Episode 40: Sock Loafers

In this episode of Brick & Data:

  • Nike Moving Out
  • Whole Foods Has Some Rotten Apples
  • Honeymoon is Over for Gap. Wait, What Honeymoon?
  • Weird News of the Week

Nike Moving Out

Donald Trump’s private real estate empire officially lost one of its most important tenants on Monday, when Nike announced that it is closing its store at the president’s 6 East 57th Street property in New York City next spring in favor of a new location just a few blocks away. The announcement comes a year after commercial landlord SL Green disclosed that it had signed a 15-year lease with Nike at 650 Fifth Avenue.

Politics played a role?

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Nike spokeswoman Ilana Finley declined to address whether politics played a role in the decision, saying that the company had been planning a move “for years.” The new space “gives us more opportunities to play with new concepts than we have now,” Finley said.

Two employees said that while Trump’s political rhetoric played a minor role in Nike’s decision to leave, the physical layout of the store was a bigger factor. “It is mostly due to space constraints, more than any political implications,” said one current Nike employee, who requested anonymity to speak about matters they weren’t authorized to discuss.

Look elsewhere for now

Domestic retailers might also look for other sites in a New York City borough where only 10% of the population voted for Donald Trump. Tiffany’s, which owns the site next door to Niketown, said “post-election traffic disruptions” helped cause a 14% drop in sales during the 2016 holiday season.

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Whole Foods Has Some Rotten Apples

  • Whole Foods shoppers complained about finding bruised, discolored, tasteless, and rotten produce in stores across the US. Shoppers also cited persistent out-of-stock issues.
  • Many customers are blaming the problems on Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods in a $13.7 billion deal in August.
  • “Price reductions are appreciated but not at the expense of reliable quality,” one customer said.
  • Whole Foods told Business Insider that it has made no recent changes that would affect the quality or availability of its produce.

Not much has changed, so they say

It’s not immediately clear what’s changed — Whole Foods says nothing — but many customers think the difference is e-commerce giant Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in August. While some of this may be a matter of perception among customers worried about what the Amazon deal means for their favorite store, analysts at one Wall Street investment bank have noticed detrimental changes at stores they’ve been routinely visiting, including what they call the “conventionalization” of Whole Foods.
“I purchased apples that tasted like water, an orange that was yellow and tough on the inside, and a bruised lemon,” said Susie Ippolito, who shopped at a Whole Foods store in Manhattan’s Upper East Side two to three times a week until recently. “That was the last time I went to Whole Foods. If you can’t sell me a decent apple in the height of apple season, I’ve lost all faith in your store.”
Whole Foods told Business Insider it had made no recent changes that would affect the quality or availability of its produce. The company said it had strict processes to ensure that only high-quality produce makes it into its stores and that nothing has changed about those procedures.

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Honeymoon is Over for Gap. Wait, What Honeymoon?

  • Gap Inc.’s Banana Republic and Gap brands are swiftly losing customers to other brands, according to a report from data management and analytics firm 1010data emailed to Retail Dive. From October 2016 to September 2017, Banana Republic lost 58% of shoppers who had shopped at least once between October 2015 to September 2016, 45% more than in the trailing year, according to the report.
  • Similarly, Gap lost 54% of shoppers in the past 12 months, up from 40% in the prior year. Old Navy shopper loss has also increased during the same period, but at a lower rate than Banana Republic or Gap, 1010data said. Gap Inc. didn’t immediately return Retail Dive’s request for input.
  • More than half of Banana Republic’s lost customers shopped neither at Gap nor Old Navy, with many opting for other retailers, including Aritzia, J. Crew and Boden, and helping accelerate sales revenue loss for the overall company, according to the report. Old Navy is also taking sales from Gap, though: 38% of Gap’s lost customers shopped at Old Navy. Existing customers (54%) also shopped at Old Navy in 2017, however, while just 19% also shopped at Banana Republic.

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Weird News of the Week

Nordstrom is selling Marie Antoinette inspires sock loafers. SOCK LOAFERS.

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Behold, the Sock Loafer.

  • According to Nordstrom’s product description, the shoe was, “Inspired by the idea of what Marie Antoinette might wear in 2017, a cutout loafer in glossy patent leather is inset with a quirky striped sport-sock shaft embroidered with flowers, giving it a striking, avant-garde look.”
Loafer_2
Credit: Nordstrom
  • Despite the fact that the product looks like it was made from your mom’s Mary Janes and your 12-year-old cousin’s socks, Nordstrom claims you’ll feel just like a modern Marie Antoinette — and they’ve got the price tag to prove it. Originally priced at $1,400, the shoes are now on sale for a precise $839.98, because spending that much on shoes you could probably construct at the Goodwill is exactly what defines members of the modern aristocracy.

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