   

STORES

Shrink think

Pride Month Chuchart Duangdaw/Getty Images

Pride Month is now in full swing, and a number of retailers are promoting their LGBTQ+-themed merchandise. But as one queer executive warned, retailers should be wary of “rainbow washing” this month, and make sure they’re engaging with the LGBTQ+ community in a meaningful way—though for companies such as Target, even the bare minimum has proven controversial.

Here’s what else is going on in retail this week:

In earnings: Retail earnings are still trickling out this week, with results coming from Bath & Body Works and Stitch Fix on Tuesday; Dollar Tree, Five Below, Lululemon, Victoria’s Secret, and Lovesac on Wednesday; and JM Smucker, Zumiez, and Big Lots on Thursday. Some things to keep in mind for this particular crop: Dollar Tree acquired 99 Cents Only, the regional discount chain that went bankrupt last month, and announced more corporate layoffs.

In conferences: Shrink might not be the hot-button issue it was in 2023, but the industry is still very much focused on preventing it. With that goal in mind, retailers will be gathering in Long Beach, California, from Tuesday to Thursday for the National Retail Federation’s Protect conference, which will feature a lineup of speakers and exhibitors focused on topics such as cybersecurity, theft prevention, and employee training.

In data: The monthly jobs report is due out on Friday, which in addition to the consumer price index is one of the most closely watched economic indicators for retailers. That’s because employed people tend to go shopping more than unemployed people, especially if their wages are increasing. In April, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.9%, and average hourly earnings had grown 3.9% over the previous 12 months. Employment in the retail industry specifically also trended up, adding 20,000 jobs.

In new hires: Starting today, Jordan Broggi is taking over as EVP of customer experience and president of online for Home Depot. It’s a notable hire given that the home improvement retailer’s online sales increased 2% in Q4, while online sales at rival Lowe’s remained flat.

   

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SWAPPING SKUS

Today’s top retail reads.

Fast cashin’: Shein reportedly will file a 59 billion pound IPO prospectus for the London Stock Exchange. (Sky News)

Snub hub: How Amtrak’s expanded control of Union Station in Washington, DC, is expected to reduce the role of retail there. (Washington Business Journal)

Asics instinct: How Asics “dad sneakers” styles have been a surprising hit with younger consumers. (the Wall Street Journal)

Right message, right moment: Take a look at The retail guide to composable content by Contentful to learn how a composable content platform can connect digital teams + content to boost your biz.*

*A message from our sponsor.

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