Axios Closer

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Thursday βœ….

Today's newsletter is 693 words, a 2Β½-minute read.

πŸ”” The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed down 0.6%.

  • Biggest gainer? Align Technology (+13.4%), the maker of Invisalign, beat expectations for Q2 revenue and earnings and issued upbeat guidance.
  • Biggest decliner? eBay (-10.5%) disappointed investors with its Q3 earnings guidance.

1 big thing: Now, officially, the beyond

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The end is here for Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy Baby with all remaining stores in their final days of liquidation and discounts up to 90%, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes.

  • Why it matters: With the entire company liquidating in bankruptcy, it’s one of the three largest going-out-of-business sales in the last 15 years, rivaled by the 2018 fall of Toys R Us and the 2008 demise of Circuit City.

State of play: Sunday, July 30, is the "last day" that stores will be open to the public, the company confirmed to Axios.

What’s next: The Bed Bath name will live on β€” not in physical stores, but online. Overstock.com announced it would rebrand under the name after winning the IP in a bankruptcy auction.

  • GlobalData managing director Neil Saunders called the move a "big bet" that could help Overstock drive more traffic and trade in the online space.
  • β€œBed Bath & Beyond is a much more powerful, much better-known brand than Overstock and, despite recent problems, it retains a lot of customer goodwill,” he wrote Thursday in a note.

Meanwhile, stores could reopen under the buybuy Baby name down the line after New Jersey-based Dream on Me Industries, which bought the company's IP for $15.5 million, won a bid to buy 11 of 20 store leases.

The bottom line: If you plan to shop the closing sales, brace for disappointment β€” there won't be much left in stores β€” and remember all sales are final.

  • And no, you can't use a coupon or gift card, which are now long expired.

2. Charted: Purple rain

Data: McDonald's earnings reports; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: McDonald's earnings reports; Chart: Axios Visuals

There's nothing for McDonald's to grimace about this quarter.

Driving the news: The fast-food chain delivered a 10.3% U.S. same-restaurant sales increase in Q2, compared with a year earlier, Nathan writes.

The intrigue: "Well, if I'm being honest, the theme was Grimace," McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski admitted on an earnings call.

  • The return of the long-retired character in the form of the Grimace Birthday Meal was good for sales, but also for social media buzz, generating more than 3 billion views on TikTok.

Zoom in: It's been "one of our most socially engaging campaigns of all time," global CFO Ian Borden said.

πŸ’­ Nathan's thought bubble: In uncertain times, nostalgia sells.

3. What's happening

🍺 Bud Light brewer Anheuser-Busch is cutting about 350 corporate workers. (Axios)

βš™οΈ Gears are slowly turning again in the long-dormant M&A market. (Axios Pro: Retail Deals)

4. Traveling to Europe just got more complicated

Illustration of a suitcase with the EU flag on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Traveling from the U.S. to Europe will require applying for permission in advance β€” and an accompanying fee β€” beginning in 2024, Nathan writes.

What's happening: The EU is imposing the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), requiring travelers who don't need a visa for entry β€” which includes Americans β€” to file an application in advance to get in.

Details: ETIAS applicants must provide their name, birthdate, nationality, address, parents' first names, email, phone number, travel document details, level of education, job, travel destination and criminal convictions.

  • The EU says applicants should receive a decision within four days.
  • Yes, but: Make that as much as two weeks if you're prompted for additional documentation or "up to 30 days if you are invited to an interview."
  • The application costs €7, or about $8.

State of play: Once approved, you're good for three years "or until the travel document you used in your application expires" β€” likely your passport β€” "whichever comes first."

5. Let's try that again

Lily Collins, the star of "Emily In Paris." Photo: Vera Anderson/WireImage

Emily in Paris, meet Polly Pocket.

What's happening: Lily Collins, the star of the Netflix comedy-drama "Emily in Paris," will be the title character in an upcoming film featuring Mattel's Polly Pocket toy, Variety reports.

The big picture: With "Barbie" turning into a smash hit, it's all systems go for Mattel's strategy of turning its toys into cinematic events, Nathan writes.

  • Lena Dunham, the creator, writer and star of HBO's "Girls," is set to direct and write the Polly Pocket film.

In case you didn't have one: Polly Pocket was a lineup of mini dolls and accessories popularized in the 1990s.

6. What they're saying

"The things we were all freaked out about earlier this year all went away."
β€” Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Bank of America, to the NYT, on the persistent strength of the economy.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

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