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    The Week In News, But Shorter

    October 9 - 15, 2023

    The Week In News, But Shorter
    October 9 – 15, 2023

    First, we’d like to express our profound sadness following the deadly attacks in Israel this week. We are mourning the tragic loss of life that has occurred, and our hearts are with those directly and indirectly impacted.  Also, while it hasn’t received much media attention, our thoughts are also with our clients and the people of Guatemala as they navigate a very difficult political situation.

    Recent data shows that overall shopping mall visits decreased in September. Despite the overall monthly decrease, which continues the downward trend of visits since July, mall visits increased towards the end of the month, largely thanks to Labor Day and end-of-summer sales. With fall promotions underway, and the holiday season quickly approaching, experts expect to see mall visits increase in the coming months. Do these trends align with what you’re seeing in your centers, or are you bucking these trends? One thing this data doesn’t get deeper into is how malls with different retail mixes and different services compare – we expect that this is a huge difference maker. Find us on LinkedIn and let us know how you match or mismatch with these findings.

    This week we caught up on how the gig worker industry is impacting warehouses, and how leaders in the gig worker industry are attracting retailers. We also read about how some center owners are supporting the mental health of their communities, and how DTC and experiential are working for some retailers.

    Digital Meets Physical

    Why The Container Store is betting on DTC brands to refresh its assortment [ModernRetailThe Container Store appears to be a popular avenue for young brands to try out their brick-and-mortar chops. Direct-to-consumer brand Modern Picnic — which sells products like picnic bags, lunch bags and food containers — launched in physical retail for the first time in May at The Container Store. Home improvement brand Character, founded in 2022, just recently became available at 90 Container Store locations.

    The origin story of the retail ‘super app’ [Chain Store AgeA multiverse of “super apps” is developing in the U.S. retail landscape. Less flashy than the superhero movies dominating multiplexes, super apps are mobile apps that perform multiple functions for consumers. WeChat, a Chinese app that is popular in much of the world but has limited capabilities in the U.S., exemplifies the super app concept. WeChat provides services such as mobile payment, messaging and social media from a single platform.

    Walmart tests more AI, AR shopping tools [RetailDiveAdding to its suite of AR and AI-driven digital features, Walmart is deploying generative artificial intelligence to improve its search capabilities, assist shoppers with complex purchases, help customers prioritize product features and show review summaries.

    Micro & Last Mile Fulfillment

    Warehouses Are Calling In the Gig Workers [The Wall Street JournalThe gig economy is starting to reach into the warehouse. Logistics companies competing for workers are offering more flexibility in areas such as scheduling and choices on shifts as they vie for labor with companies like Uber Technologies and Instacart where workers make their own hours.

    How delivery platforms like Uber and DoorDash are trying to win over more retailers this holiday season [ModernRetailThis holiday season, the battle is on among delivery platforms like Uber, DoorDash, Instacart and Shipt to win over retailers. These delivery offerings are not new, but Uber, DoorDash and Instacart have in recent years started to work with more than just restaurants on delivery. Many of them now offer both white-label delivery services to retailers, in addition to offering delivery of non-food items on their respective apps.

    Hy-Vee to deploy micro-fulfillment centers from Takeoff Technologies [GroceryDiveHy-Vee is working with Takeoff Technologies to develop micro-fulfillment centers in certain areas where the Midwestern supermarket chain operates. Takeoff expects to supply “upwards of 20” automated online grocery order-assembly facilities to Hy-Vee through the multi-year partnership.

    FTC vs. Amazon: 4 takeaways on how the company’s fulfillment services affect sellers [RetailDiveAmazon’s fulfillment services are a major piece in the antitrust against the company, with the suit brought forth by the Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorneys general alleging anticompetitive practices are hurting sellers and consumers alike.The complaint says sellers have weathered rising fulfillment fees and are cornered into using Amazon’s fulfillment services, squeezing out alternative providers.

    Restaurants & Ghost Kitchens

    Lanch, which creates food delivery brands for influencers, gobbles up $6.9M [TechCrunchTwo of the biggest drivers of growth on social and e-commerce platforms have been food and influencers, so it should come as no surprise that startups are now trying to combine how these two work together. A startup out of Berlin called Lanch – which teams up with influencers and creators to launch ad hoc food delivery brands – has raised $6.9 million (€6.5 million) in funding.

    ​​Restaurants owners are using AI to make new menu items, like the ‘Chat GPTaco’ from a Dallas chain that became a hit with customers [InsiderMore restaurants, from local spots to national chains, are using AI to create new menu items.  Some owners say generative AI helps remove personal bias from menu creation, allowing for faster innovation. Two restaurant owners in Texas share how AI is helping them run their businesses more efficiently.

    Customers Not Sold on Restaurant Tech [PYMNTSThe vast majority of consumers do not believe that technology has a positive impact on their dining experiences. A PYMNTS Intelligence survey of more than 2,200 U.S. consumers last year revealed that only 37% agree that more technology inside of restaurants means better customer service.

    Mall Talk

    Light September mall traffic came back big on Labor Day [Chain Store AgeMall traffic had its ups and downs in September. Overall shopping mall visits decreased in September despite a slight uptick towards the end of the month.Outlet mall visits dropped by 8.7% year-over-year and indoor malls experienced a 6.9% dip in visits year-over-year. Open-air shopping centers had the smallest drop-off of just 2.5% compared to 2022.

    Center owners bind together to aid suicide prevention [Chain Store AgeShopping center operators Brixmor Property Group, Kimco Realty, Kite Realty Group, Peterson Companies, Regency Centers, Sterling Organization and Urban Edge Properties have teamed up with Vibrant Emotional Health, which operates the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for those in emotional distress. The 988 Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    From Amazon to Allbirds, nearly 50 major retailers announced layoffs this year [RetailDiveLayoffs have been a common sight in retail for the past few years, starting with the host of retailers that laid off employees during the first stages of the pandemic and continuing last year as layoffs hit a wide swath of retail disruptors, as well as stalwarts like Walmart.

    Fresh off its first pop-up, Aldo is planning more experiential events for 2024 [ModernRetailAfter holding its first consumer pop-up, Aldo is ready to ramp up its presence in experiential retail. Last month, Aldo took over New York’s Astor Place with a large, squishy structure to celebrate the expansion of its Pillow Walk technology, which uses a dual-density foam to absorb impact, to 75% of its men’s and women’s shoes. Visitors could walk through the structure — whose plush flooring mirrored the feel of Pillow Walk.

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