The Weekly Closeout: More retailers halt sales in Russia

It’s been another week with far more retail news than there is time in the day. Below, we break down some things you may have missed during the week and what we’re still thinking about.

From Sephora partnering with Shipt to Bed Bath & Beyond facing pressure activist, here’s our closeout for the week.

What you may have missed

More brands ditch Russia, support Ukraine

As Russia stepped up its attack on Ukraine and grim news of the war continued for a second week, more than two million refugees have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations. World leaders heaped more sanctions on Russia this week, and more companies — including major American food chains McDonald’s and Starbucks and e-commerce giant Amazon — joined the list of businesses and brands that have pulled out of Russia and, in some cases, are supporting Ukraine. As of press time, more than 340 companies had ditched Russia at least temporarily, according to a tracker updated every hour by Yale University professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.

On Monday, Estée Lauder said it would go further in curtailing its operations in Russia. After suspending business investments and initiatives there last week, the company will “suspend all commercial activity in Russia, including closing every store we own and operate, as well as our brand sites and shipments to any of our retailers in Russia.” The company has committed $1 million relief efforts in Ukraine, per a press release.

French beauty rival L’Oreal, which runs a subsidiary in Russia, condemned the war and is temporarily shutting down its stores and investments in Russia, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

In one of the more strongly worded statements, Skechers on Wednesday said it will temporarily suspend shipments to Russia, is donating $250,000 in humanitarian aid to organizations in Ukraine and Poland, and is matching employee donations up to an additional $250,000 to support the Ukrainian people.

“We have a deep concern for Ukraine and its citizens, who are doing all they can to defend their country and survive while under siege,” Skechers President Michael Greenberg said in a statement. “And while our team in Ukraine is currently safe, this has been a heartbreaking time for them, their families and neighbors.”

Crocs on Wednesday said it would pause online and store sales within and imports to Russia and make an unspecified donation to the United Nations Children’s Fund, also known as UNICEF, “to support those directly impacted by the war.” In a statement, Crocs CEO Andrew Rees said, “Our hearts are with all those enduring this crisis and we hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the war in Ukraine.”

As the world watches Russia step up its attack on Ukraine, it’s become more difficult for brands to stay quiet and stick around, and Ukraine itself is keeping the pressure on. Early Thursday morning, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via the country’s strategic communications’ Twitter account, called on “relevant businesses, governments and consumers around the world to boycott such companies and their products,” and listed several companies still doing business in Russia, including Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing and shoe brand Salvatore Ferragamo.

Also on Thursday, however, Fast Retailing said it is temporarily suspending operations in Russia and donating $10 million and clothing to the UN Refugee Agency, also known as UNHCR.

“Fast Retailing is strongly against any acts of hostility,” the company said. “We condemn all forms of aggression that violate human rights and threaten the peaceful existence of individuals.”

In an email, Salvatore Ferragamo didn’t elaborate on its plans, except to say that it “does not operate directly in Russia. Its activities there are managed by a local distributor.”

Amazon’s board authorizes $10B buyback program

Amazon approved a 20-for-1 split of its stock that should make shares in the e-commerce company — which are approaching $3,000 apiece — a little more affordable to the average investor. The plan is set for a vote at the company’s annual meeting on May 25, and the company expects split-adjusted trading to begin in early June.

Amazon also approved a $10 billion share repurchase program to replace a little-used $5 billion buyback program approved by the board in 2016, under which Amazon bought $2.1 billion in shares. Of that amount, $1.3 billion of those buybacks Amazon carried out in the first two months of this year. Prior to that, the company reported no buybacks for the previous six years, making Amazon a rarity in a buyback-heavy retail world — until now.

Amazon’s stock has fallen significantly from its pandemic-era highs of more than $3,700 a share.

Sephora chases new customers through Shipt partnership

Shipt is promoting its partnership with Sephora through “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness.

Courtesy of Shipt

Sephora this week partnered with Shipt for same-day delivery and is the first “large-scale beauty retailer” on the platform. Through the deal, Sephora will offer a range of beauty and wellness products for delivery in as soon as an hour. Sephora shoppers can earn rewards for the retailer’s Beauty Insider loyalty program with purchases made on Shipt, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.

Shipt is promoting the partnership with “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness, who is curating a collection of clean beauty products from Sephora available exclusively to Shipt shoppers. The deal expands Sephora to more potential customers — a key part of the beauty retailer’s strategy recently. Sephora at the end of 2020 made a deal to sell its products through hundreds of Kohl’s shop-in-shops, which are in the process of being rolled out.

“As we continue to cater our offerings to meet our clients’ unique needs, it was important to us to find a partner who not only had the potential to help expand our reach to new-to-Sephora clients, but also support our current clients and new ways of experiencing beauty retail today,” Carolyn Bojanowski, senior vice president and general manager of e-commerce at Sephora, said in a statement.

Retail Therapy

Nerds have the best Pi

7-Eleven on Tuesday announced that it was bringing back its $3.14 pizza deal for Pi Day. If you don’t know, Pi Day is when a bunch of nerds celebrate that it’s March 14, or 3.14, which is the mathematical constant that you had to learn in class but probably haven’t used in your daily life since you were 15 .

The good news is that said nerds have given us permission to eat pi(es) of all sorts, specifically of the dessert and pizza variety. And 7-Eleven is in the middle of all of it, in what it describes as “the perfect solution for a hungry mathematician.” Shoppers can pick up a whole pizza in select 7-Eleven and Speedway stores that day through the 7Rewards and Speedy Rewards loyalty programs or via the 7Now delivery app to receive the deal.

Note that there is a limit of two per customer. Otherwise the numbers wouldn’t add up.

Pi anyone?

Courtesy of 7-Eleven

Ross to open 100 stores. Again.

Ross on Monday announced that the company was opening 100 new locations this year, which started to ring a bell. “Haven’t we heard this before?” the Retail Dive Team asked.

Turns out we had. A number of times. We wrote that they were opening 100 stores in 2018, 2019 and 2020. (Last year they only opened 65 — we wrote about the last several dozen here.)

This time around the company is adding 75 stores of its Ross brand and 25 DD’s Discounts in 2022. The ultimate goal, the company said, is to have 2,900 Ross locations and 700 DD’s Discounts stores. The retailer currently claims to be the largest off-price apparel and home fashion chain in the US with nearly 1,650 locations in 40 states, Washington, DC and Guam.

Whatever they are doing seems to be working. A recent research note from Wells Fargo led by Ike Boruchow said that the company “has one of the best business models in specialty retail.”

And if you missed the announcement this year, no worries. We will probably write it again in 2023.

What we’re still thinking about

18%

That’s how much Petco’s full-year sales increased from 2020. At the onset of the pandemic, the retailer — like others selling pet goods — saw sales skyrocket as consumers turned to their pets as a source of comfort. But despite that surge last year, Petco was able to post further gains this year, reporting sales of $5.8 billion and comps growth of 19% for fiscal 2021. The retailer’s net income was $159.8 million from a net loss of $31.7 million last year.

$12.3B

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