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News Briefs

  • 4/12/2024

    Mastercard SpendingPulse: March retail sales rise across channels

    MasterCard SpendingPulse

    New data from Mastercard shows that consumers increased year-over-year (YoY) spending in stores and online during March 2024.

    According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, total U.S. retail sales (excluding automotive) were up YoY in March 2024, showing showing continued growth for both online (+6.1%) and in-store (+2.6%) retail sales.

    Examining individual retail verticals, Mastercard SpendingPulse found that total apparel sales climbed 5.4% year-over-year, led by robust e-commerce growth which was up +16.1% for the month. The top growth vertical for the month was electronics, with overall sales increasing 8.7% from March 2023.

    However, the analysis found that some sectors that are more closely related to the housing market, such as home improvement (-2.9%) and home furniture & furnishings (-8.3%) continue to lag in terms of YoY growth. 

    Michelle Meyer, chief economist at the Mastercard Economics Institute, emailed commentary on the month’s retail sales performance to Chain Store Age. 

    "Consumer spending accelerated in March with gains in apparel as consumers refreshed their spring wardrobe," Meyer said in the email. "We also continued to see e-commerce growth, underscoring how consumers value convenience and are searching across channels for promotions."

    New findings from the CNBC/National Retail Federation (NRF) Retail Monitor align with Mastercard SpendingPulse, indicating that total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were up 0.36% seasonally adjusted month-over-month (MoM) and up 2.72% unadjusted YoY in March. 

    Editor’s Note: Mastercard SpendingPulse reflects nominal spending and is not adjusted for inflation.

  • 4/12/2024

    Pet Valu optimizes omnichannel pricing and promotions planning

    Pet Valu logo

    A leading Canadian pet food and supplies retailer is maximizing visibility into pricing and promotions data.

    Pet Valu is deploying Relex specialized technology to optimize the pricing and promotions planning processes the retailer utilizes across its more than 780 retail locations and digital channels. The retailer seeks to better anticipate shifts in customer demand and also integrate and market newly acquired products more efficiently and effectively.

    Relex implementation partner Logic will provide program management, change management and data integration services.

    "As we commence the transformation of our merchandising systems, we believe there is an opportunity to enhance the way we design, execute and measure the effectiveness of pricing and promotions," said Kendalee MacKay, chief merchandising officer at Pet Valu. "We believe Relex’s solutions will enable us to create innovative, insight-driven strategies that continuously improve our projected outcomes."

    "Promotions and price planning is a critical task for any retailer – and the pet supply space is certainly no exception. Consumers’ needs for their four-legged family members are continually changing, and Relex can help Pet Valu understand and plan for those demand shifts," said Keith Adams, senior VP of North America, Relex Solutions. 

    "We are excited to be selected by Pet Valu for this implementation," said Andy Winans, chief client officer, Logic. "We will leverage our deep knowledge of the pet industry, our expertise in pricing and promotions, and experience deploying the solutions that Relex provides."

    [Read more: Lowe’s plans seasonal inventory with Relex AI]

  • 4/11/2024

    Gen Z visits to pet retailers rise, while Millennial visits dip

    Gen Z pet owner

    As Gen Z consumers age, their impact on the pet industry is beginning to be felt.

    According to data from geospatial insights company Pass_by, Gen Z is driving traffic to major brick-and-mortar pet retailers, while Millennials are visiting physical pet stores less frequently than they did in 2019. 

    PetSmart saw a 1.3% increase in Gen Z visits over the last five years, while Petco also benefited, seeing a 1.9% increase in Gen Z traffic since 2019. Another chain, Pet Supermarket, saw a similar increase at 1.6%.

    Meanwhile, Millennial visits to the same three retailers has decreased since 2019. Millennial visits to PetSmart dropped 6.2% since 2019. Visits to Petco fell, 6.8%, and visits to Pet Supermarket saw a 7.6% decrease over the last five years.

    "As Gen Z comes of age and enters their prime pet-owning years, they're bringing a new level of energy and enthusiasm to the pet retail industry," said Pass_by VP of marketing James Ewen. "While Millennials may be drifting away, savvy retailers who cater to Gen Z's unique preferences and shopping habits could be poised for a new era of growth."

    Pass_by noted that retailers should be aware of this growing cohort and their spending power, and cater to their values such as sustainability and ethical practices, digital engagement and experiential retail.

    “The influence of Gen Z on the pet retail industry is a testament to the broader shifts in consumer behavior and market dynamics,” wrote Ewen in an analysis of the data. “As retailers navigate this new landscape, the key to success lies in understanding and aligning with Gen Z’s values and preferences. Embracing this shift is not just strategic, it’s essential for retailers aiming to thrive in the rapidly changing retail ecosystem.”

  • 4/9/2024

    Chicken Salad Chick opens first company-owned store in South Carolina

    Chicken Salad Chick

    Chicken Salad Chick is continuing to grow its footprint in the Mid-Atlantic region.

    The fast-casual chicken salad chain will soon open its first company-owned store in South Carolina. The new restaurant in Aiken, located near Augusta, Ga., will be one of the first businesses to open in the redeveloped Aiken Mall site, and will welcome guests with a convenient drive-thru. Chicken Salad Chick first came to the nearby Augusta market in 2016 and has three locations in the area.

    The new restaurant will open on April 24, and the first 100 guests that morning will win free chicken salad for a year. The opening marks continued growth for Chicken Salad Chick, which is on track to open 40 stores by the end of this year, including in the new markets of New Mexico, Maryland and Fairfax County, Va.

    "Our talented Chicken Salad Chick team can't wait to open our doors and help kick off this new Aiken Towne Park development," said Scott Deviney, CEO of Chicken Salad Chick. "We are passionate about what we do, aiming to make lunch or dinner with us a highlight of our guests' day. That starts with chicken salad made from scratch and served with a smile, and it extends to our convenient drive-thru, catering options and the grab-and-go ease of our Quick Chicks. We are so grateful for our loyal fans in the Augusta area who have supported us over the past eight years, and we are excited for the opportunity to bring the Chicken Salad Chick culture of service and hospitality to Aiken." 

    Founded in 2008, Chicken Salad Chick operates more than 250 restaurants in 18 states.

  • 4/9/2024

    Lids co-founder launches online headwear platform Make My Cap

    Black baseball caps

    Glenn Campbell, co-founder of sports retailer Lids, is rolling out a new e-commerce site offering customized headwear products.

    The online platform, called Make My Cap, is designed to offer flexibility in headwear customization. The company says it will emphasize rapid delivery, craftsmanship and the option of no minimum order requirements. Make My Cap plans to serve both individual customers and large-scale corporate orders.

    On the site, customers can select from a range of styles and materials, upload their designs and place orders. According to Make My Cap, it emphasizes clear, transparent communication and attention to detail throughout the design and ordering process.

    Located in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Make My Cap uses what the company calls “strategically placed” production facilities its says will streamline production and delivery timelines.

    Campbell initially co-founded Hat World in 1995 and subsequently took over the bankrupt Lids brand, helping develop a network of 1,500 stores worldwide and nearly $1 billion in annual sales. 

    "After dedicating over 25 years to the headwear industry, launching Make My Cap feels like a natural progression,” said Campbell. “Our goal is to lead with reliability, exceptional service and quick turnaround times, setting a new benchmark in the market."

    [Read more: Lids goes old school for 20-year anniversary]

  • 4/8/2024

    Jersey Mike’s reportedly eyes $8 billion sale

    Jersey Mike's

    A popular New Jersey-based sandwich chain may be considering selling itself. 

    Jersey Mike’s Subs has been involved in “on and off” discussions about a sale to investment giant Blackstone, reported The Wall Street Journal. The deal would put the chain’s valuation at $8 billion, according to the report. 

    Based in Manasquan, N.J., Jersey Mike’s had 2,675 locations at the end of 2023, of which 2,647 were franchised. In January, the chain entered into an multi-year partnership with Redberry Restaurants to develop 300 Jersey Mike locations in Canada by 2023 through a combination of corporate and franchisee locations.

    "We couldn't be more excited about our strategic development agreement with Jersey Mike's and our role in bringing this powerful and category-dominant brand to Canada," said Gary Graves, Redberry's board chair, in a statement in January. "We were won over by the entire culture of Jersey Mike's and know that their quality brand will strongly resonate with Canadians.”

    Jersey Mike’s is the second-largest sandwich chain in the U.S., behind Subway, which was sold last year to affiliates of Roark Capital in a reported $9.6 billion deal.

    Most recently, Jersey Mike’s has been upping its game with technology, streamlining voice orders in select locations with an artificial intelligence (AI) solution from SoundHound AI. The solution answers 100% of calls and can take multiple orders at once, which frees up employees to focus on serving in-store customers and preparing food.

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