News Briefs


Home Depot tops estimates; big-ticket spending still under pressure

Home Depot exterior

The Home Depot beat Street estimates for its third-quarter but sales fell as customers steered clear of certain big-ticket items and focused on smaller projects.

On a positive note, company CFO Richard McPhail  told analysts during the chain's earnings call that "the worst of the inflationary environment is behind us."

The home improvement giant reported net income of $3.8 billion, or $3.81 a share, for the quarter ended Oct. 29, down from $4.3 billion, or $4.24 a share, in the year-ago period.   Analysts had expected earnings per share of $3.75.

Sales fell 3% to $37.7 billion, just ahead of estimates of $37.6 billion.  Same-store sales fell 3.1%, with U.S. comp sales down 3.5%. Customer transactions fell to 399.8 million from 409.8 million in the year-ago period.

"Similar to the second quarter, we saw continued customer engagement with smaller projects, and experienced pressure in certain big-ticket, discretionary categories,” stated CEO Ted Decker. “We remain very excited about our strategic initiatives and are committed to investing in the business to deliver the best interconnected shopping experience, capture wallet share with the Pro, and grow our store footprint." 

The retailer narrowed its prior fiscal 2023 guidance range. Sales and comparable sales are expected to decline between 3% and 4% compared to its previous expectation of a 2% to 5% decline. Diluted earnings-per-share-percent-are expected to decline between 9% and 11%. compared with its prior estimate of a 7% to 13% drop.

At the end of the third quarter, the company operated a total of 2,333 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico. 


Klarna launches hosted online storefronts in U.S.

Klarna Creator Shops

U.S.-based creators have a new option for directly selling products to consumers via the Klarna platform.

Klarna, which allows U.S.-based creators to promote and sell products via shoppable video, is now providing them a hosted Creator Shops offering following a successful introduction in Europe. 

The Creator Shops tool provides independent sellers the ability to launch their own storefronts on the Klarna website and technology to support e-commerce operations. As a result, consumers can find and shop creators’ product recommendations in one place. 

Through Klarna’s Creator Platform, creators can recommend products from retailers, post shoppable videos and photo content, and share links to their personal shop across their social channels. Shoppable videos uploaded to the Creator Shops page will soon also be automatically shared directly into the Klarna app, enabling creators to reach Klarna’s extended network of 27 million monthly app users.

"Building on our suite of marketing and ad solutions for retailers, Klarna’s Creator Shops and Ads Manager continue to transform the company beyond BNPL into a growth partner and retail media network within the industry,” said David Sandstrom, chief marketing officer, Klarna. “Our combined network of over one million retail partners and creators globally now have even more powerful ways to reach Klarna’s 150 million high-intent shoppers, while consumers can enjoy a more relevant and personalized shopping experience."


Report: Amazon promotes exec to new president of fashion & fitness

Approximately 25% of Americans shop on Amazon once a week or more.

Amazon has tapped a company veteran to replace the outgoing president of its fashion & fitness division.

Mudge Erdrik Dogan, a 16-plus-year Amazon veteran, is stepping down as president of Amazon Fashion & Fitness for a new position outside the company, according to GeekWire. Dogan has been in the role since February 2021.  Her reported departure follows the news that Amazon had decided to close its two Amazon Style physical retail stores and focus on its online fashion shopping experience, saying it will introduce innovative technology to better serve the needs of fashion customers.

Jenny Freshwater, who most recently served as VP of traffic and marketing technology, is being promoted to president of the division. She joined Amazon in 201.

Dogan, who holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, joined Amazon in 2007 as senior product manager. Before her promotion to president of Amazon Fashion, she served as VP of worldwide last mile delivery and pick-up at Amazon from 2018 to 2021.

Freshwater began her Amazon career as a data engineering manager in 2010, and has also held VP-level positions at the company handling forecasting and capacity planning, as well as traffic and marketing technology.

Amazon has not posted anything about any changes in its Fashion & Fitness senior management, and neither Dogan nor Freshwater has updated their LinkedIn profiles as of the time of this article’s posting.

Read more coverage from GeekWire here.


Amazon partners with Meta for Facebook, Instagram shopping


Amazon shoppers can now buy products directly on Facebook and Instagram without leaving the social apps. 

Amazon has partnered with Meta for in-app shopping on Facebook and Instagram.  According to a support page on its website, Meta now lets consumers to directly link their Facebook and Instagram social media accounts to Amazon. By opting in to the new offering, Facebook and Instagram users will be able to see real-time pricing, Prime eligibility, delivery estimates and product details on select Amazon product ads in Facebook and Instagram.

As a result, participating Facebook and Instagram users can make purchases from Amazon by clicking on ads in their social feeds, without having to leave the Facebook or Instagram app.

The account linking is voluntary, and participating consumers can choose to unlink their Amazon and Meta accounts at any time in the Meta Accounts Center.

“For a more seamless shopping experience from an ad on Facebook and Instagram, you can choose to link your Meta and Amazon accounts.,” Meta said in the support page post.

Chain Store Age has reached out to Amazon for commentary. In a comment published on CNBC, an Amazon spokesperson said, “For the first time, customers will be able to shop Amazon’s Facebook and Instagram ads and check out with Amazon without leaving the social media apps.”

The CNBC article also quoted a LinkedIn comment from Meta marketing leader Stuart McMullin, who said, “It was a long process in the making and a huge deal.”

Chief Amazon rival Walmart simulcasts shoppable livestreams on Facebook, allowing Facebook followers of retailers, brands, publishers, and influencers receive an alert when they go live on a Walmart live shopping broadcast, giving consumers the ability to watch and shop directly within the social network.

The deal also comes as TikTok is looking to challenge Amazon by diving into e-commerce. In September, the company launched its long-anticipated TikTok Shop in the United States.  The video-focused social media platform says it has more than 150 million U.S. users.


Walgreens laying off 5% of its corporate workforce; chief medical officer leaves

Walgreens store

 Walgreens Boots Alliance is undergoing another round of corporate layoffs. 

The retail pharmacy and health care services company is laying off 267 corporate workers, or about 5% of its Chicago-based corporate workforce, reported the Chicago Tribune. Walgreens currently has about 238,000 employees worldwide. The layoffs will not employees at Walgreens stores.

Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman told the Chicago Tribune the layoffs were intended to streamline operations “and focus on our critical priorities.”   

In a related item, Bloomberg reported that Kevin Ban, who has served as Walgreens’ chief medical officer since January 2020, is leaving. He is reportedly being succeeded by chief clinical officer Sashi Moodley. Luke Sauter, chief of staff to the CEO, is also leaving, the report said. 

In May, Walgreens eliminated  504 corporate roles,  of about 10% of its corporate workforce.  The latest round of layoffs    come as the company is looking to cut at least $1 billion under the leadership of new CEO Tim Wentworth, who took the the reins of Walgreens in October. 



Tractor Supply transforms forecasting and replenishment with AI

Tractor Supply has set a long-term target of 3,000 stores.

Tractor Supply Company is obtaining transparency in its supply chain.

The nation’s largest rural lifestyle retailer is implementing the Relex artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)-based supply chain forecasting and replenishment solution. 

Tractor Supply hopes to obtain greater real-time visibility into its supply chain, enabling the company to better anticipate the needs of its 2,100-plus stores and nine distribution centers while providing forecasts to vendor partners. Leveraging the Relex solution, Tractor Supply will streamline forecasting, replenishment and allocations.

The retailer is enhancing supply chain capabilities as it plans to increase its annual new store openings to 90 beginning in 2025, with a “step up” to 80 locations in 2024. It’s on track to open approximately 70 stores this year.

“Relex allows us to scale our supply chain to support growth with same store sales, new stores and e-commerce,” said Clay Jackson, VP of inventory and planning at Tractor Supply Company. “By centralizing and automating our demand planning, Relex has added a new level of optimization to our supply chain, allowing us to continue to deliver legendary service to our customers.”

“Tractor Supply Company embarked on a journey to upgrade its supply chain systems, conducting a meticulous evaluation process to ensure they found the perfect fit,” said Ron Fleischer, senior VP customer operations, Americas at Relex Solutions. “We are committed to helping Tractor Supply leverage our powerful tools to optimize their supply chain, enhance operations, and cater to the ever-evolving needs of their valued customers. Together, we are poised to drive meaningful change and deliver exceptional results."