The world’s largest retailer believes shopping has changed forever: Morning Brief [Video]

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

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‘We’re convinced that most of the behavior change will persist beyond the pandemic.’

Investors got two key pieces of retail data on Tuesday morning.

Early Tuesday, Walmart (WMT) released its third quarter results.

And this report outlined how resilient consumers have remained through the fall and also why pandemic-related changes to shopping habits are likely to stick around.

The company reported U.S. comp sales rose 6.4% during the third quarter, with most of this gain coming from e-commerce. Walmart said in its quarterly report that e-commerce — where revenues grew 79% in the third quarter — was responsible for 5.7% of this increase. Both online sales and orders placed online for in-store pickup are included in Walmart’s e-commerce bucket.

“Changes in customer behavior have accelerated the shift to e-commerce and digital,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said on the company’s conference call.

“We were well positioned to catch and ride these waves given our previous work and investments. Our e-commerce and omni-channel penetration continue to rise, accelerating trends by 2 to 3 years in some cases. We’re convinced that most of the behavior change will persist beyond the pandemic.”

A big part of this new behavior is the consolidation of trips, whether these are to Walmart stores or any other. Average ticket sizes at Walmart rose 24% in the quarter while the number of transactions fell 14%.

And so the the rise of online and hybrid orders is serving as a boost to the company’s top line and creates the impetus for a further investment in keeping these sorts of behaviors in place. McMillon says the company is convinced many of these new shopping habits will last past the pandemic. But it’s also in the company’s interest to make this habit as attractive as possible for customers.

“When a customer shops [in-store] and online, they spend about twice as much, and they spend more in-store,” McMillon said on the call. “Those are pre-pandemic stats, we’re not updating those at this moment. But it is important to remember, once [customers are] engaged in the digital relationship and they’re shopping [with] us holistically like that, the value of that customer relationship goes up.”

The company’s new Walmart+ program aimed to take on Amazon’s Prime service is the natural outgrowth of these sorts of consumer trends. The pandemic also created the conditions for customers to more quickly — and en masse — try out new habits the entire retail sectors had touted for the better part of the last decade.

So while the eventual direction of retail’s modern form has been clear for some time, no retailer with the resources of a Walmart or a Target (TGT) or an Amazon (AMZN) is going to let this moment pass without helping customers permanently embed these new habits in their routine.

And the latest retail sales data from the government published Tuesday also shows

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How Chancellor Angela Merkel Changed Fashion Politics

At least something thrived in 2020. As women leaders take centerstage, historians will note this year as a breakthrough for fashion politics. In a US election year media focuses on the sartorial legacy of an outgoing First Lady. While Melania Trump is no exception, there have been plenty of fascinating style milestones in high offices around the world. Slovakian president Zuzana Čaputová became the first in Europe to conduct official ceremonies in a mask matching her outfit. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern drew nearly universal praise for her fashion choices and her leadership style in combating coronavirus. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin sparked a rare controversy in liberally-minded Scandinavia over her “topless” photoshoot. Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continued to reign over Washington with her haircare, nails and lipstick making international headlines. Fashion and politics have finally made peace!

Margaret Thatcher is often credited with a kind of fashion revolution in politics. Her signature tweed skirt suits, a string of pearls as a business accessory, and a wind-proof hairstyle shaped public idea of a Woman-in-Charge for decades. “I stand before you in my Red Star chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up and my fair hair gently waved, the Iron Lady of the Western world.” While the former British Prime Minister has her place in the Power Style Pantheon, it is time to give credit where else credit is overdue… Her international political reputation is impeccable and with a healthy 1.5 million following on Instagram, she is a bona fide global style influencer in her own right. Meet Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany.

When Merkel took office in 2005, she relied on her academia-friendly sense of style shaped by years of teaching quantum chemistry at a university. In early professional years she appeared rooted in safe non-aesthetics. She navigated another male dominated field with a seeming ease. The professorial vibe was strong. By 2015, she perfected her trouser suit looks combining male dress codes with fashionable color choices. Many remember the iconic G7 protocol photograph from the Bavarian Alps: a lineup of dark suits punctuated halfway with a single bright sky-blue jacket. There she was – an emblem for the new attitude of women in politics. No more conservative rules! Pragmatism is not monochrome! The Chancellor commands the entire Pantone range from pistachio to cherry red and back. 

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How Stacey Abrams, LaTosha Brown and other Black women changed the course of the 2020 election

As the 2020 presidential election comes down to the wire, it’s clear that Black women continue to be the Democratic Party’s most powerful voting group.

a close up of a person wearing a costume: Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams waits to speak at a Democratic canvass kickoff as she campaigns for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at Bruce Trent Park on October 24, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

© Provided by CNBC
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams waits to speak at a Democratic canvass kickoff as she campaigns for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at Bruce Trent Park on October 24, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Not only did 91% of Black women vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden according to NBC News exit poll results, but Black women have also been on the front lines of this year’s election, working to ensure that all eligible voters have their voices heard at the polls.


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In Georgia, Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor of the state in 2018, has been on the ground to ensure that voter suppression does not dictate the outcome of this year’s election. Two years ago, she lost the gubernatorial race by less than 55,000 votes to Georgia’s now-governor Republican Brian Kemp amid reports of voter suppression in the state. Between 2010 and 2018, it’s reported that Kemp, who served as Georgia’s secretary of state during that time, purged upwards of 1.4 million voters from the rolls, with many voter registrations being cancelled because a person did not vote in the previous election. Additionally, in 2018, 53,000 people had their registrations moved to “pending” because of the state’s “exact match” law, which requires handwritten voter registrations to be identical to an individual’s personal documents, The Atlantic reported. Of those 53,000, more than 80% of those registrations belonged to Black voters.

Stacey Abrams looking at the camera: Representative Stacey Abrams speaks onstage at the National Town Hall on the second day of the 48th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on September 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.

© Provided by CNBC
Representative Stacey Abrams speaks onstage at the National Town Hall on the second day of the 48th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on September 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.

In a 2019 Vogue profile titled, “Can Stacey Abrams Save American Democracy?” Abrams told the magazine that after her 2018 loss she “sat shiva for 10 days” and then she “started plotting.”

Part of that plotting consisted of her starting a voting rights organization called Fair Fight, which continued and expanded the work of the New Georgia Project she started at the end of 2013 that focused exclusively on increasing voter registration. This time, with Fair Fight, Abrams and her team focused on increasing voter participation, as well as education about elections and voter rights.

As a result of these efforts, it’s estimated that more than 800,000 new people have registered to vote in Georgia since 2018, with Abrams telling NPR that 45% of these new voters are under the age of 30 and 49% are people of color. In addition, Abrams tells NPR that she and her team were able to get rid of the “exact match” policy before the 2020 election.

Similar to Abrams, LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund which works to increase voter registration and turnout and expand voting rights policies, used an election loss to fuel her desire to create change. In 1998, Brown ran

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A rapist who terrorized Del Mar got 326 years in prison. The law changed and now he’s up for parole

Before he attacked them, the stranger would follow his victims to their Del Mar homes. He would return later to sneak in through an unlocked door, grab the victim from behind, press a cold blade to her throat.

The ambushes started in 1993. Over three years, seven women were attacked. Five were sexually assaulted.

All of the victims were alone in their homes, and some were fresh out of the shower when he confronted them. Most were threatened at knifepoint and tied up. One was badly beaten, her hair pulled out.

It ended in 1996. As the stranger fled, his last victim screamed and chased him until others jumped in and tackled the assailant: Robert Rustad, a 22-year-old MiraCosta College student and Del Mar resident.

Rustad pleaded guilty to three dozen crimes, including rape. He was sentenced to 326 years to life in prison.

On Wednesday, after 24 years in custody, Rustad has his first shot at parole.

Rustad qualifies for a parole hearing because the law has changed since he went to prison in 1997. It now takes into account a person’s age at the time of their offense. Rustad was young — in his case, between the ages of 19 and 22 — when he committed the crimes.

The law change means young offenders get a shot at parole after serving 25 years in prison. That includes murderers.

However, that same law excluded those convicted under a one-strike sex offense law, as Rustad was. Then last year, an appellate court found that exclusion was unconstitutional. While legal wrangling continues, Rustad gets the hearing.

Two of his victims believe he remains a threat. One called the parole hearing “an injustice.”

“I was assured that I would never have to be concerned that he could hurt me or anyone else ever again,” the victim, who asked not to be named, said in an email Tuesday.

The Union-Tribune does not name the victims of sexual assault without their permission.

Another victim, who also asked not to be identified, said Rustad is “dangerous.”

“This is not about him paying for what he did or punishment,” she said Tuesday. “This is about keeping the community safe. We know what this guy did.”

News of his potential parole, she said, had her on “an emotional rollercoaster … almost like the day he burst in … and grabbed me.”

Rustad’s attorney, Jared Eisenstat, noted in an email Tuesday that his client pleaded guilty before trial, and also revealed to authorities more information about his crimes than they knew.

Eisenstat also said the way a brain changes into adulthood makes it reasonable consider a person’s youth as a factor in a crime. In addition, he said, Rustad has gained insight into his crimes and feels “genuine remorse.”

Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs balked at the notion that Rustad has taken responsibility for “cold-blooded and premeditated” crimes.

He said Rustad “inflicted terror,” stalking some of his victims and threatening to kill them if they didn’t comply with

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The Field: Why Suburban Women Changed Their Minds

In America’s increasingly divided political landscape, it can be hard to imagine almost any voter switching sides. One demographic group has provided plenty of exceptions: white suburban women.

In the past four years, the group has turned away from the president in astonishing numbers. And many of them are organizing — Red, Wine and Blue is a group made up of suburban women from Ohio hoping to swing the election for Joe Biden. The organization draws on women who voted for the president and third parties in 2016, as well as existing Democratic voters.

“Their voices were so interesting because they were not just your typical political activist,” said the group’s founder, Katie Paris, an Ohioan who worked in politics in Washington. “I thought they’re really relatable. That moms could connect with their stories.”

In today’s episode, Lisa Lerer, who covers campaigns, elections and political power for The New York Times, speaks to white suburban women on the ground in Ohio and explores their shifting allegiances and values.

INSIDE ‘THE DAILY’ For an exclusive look at how the biggest stories on our show come together, subscribe to our newsletter. Read the latest edition here.

Lisa Lerer contributed reporting.

“The Daily” is made by Theo Balcomb, Andy Mills, Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Wendy Dorr, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, Kelly Prime, Sindhu Gnanasambandan, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Neena Pathak, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Hans Buetow, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Bianca Giaever, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi and Rachelle Bonja. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Mikayla Bouchard, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Nora Keller, Sofia Milan and Desiree Ibekwe.

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How COVID-19 changed this U.S. clothing manufacturer

Like many companies, Lefty Production Co. made a big pivot in March. As stay-at-home orders went into effect, the garment and accessories production company remained essential by producing masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment.

“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal talked with Marta Miller, Lefty Production Co.’s co-founder and CEO, about what the pandemic has meant for companies that make clothes in America. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.  

Ryssdal: So there you are, in February, March of this year doing your thing, and then the pandemic starts rolling across the globe. What does that do to Lefty Production Co.?

“We need masks”

Miller: It was the craziest time. I mean, every time I opened my computer, it was like, “Let’s put a halt on that, you know, can I get my deposit back? We don’t want this stuff anymore.” Also, we ultimately sew. And in manufacturing, social distancing is pretty tough. And so while all these orders were canceling, I remember watching the news and New York was saying, “We need masks, we need masks.” And my husband and I started getting on the phone and trying to figure out like, all right, we can sew. So we started just beginning to create the masks.

Marta Miller, the CEO and Co-Founder of Lefty Production Co. in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Ira Joffe, courtesy of Marta Miller)
“We’ve been seeing this need for American manufacturing to come back for a while now,” says Marta Miller, co-founder of Lefty Production Co. (Photo by Ira Joffe, courtesy of Marta Miller)

Ryssdal: The thing is, though, you’re making stuff in LA, but you now have relocated your family to Texas. So you’re running this company remotely?

Miller: Completely. Yeah.

Ryssdal: Talk to me about the CEO challenges there, boss.

Miller: It’s funny, I am a mom of two, and I would say, [in] 2019, the largest conversation that my husband and I had was how do we get me out of the day to day? And I think every single member of my team would tell you that the company runs so much better with me a little bit distanced from it. It’s just been the biggest COVID silver lining.

Ryssdal: So let me ask you to pull back for a minute, because you’re down in the weeds of American manufacturing, and I’d love your perspective, I guess, on how you see this having changed or changing American manufacturing. Because you know, you’re a good example, right? You pivoted and now you’re doing this thing, and you’ve moved, and the company is still thriving.

Miller: You know, we’ve been seeing this need for American manufacturing to come back for a while now, mainly because retail has changed. You know, it’s easier to go overseas, when you’re producing five, ten thousand units of something. When you want to make five hundred units of something, being overseas just doesn’t really make sense anymore. With the tariffs — I mean, the dollars stop working for you. When we have Barney’s going bankrupt, when we have these big stores not placing as large of volumes and

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How The Pandemic Has Changed Grocery Shopping

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused chaos for much of American retailing, and the grocery store industry is no exception.

A new report from, which studies retail foot traffic, has found what it calls “fundamental and unprecedented changes” in grocery shopping habits.

The report looked at 15 different grocery store chains, from giants such as Walmart and Kroger, to specialty ones like Trader Joe and Whole Foods.

Shopping days. Most noticeable, says the report, is that consumers are returning to a time when Sunday was reserved for activities other than driving from store to store.

In 2019, Sunday was the busiest grocery shopping day of the week, with 17.4 percent of shoppers picking up food and other items to start the week.

Now, only 15.7 percent of shoppers are going out on Sundays to shop for food. By contrast, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday have all seen year-over-year increases in grocery shopping, with Saturday now the most popular shopping day.

“As the number of people working from home has risen during the pandemic, the ability to shop during the week has grown,” the report says.

“It appears many consumers are showing a preference for leaving Sundays for other activities, and finding time for supermarket visits on other days — a trend that could have wider impacts over time.”

Early over late. Grocery shopping hours also have changed during the pandemic. Many stores have set aside the first period of the morning for seniors and health-challenged shoppers, a tactic that has received a strong response.

“In 2020, a substantial number of shoppers were arriving earlier than they had in 2019,” the report found.

Each of the morning hours between 7 am and noon saw increases of one to two percent compared with last year. Moreover, the most popular shopping hour moved down by 60 minutes, from 5 pm to 4 pm, found.

By contrast, evening shopping hours are less popular. In 2019, five percent of grocery shoppers arrived between 8 pm and 9 pm. In 2020, only 3.5 percent of shoppers came at that time.

That may reflect shorter shopping hours at some stores, as well as fewer people going to offices, and then to gyms or out to eat afterwards before they shop.

Mission-driven shopping. Another major change has come in the frequency of visits to stores and the amount of time shoppers spend in a store.

While this varied by grocery store chain, found that shoppers overwhelmingly were reducing their number of visits, but spending more time in the store on each visit.

Of the 10 chains it surveyed, it found more-frequent visits at only two, Publix and Winn-Dixie, whose stores are mainly found in the southern U.S.

Meanwhile, the average shopping time was up the most at Walmart
and Kroger
, where visitors spent nine percent more time in the store.

“Essentially, consumers were

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