Well folks, we’ve made it through another week!
The second round of PPP loans launched on Monday. On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order compelling meat processing plants to stay open. And, every day of the week I have been listening in on various fast-food earnings calls.
Read on for all the retail news you might have missed this week. And, if you were forwarded this newsletter, you can subscribe here to get The Drive-Thru — written by me, Kate Taylor, and Shoshy Ciment — in your inbox every Friday.
Shoshy reports that StockX initially kept its authentication centers open when states ordered nonessential businesses to shut down in March. Internal sources told her that there have been seven confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the company.
The buzzy sneaker resale platform recently laid off 12% of its workforce, as employees worry about safety issues.
“We are currently part of the problem and not the solution,” said a message sent to the company’s Slack channel. “By having our facilities continue to stay open we are on the wrong side of history.”
Irene and I have been trying to untangle how restaurants are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, as states begin to allow dining rooms to reopen. Here are some of our takeaways:
- First, a breakdown of what states are reopening, starting with Georgia — and one restaurateur’s reasoning for why the “vast majority of restaurants cannot open profitably.” Bethany has been keeping an eye on South Carolina and Texas as well.
- Georgia icons Chick-fil-A and Waffle House provide a window into why some restaurants are reopening dining rooms and others aren’t. Hint: it has a lot to do with drive-thru. Because Waffle House’s sales fell 70% during the pandemic, the chain wants to equally weigh the risk of catching the coronavirus with the economic risk of the shutdown. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A launched a meal kit.
- Even when restaurants reopen, they won’t look the same. Starbucks is setting up stations to pick up orders in its doorways, and BBQ chain Smokey Bones is using red tape to block off certain tables to promote social distancing.
- Behind the scenes, supply chain issues are also creating problems. McDonald’s is temporarily changing how restaurants get burgers, bacon, and sausages, as meat industry executives continue to warn of shortages.
- Reopening doesn’t mean that 2020 is going to suddenly turn around for restaurants. UBS expects sales will plummet 40% this year, undoing 20 years of growth for the industry as grocery stores dominate.
Madeline reports clothing retailers are facing a massive inventory problem as stores — including off-price stores — across the country stay closed.
Typically, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, and Burlington are an avenue for full-price retailers to offload products that haven’t been selling well at their own stores. But, off-price retailers aren’t taking orders because they’re closed, so brands are left without that option.
How are retailers responding? Well, at least some of them are reopening stores. Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the US, will open 49 of its shopping centers over the next several days. And, Macy’s plans to reopen 68 stores next week.
As stores reopen, Mary reports that shoppers can expect to see some major changes, including appointment-only stores and robots stocking shelves.
Bethany reports on how companies like Thinx and Top see the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity. Sales are surging, as some traditional feminine care brands see shortages and customers shelter in place.
In the words of Maria Molland, CEO of Thinx: “Periods don’t stop for pandemics.”
Hayley interviewed Amazon’s vice president of worldwide workplace health and safety, Heather MacDougall.
“I’ve learned in my first year with Amazon that there’s speed in business, there’s Amazon speed, and now there’s pandemic speed,” she said. “We’ve had to think fast and move quicker.”
Everything else you need to know:
- The $600 federal boost to unemployment checks that was meant to aid struggling families is triggering confusion.
- ‘Traumatized’ McDonald’s franchisees face coronavirus sales slump.
- Juul is reportedly considering mass layoffs. Read the company’s internal memo here.
- Frustrated customers at Kay, Zales, and Jared say their wedding and engagement rings are stuck in “jewelry jail.”
- The coronavirus pandemic demolished breakfast sales at fast-food giants like McDonald’s and Taco Bell.
- Popeyes sales surged a whopping 29% despite the coronavirus pandemic.
- Costco will require all shoppers to wear masks.
- Why Trader Joe’s refuses to offer grocery pickup or delivery.
Plus, two history lessons:
- The inspiring true story of Ruth’s Chris’s Ruth.
- The bizarre true story of Chuck E. Cheese’s Charles Entertainment Cheese.