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Boxed, Amazon News Highlight Economic Woes

| Mike O'Brien

Boxed, the once high-flying online warehouse club that set out to be the ecommerce equivalent of brick-and-click competitors like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s, is now exploring strategic alternatives, which euphemistically means looking for a buyer. And Amazon acknowledged an expansion of its corporate layoffs from 10,000 to 18,000.

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Overall Holiday Retail Sales Growth Outpaces Online

| Mike O'Brien

Depending on who you believe, domestic holiday retail sales were up 6% to 8%, which should cause retailers to do backflips, considering the state of the economy. But the rate of ecommerce growth was slower, reversing a trend from past years, with online sales up 3.5%, as the stores became the story.

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FedEx Expands Boxless Returns to SMBs

| Mike O'Brien

Taking advantage of a growing preference for boxless returns, FedEx is rolling out a consolidated returns program early this year aimed at providing the service for small-to-medium-sized merchants in addition to major retailers. While FedEx has a relationship with Happy Returns, it provides all the logistics for this new offering.

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Inflation, Economy Dominated 2022 Headlines

| Mike O'Brien

James Carville famously told Clinton campaign workers in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and that mantra dominated again 30 years later, as high inflation and recession fears dogged the retail industry this year, leading to massive discounting to drive sales, often at the expense of profits.

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Returns Rates Match for Stores, Ecommerce

| Mike O'Brien

The rate of returns from retail purchases is expected to remain relatively flat this year compared to 2021, at 16.5%, with store and ecommerce returns roughly equal as the latter figure has improved, according to a report from the National Retail Federation and Apriss Retail.

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Top Retail CEOs See Lingering Consumer Unease

| Mike O'Brien

The CEOs of Nordstrom and Walmart both spoke this week of continuing concern over inflation affecting shoppers heading into the back half of the 2022 holiday season, as credit cards are maxed out and kitchen table budget meetings weigh using funds for gifts vs. essentials, causing retail jitters.

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Amazon vs. Walmart Head-to-Head in this Infographic

| Mike O'Brien

While Amazon is the clear market leader in ecommerce sales, at $50.9 billion to $19.2 billion, arch-rival Walmart has been gaining in some respects in their ongoing retail industry cage match. Jungle Scout has developed a helpful infographic that details some key comparison metrics between the two behemoths. (image credit: Wharton/UPenn)

Macy’s Converts 35 Stores to Mini FCs

| Mike O'Brien

Ahead of peak season, Macy’s converted 35 stores into mini fulfillment centers, creating about 1 million square feet of space to handle online orders, lowering costs, speeding up delivery times and reducing the incidence of painful split shipments, executives said on a recent earnings call.

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Just Another Cyber Monday: $11.3 Billion Sets Record

| Mike O'Brien

As did Black Friday, Cyber Monday set a record of $11.3 billion in online spending, per Adobe Analytics, up 5.8% from the first-ever down year of 2021, once again driven by heavy discounting to spur demand in an inflationary period. At the peak of 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. PST, consumers were spending at a clip of $12.8 million every minute, Adobe reported.

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When Black Friday Comes, 2022 Edition

| Mike O'Brien

Black Friday looked good compared to an average day this year or even a year ago, but less so when compared to 2019. Online, sales were healthier, but just a 2.3% gain from 2021, Adobe said. Lululemon Athletica, American Eagle Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret were winners, and Gap, Banana Republic and Hollister were challenged.