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The Retail Focus Podcast

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Each week, we release a new podcast covering the world of retail, including business developments, trends, and historical perspectives. Podcasts feature news summaries, interviews, and previews of industry goings-on, intended for a wide variety of listeners.

Each week, we release a new podcast covering the world of retail, including business developments, trends, and historical perspectives. Podcasts feature news summaries, interviews, and previews of industry goings-on, intended for a wide variety of listeners.
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Each week, we release a new podcast covering the world of retail, including business developments, trends, and historical perspectives. Podcasts feature news summaries, interviews, and previews of industry goings-on, intended for a wide variety of listeners.




Retail Focus 1/19/20 – Gap Calls Off Split; Place-Based Retail & the Future of Sampling

A few big news stories headline our show, including Walmart’s continued rollout of robotics for both the back and front of the store, and Gap calling off their planned split of Old Navy. We also discuss Amazon’s backtrack regarding FedEx Ground, and an investigation at Best Buy. Our interview guest is Marci Weisler, Chief Commercial Officer of Vengo Labs, who discusses bringing retail to non-traditional retail locations and the future of in-store sampling as a retail marketing tool.


Retail Focus 1/13/20 – Mark Tritton’s Restoration Project; Using Effective Design to Re-Think Retail

We start the show with holiday sales updates, which came out en masse last week. We talk in some depth about Mark Tritton’s first earnings call as Bed Bath & Beyond CEO, and we look at a deal that could enable grocer Save A Lot some flexibility as they search for stability. Our interview guest is Michael Hurst of Starch Creative (, who discusses the new frontier of retail design, including changing in-store layouts to have a more open dialogue with customers.


Retail Focus 12/29/19 – Annual Top & Bottom 5 Retailer List; Taking Market Share from Closing Stores

Although we cover some brief news from Amazon and Kroger, we spend the bulk of this episode ranking our top and bottom five retailers for calendar year 2019. Who makes the list for the first time, and who takes the number one spot? Our interview guest is Cardlytics CMO Dani Cushion, who joins us to talk the data behind taking market share from distressed or closing retailers.


Retail Focus 12/21/19 – Amazon’s Standoff with FedEx; Chewy’s Pleasant Surprise

In a show that tilts towards e-commerce news, we begin with the news surrounding Amazon and FedEx, as Amazon makes it more difficult for third-party sellers to use the shipping platform for Prime sales. From there we head to Chewy’s earnings call, and positivity surrounding their steadily increasing margins and private label products. We close the show by discussing dynamics of digital returns and the pressures they are projected to place on warehouse space, and the wholesale leadership...


Retail Focus 12/14/19 – Casey’s Plans Further Expansion; Building a More Holistic View of Customers

We start with a regional grocer in Ingles Markets this week, as they continue to display solid same-store sales trends. From there, we discuss Casey’s most recent earnings call and a new distribution center that will potentially allow them further expansion. We wrap up with Conn’s and their pivot in electronics and an acquisition of New Seasons Market. Our interview guest is Rob McGovern, the founder and CEO of PreciseTarget, who discusses the necessity of retailers building a more complete...


Retail Focus 12/9/19 – Aldi Delays AZ Plans; Kroger Earnings; Big Lots Shifts Focus (Again)

We begin with sad news—that of Ollie’s CEO Mark Butler’s passing. From there, we discuss Aldi’s postponement of building in Arizona, Kroger’s latest earnings call, and retailers we both paid a visit to last week. Additionally, we conduct a deep dive on Big Lots, discussing how their “Store of the Future” layout and their movement away from essentials marks another pivot for the company. In closing, we look ahead to Conn’s earnings and how tariffs may affect Five Below’s runaway success.


Retail Focus 11/27/19 – TJX, Ross, and Burlington Initiatives; A.C. Moore Announces Closures

As promised in our last show, it is an off-price extravaganza this week, with TJX, Ross, and Burlington all hosting earnings calls in the last seven days. We compare the retailers, specifically as it pertains to the all-important holiday inventory levels and deal flow. In closing, we briefly touch on A.C. Moore’s announced closures and Dick’s Sporting Goods relative recent success.


Retail Focus 11/24/19 – Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s Earnings; CBRE Food & Beverage Report

We lead our show with Target, who once again impressed the retail world with a solid earnings call—we go beyond the numbers to discuss their initiatives on tap for the upcoming quarter and year. After, we discuss two very different calls from the home improvement sector in Home Depot and Lowe’s, and look ahead to our off-price show next week. Our interview guest is Meghann Martindale, the Global Head of Retail Research at CBRE, who joins us to discuss CBRE’s recent report detailing forecasts...


Retail Focus 11/17/19 – Walmart & Grocery Outlet See Success; Tech & AI in Grocery

It is earnings season, and as per our obligation, we start the show by covering Walmart’s earnings. After, we discuss Grocery Outlet’s promise as an expanding concept, JCPenney’s earnings, and Layton’s retail experiences in Detroit. Our interview guest is Sean Turner, Co-Founder & CTO of Swiftly, who joins us to discuss implementation of e-commerce and AI technologies in small- to mid-sized grocers.


Retail Focus 11/8/19 – Kroger’s Rebrand Efforts; Holiday Spend Data from Cardlytics

As far as the news portion of the podcast is concerned, we touch on Kroger’s recent investor conference and their rebranding announcements, followed by Sally Beauty earnings and a study from UBS that made headlines regarding mall food courts. Our interview guest is Dani Cushion, CMO at Cardlytics, who joins us to discuss Cardlytics’ recent holiday data and break down potential opportunities for retailers on the marketing front.


Retail Focus 11/2/19 – Carter’s Flexes Wholesale Muscles; ROIC Shows Neighborhood Retail Strength

As earnings season gets under way, we go beyond the main earnings metrics for Carter’s to find that children’s clothing retail may be more robust than thought, especially given declining birth rates. From there, we take a look at Walgreens’ front-store sales and an earnings call from ROIC that suggests neighborhood shopping centers are popular as ever. We close by discussing Amazon’s latest grocery delivery efforts and Wayfair’s quest to stop hemorrhaging money.


Retail Focus 10/20/19 – Albertsons’ Continued Positive Momentum; MLB to Open NYC Store

With their latest earnings report, privately-held Albertsons appears to be trending in a positive direction. We lead our show with a deep dive and positives and negatives from their second quarter information. From there, we discuss a new report from the NRF that suggests November imports will be on the rise as a result of potential tariffs, and Major League Baseball opening a flagship store in NYC against significant headwinds. We close with a quick discussion of Five Below’s new gaming...


Retail Focus 10/7/19 – Study Suggests Declining Price Elasticity in Apparel; Costco Earnings

We lead the show with an intriguing study from First Insight that suggests price elasticity may be declining across most apparel categories as well as home goods. After discussing the potential implications for retailers, we move on to Costco’s latest earnings call, and then to the NRF’s yearly holiday sales projections. As we conclude the show, we look at Kroger’s solution to a potential food desert after a store closure and a list of potential retail bankruptcies in the next 12 months.


Retail Focus 9/28/19 – Pier 1’s Difficult Quarter; More Forever 21 Rumors; Halloween Projections

Amidst an ongoing turnaround plan, Pier 1 puts forth a difficult quarter but hopes their strategy will begin to pay off for the holidays. Meanwhile, more rumors surround a potential deal between two REITs and Forever 21, and we discuss convenience store operators’ relative optimism for the winter season. We wrap up by looking at IKEA’s new smaller store in Queens and projections for a potential decline in Halloween sales.


Retail Focus 9/23/19 – Positive Holiday Shopping Forecasts; hhgregg Reopens Physical Store

Projections come out from Deloitte and AlixPartners suggesting the holiday season may see a robust increase in sales year-over-year, countering a more bearish outlook from Wells Fargo. We discuss this, as well as hhgregg (or H.H. Gregg, depending on which style you prefer) making a foray back into brick-and-mortar. Additionally, we take a look at Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores earnings, a full rollout of new technology from Meijer, and Stage finally handing over the keys to Gordmans.


Retail Focus 9/6/19 – Michaels Attempts Differentiation, Impact of Hurricane Dorian on Retail

We begin our show by looking at Michaels earnings results—more specifically, we look at Michaels’ continued attempts to differentiate in the craft retail space and hone in on their core consumer. From there, we discuss the potential impacts of Hurricane Dorian on U.S. retail, paper shrink in organics, and Kimberly-Clark’s confidence. Additionally, we address Kirkland’s “accelerating in a not-positive direction,” as Layton puts it.


Retail Focus 8/28/19 – Target Sets Company Records; Tale of Two Off-Price Stores

In a packed podcast, we talk about Target’s record earnings call (and share price) before discussing L Brands’ Jekyll and Hyde status. From there, we discuss Sears Hometown’s most recent suitor, how a once-bankrupt brand may be helping to save Stage, and various initiatives at Ross before wrapping up by glancing at Costco’s China entrance and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.


Retail Focus 8/18/19 – Walmart Does It Again; JCPenney’s Resale Partnership

After discussing another quarter in which Walmart provides a positive earnings surprise, we turn our attention to JCPenney’s announced partnership with thredUP, and why it may surpass critics’ expectations. From there, we talk point-of-sale—a new study from suggests customers are still using cash for small purchases at a high rate. We wrap up by looking at Amazon’s…interesting…video promotion.


Retail Focus 8/11/19 – CVS & Walgreens Make the News; Retail Landlords Serving as Creditors

CVS and Walgreens were both in the news this week, albeit for vastly different reasons—we discuss CVS’ great quarter and more closures for WBA. We then look to the most recent Sears and Kmart closures for optimism, of all things, before turning our attention to a recent story about retail landlords potentially having interest in serving as de facto lenders to struggling tenants.


Retail Focus 7/26/19 – Albertsons’ Pleasant Quarter; GNC More Profitable Despite E-Commerce Woes

After referencing Amazon’s earnings to begin the show, we re-hash Albertsons’ latest quarter and some of their ongoing initiatives as the company seeks to make themselves desirable for a potential IPO. From there, we discuss a bellwether in home improvement, as Sherwin-Williams surges on the retail front once again. We wrap up by discussing GNC’s negative (!) e-commerce sales trends and eBay’s newest fulfillment project.