With colleges and grade schools going virtual, marketers are trying to come up with ways to pry consumers' wallets open during the back-to-school season.
Between the lines: Retail sales in July came in higher than they were in February, before the pandemic sent stores and restaurants closing en masse, the Commerce Department reported Friday morning.
The shift to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated beyond most analysts' predictions, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said on Wednesday at an Axios event.
The big picture: McMullen said the industry had expected the shift to online to take about 3 years. Instead, it took place in only two weeks.
E-commerce sales are still way up compared to a year ago in the U.S., but growth moderated in July as more traditional stores reopened, according to fresh data from Adobe.
Why it matters: Undoubtedly some of the shifts to online shopping will be permanent, but the numbers suggest that consumers want to do a certain amount of their buying in-person.
One company bucking the woeful news from the world of retail is Best Buy, which saw its stock price hit a record high Monday.
What's happening: Last week Best Buy announced that sales have increased from last year despite the coronavirus pandemic. It also has promised permanent wage increases for employees.
A virtual school year will likely push retailers even closer to the brink.
Why it matters: Back-to-school season is the second-biggest revenue generating period for the retail sector, after the holidays. But retailers say typical shopping sprees will be smaller with students learning at home — another setback for their industry, which has seen a slew of store closures and bankruptcy filings since the pandemic hit.
The public's view of almost every industry has improved since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Axios/Harris poll. Industries with a prominent role in life under quarantine have seen especially big jumps.
Why it matters: Businesses in America were already undergoing a transformation from being solely focused on profits to being focused on values as well. The coronavirus pandemic has expedited that shift, and consumers are responding favorably to it.
33% of America's museums are at a "significant risk" of closing permanently by next fall due to economic distress from coronavirus-related shutdowns, an American Alliance of Museums survey has found.
Why it matters: Ticket and gift shop sales, school trips and museum events are primary sources of funding, AAM President and CEO Laura Lott told NPR.
Cities ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic have a chance to come back stronger — and more equitable — than they were before, if they're willing to get creative in the way they think about budgeting, public services and infrastructure.
Why it matters: Making smart decisions now can help build more equitable, livable cities that will also be better equipped to weather public health crises. But if local leaders simply default to old habits, they'll entrench inequities that the pandemic has exploited and made worse.
U.S. retail sales rose 7.5% in June, after a revised record 18.2% jump in May, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
Why it matters: Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of U.S. economic activity, and June's retail sales nearly reached February's pre-pandemic levels, driven by spending at car dealerships, clothing and furniture stores. But economists warn it may have since slowed as states began to reimpose lockdowns amid surging coronavirus caseloads.
Walmart will require all customers to wear face masks beginning next week in all of its 5,000 company-owned stores, in addition to its Sam's Club locations, the company announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. and the latest in a string of national chains — including Costco and Starbucks — to mandate masks for customers.