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5
Dec-18
Wednesday

Clothing is back in fashion for the holidays

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CNBC reported that this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping extravaganza indicated that there will be a lot more sweaters and coats under the tree this year. Spending on apparel was up 5.4% over Black Friday weekend, the best growth since 2011, according to consulting firm Customer Growth Partners. Shoppers are turning up at specialty apparel chains such as Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch, Old Navy, and Urban Outfitters. But not all retailers will benefit from the trend with department store chains still struggling to keep inventories in check.

Marriott data breach impacts 500m

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My Business reported that, in a statement on its website dated 30 November 2018, US-headquartered Marriott International revealed that its Starwood reservation database had been compromised, with as many as 500 million people worldwide affected. Marriott said that its investigations remain ongoing to determine the exact number of hotel guests who may have been impacted by the breach. However, the anticipated scale of affected customers dwarfs that of the 9.4 million passengers exposed by a data breach that hit airline Cathay Pacific in October. This just reaffirms our position that cybersecurity must sit at the core of Loss Prevention in a retail enterprise. Cybersecurity cannot be left to IT, it requires a specialised focus as retail becomes ever more entwined with digital.

Tech giants under EU spotlight

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Reuters reported that Google, Amazon, Apple, and other tech giants face one of their biggest challenges this week as a key EU lawmaking committee prepares to take a tough stance on legislation designed to curb their power. In a bid to ensure a level playing field between the tech companies and bricks-and-mortar businesses, the European Commission drafted rules to prevent unfair business practices by app stores, search engines, e-commerce sites, and hotel booking websites. These include forcing search engines to provide information on how they rank products and services in internet search results. The proposal, known as the platform-to-business regulation (P2B), needs to be approved by EU countries and the European Parliament before it can become law.
4
Dec-18
Tuesday

Laura Ashley in administration for the second time in two years

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The Sydney Morning Herald reported that British homeware and fashion brand Laura Ashley's Australian business has gone into administration - the second time it has collapsed in two just years. The company appointed KordaMentha as voluntary administrators on Monday, which has put its 18 stores and the licence to operate the brand locally up for sale, and has started clearing stock. Laura Ashley has operated in Australia since 1971, and had 45 stores at its peak. Laura Ashley is the latest in a string of mid-size retailers to go under, including Roger David, Topshop, Rhodes & Beckett, Payless Shoes, and Maggie T.

Roger David leaves landlords with a $30m headache

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The AFR reported that thirteen shopping centre landlords have been left with a combined $30 million problem after the demise of menswear retailer Roger David. The retailer's 57 remaining stores, there were 122 Roger David stores in 2016, were all permanently shut at the end of trading hours on Sunday as the 76-year-old business was consigned to the history books. An initial assessment of the business's future lease obligations amounted to $61 million. And, it's not just major retail closures that are impacting landlords. Increasingly, retail brands are shutting underperforming stores if landlords refuse to renegotiate.

ZipAmex?

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We have noticed that Amex is attempting to enter the space populated by deferred payment providers such as Afterpay and ZipPay. Amex now offers interest-free repayments on large purchases in installments over 3 months. An interesting move, but probably too late and the question needs to be asked about its demographics - Amex operates in a somewhat different segment to Afterpay, ZipPay and all the other "Pays" in the market.
3
Dec-18
Monday

Billboards are back in vogue for brands

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The Hustle reported that despite being dismissed as irrelevant just a decade ago, today, in the midst of an online marketing boom, billboards are one of the fastest-growing ad commodities on the market. What’s driving this renewed interest? By working with digital instead of fighting against it, the billboard industry has managed to stay relevant and effective. A recent Nielsen study found that combining billboards and digital ads can lead to a 4x increase in online activation. Other studies show billboards can lead to lifts of 54% in search traffic, 38% in Facebook interaction, 25% in Instagram engagement, and 47% in sales activation. That’s better than radio and print - and just below what you get from a TV ad, for the fraction of the price. Billboards are one of the few mediums with some assurance you have the audience’s attention. Given that every retail storefront is essentially a branded billboard, this trend is important to note.      

Consumer spending key for economists

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The AFR reported that economists are awaiting indications that wage growth has ticked higher in the second half of the year, with consumer spending set to be the key focus when Australia's third-quarter GDP figures are released on Wednesday. GDP growth for the three months ending September is set to be just slightly weaker than the previous quarter at 0.6%, according to market consensus, falling from 0.9% in June. That figure is expected to take the annualised growth to 3.3%, still well above the five-year average. Australia's wage price index rose 2.3% year-on-year in the third quarter as signs emerge that wage growth is rising.

eBay tips today for online shopping peak

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The AFR reported that eBay Australia says today will be its busiest day of the year as people begin their gift shopping in earnest, with an estimated 2.6 million visitors predicted on the site. The busiest hour is expected between 8pm and 9pm - when dinner is over and Australians are settled down with their devices - with the most manic 15 minutes of 2018 anticipated to come between 8.30pm and 8.45pm. More than three-quarters of visitors will be shopping on mobile devices. Past trends suggest consumers will be thinking of their children first, with a toy predicted to be sold every three seconds. But, fear not, as they won't be neglecting their own Christmas cheer, with a bottle of alcohol forcast to be sold every 42 seconds.
30
Nov-18
Friday

Myer board face strike over pay

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The AFR reported that Solomon Lew is expected to deliver a second "strike" over pay at Myer's annual meeting today, but the besieged retailer is likely to avoid a spill of their board. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is understood to be examining two letters from Mr Lew to Myer shareholders which the board  questioned. Speaking after the Premier Investments AGM on Thursday, Mr Lew repeated his criticism of Myer's board. Myer were recently forced into a trading halt to announce their sales figures for the first quarter had declined by 4.8%, after information was leaked to The Australian Financial Review.

Amazon undercuts Woolworths and Coles on household staples

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The AFR reported that Amazon has launched an assault on Australia's $100 billion food and grocery market, prompting complaints from Woolworths that multinational suppliers are favouring the e-commerce giant with lower prices. After stepping up pressure on Woolworths and Coles by adding food and beverages to its non-food pantry range last month, Amazon Australia is now undercutting the dominant supermarket chains by as much as 50% on household staples. Woolworths, which accounts for about 38% of the food and grocery market, plans to seek a "please explain" from suppliers, threatening to remove underperforming brands from its shelves. It seems to us like Woolworths' reaction is exactly the PR Amazon was seeking.
29
Nov-18
Thursday

Celebrity and ethical brands upend US$52 billion beauty industry

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The Wall Street Journal reported that independent cosmetic companies such as Anastasia Beverly Hills Inc., Glossier Inc., Kylie Cosmetics and Milk Makeup are among dozens of brands wooing millennials and younger consumers away from traditional beauty companies. These retailers are giving the industry a makeover by offering a more diverse range of natural products and by using celebrity founders, such as Kylie Jennier, and social media to engage consumers. The results are significant: independent makeup brands' sales grew 24% in 2017, compared with the market average of 5.9%, according to research.