The big picture

The impending retail apocalypse

The coronavirus and online shopping are forcing brick-and-mortar retail stores to close, often for good.

Jul 6, 2020 - Economy & Business
Coronavirus retail apocalypse could be a win for chains that survive

That could benefit budget names like Ross and Kohl's.

May 19, 2020 - Economy & Business
Deep Dive: How vanity will save retail

If Main Street is going to be saved, enduring American vanity will be among the primary reasons.

Updated Jan 12, 2019 - Economy & Business

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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 15, 2021 - Economy & Business

Operator of Circle K in standoff with France over $20 billion Carrefour takeover

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX: ATD), the Canadian operator of Circle K convenience stores, is running into French government opposition to its $20 billion takeover approach for supermarket operator Carrefour (Paris: PA).

Why it matters: Carrefour is France's largest private employer, with around 100,000 workers, and also its largest food retailer.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jan 15, 2021 - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.

Dollar General will pay staff to get COVID-19 vaccine

Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dollar General is offering four hours of pay to its 157,000 employees if they get a coronavirus vaccine, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The company is one of the first major retailers to incentivize its employees to receive the vaccine. Stores and businesses that have frontline workers are currently vying for accelerated access to vaccines — hoping that early inoculation could boost customer confidence.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 13, 2021 - Economy & Business

The worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be over for shopping malls

Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals

Holiday traffic at malls was surprisingly not terrible, data tracking firm says in a new report analyzing foot traffic from more than two dozen malls across the country. The findings are "not as bleak as many had feared."

By the numbers: Mall visits were within 30% of 2019's pace in October, the smallest decline since February (when traffic was up 10.7% over 2019), but the resurgence of COVID-19 cases caused visitor counts to reverse in November, declining 42.2% year over year.

"Shippageddon": The urban package avalanche is here

Not even one full day's package delivery in my large NYC apartment building. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

The amount of stuff getting delivered to apartment buildings is overwhelming the ability to store it and make sure it doesn't get lost or stolen — creating opportunity for the "proptech" industry.

Why it matters: "Proptech" companies sell technology products that solve real estate problems — in this case, systems à la Amazon Lockers — and this year they're slavering at the surfeit of package deliveries.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

Amazon's second great land-grab

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon is in the midst of a hiring spree unprecedented in American corporate history. It's a show of force that, if history is any guide, will be extraordinarily difficult to compete with.

By the numbers: Amazon has been doing extremely well during the coronavirus pandemic. In the six months from April through September this year it made a profit of $11.6 billion. That's up from $4.8 billion in the same period of 2019, and a mere $450 million in those six months of 2017.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

The McRib returns

Data: FactSet, Axios research; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The McRib from McDonald's is a rare beast indeed. U.S. fast-food chains tend to avoid pork, outside of breakfast items, and the McRib hasn't been available nationwide since 2012.

Why it matters: A popular theory holds that the McRib only appears when hog prices hit a low point.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Dec 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

The silver lining in 2020's weak Black Friday sales

Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals

Black Friday was disappointing for retailers this year, as spending numbers underwhelmed and foot traffic declined dramatically, according to data from analytics firm

By the numbers: Customer visits were down, on average, more than 26% compared to Black Friday 2019 at the six retailers Placer tracked.

Cyber Monday sets record for biggest online shopping day in U.S. history

Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Americans spent $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday this year, making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, according to Adobe Analytics data reported by CNBC.

Why it matters: The surge in online shopping comes as the pandemic has accelerated the decline of Black Friday shopping at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, which saw in-store traffic plunge by roughly 50% compared with last year, according to data from RetailNext and Sensormatic Solutions.

Cyber Monday sales projected to grow 15%-35% from 2019

A USPS worker unpacks packages from a truck on Dec. 02, 2019 in San Francisco. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Cyber Monday has never been more meaningless, given the kickoff of the holiday season this year has been more virtual than ever thanks to the pandemic.

Why it matters: Consumers spent roughly $9 billion online on Black Friday, a 22% jump from last year's previously record high, according to Adobe Analytics.

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