Choose your brick-and-mortar

Francisco Sebastian, Payroll Manager

Completed all your shopping this Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and/or Cyber Monday? Or convened with old friends for Blackout Wednesday?

According to StarTribune, “Self-gifting has evolved into a popular trend in recent years, but it’s expected to spike this year. Retailers have started to cater to the self-shoppers in their ads this year. Who wants a $10 toaster as a gift or who can afford to give someone a $1,500 65-inch Smart TV?”

However, as everyone knows, brick-and-mortar stores are being phased out by the e-commerce giants, eliminating consumer’s sense of urgency on Black Friday. Such procrastination leads to Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, when shoppers swamp stores for immediate items to take home and wrap. Therefore, Super Saturday is a defining moment for retailers that are yet to digitize their brand.

Holiday sales can amount to upwards of 30% of annual sales. According to CNBC, shoppers tend to shop for a longer duration of time if they are in a happy mood. That can be facilitated by, what almost all stores does nowadays, playing Christmas music. But, those who go above and beyond, will certainly attain more from their customers, as in the example of a Best Buy location in Minnesota. In that location, shoppers are greeted by Best Buy representatives offering hot cocoa and doughnuts. So, next time you go shopping, it would not hurt to write down in their survey box that it would be nice to be provided with a drink while walking along their aisles.

And with that, here is a list of retailers that have been in the news lately, some of which are relying on a fruitful holiday season to fend off their online competitors.

1. Kohl’s
CEO: Michelle Gass
Hot Item: Kids Jetson Jupiter Folding Kick Scooter – $19.99
E-commerce Competition: Target, Lark and Ro

Quick Info:
Kohl’s are not normally in malls, thus, they struggle in attaining Kohl’s-exclusive clientele. But partnering with Amazon in accepting their returns is a great way to generate store traffic. In a recent conference call, CEO Michelle Gass, disappointed Wall Street by slashing off retailers’ profit outlook of the year and stating, “the retailer has to enter the holiday season with ‘momentum’ and put investment towards boosting traffic”. The company was founded by Polish immigrant Maxwell Kohl who started by opening a corner grocery store in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1927.

2. Home Depot
CEO: Craig Menear
Hot Item: 18-Volt OCTANE Lithium-Ion Cordless Brushless 4-Mode Compact Impact Wrench Kit – $149.00
E-commerce Competition:,

Quick Info:
Home Depot’s ‘‘holiday’’ season is actually in spring, but given that this home improvement retailer has been fighting strongly against e-commerce, Home Depot will likely profit from the Christmas season. This retailer has shown no signs of regression as sales per square foot in-house last holiday season was $414.17, a figure that is only expected to increase this year.
Interesting customer-classification that Home Depot uses to sell some of its products are the DIY Customers and the Professional Customers (or “Pros”). Pros are the type of consumers that make more frequent trips and spend more per trip than the average shopper.

3. Gap Inc.
CEO: Robert J. Fisher (Interim)
Hot Item: Crazy Stripe Dog Sweater – $39.95
E-commerce Competition: J.Crew, JC Penny

Quick Info:
GAP Inc. is the parent company of Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta and Hill City. Gap’s 2019 Holiday campaign is “Gift the Thought,” where no matter how simple a gift may seem, the purpose behind that present represents the spirit of the holiday season. In select Gap stores, shoppers who purchase gifts can choose “thought-based gift tags” to go along with their items.

4. Ross Stores
CEO: Barbara Rentler
Hot Item: According to their website, “Bargains are always different, often here today and gone tomorrow.”
E-commerce Competition: Walmart, Macy’s

Quick Info:
Despite recent speculation of an upcoming recession, Ross Stores, alongside its off-price retail cohorts, are confident in their ability to benefit from an economic downturn. Unlike most retailers, Ross offers an ever-changing merchandise selection, making its fashion trend relevant week to week and consumers seem to like the thrill of the hunt. And for the finance majors out there, Ross Stores shares are trading for 21 times earnings as of Nov. 30.

5. L Brands
CEO: Les Wexner
Hot Item: Logo Short Cozy Robe – $35.00
E-commerce Competition: Rhianna’s Savage X Fenty, Adore Me

Quick Info:
L Brands’ subsidiary, Victoria’s Secret, is evolving and growing, and to underscore their growth, Victoria’s Secret decided to cancel the most extravagant event of the year, the 2019 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Victoria’s Secret used to be at the forefront of wearable technology with their Incredible sports bra which used built-in electrodes to measure heart rate. However, it has then died down, but possibly might be revived once more.

This year, retailers have been hit hard with a dramatic calendar shift. Last year, Thanksgiving was on Nov. 22, while this year Thanksgiving landed on the 28th, cutting six days of holiday shopping and one less weekend.

So, put on some nice clothes (or not, go in your pajamas as you won’t be the only one) and go into your favorite stores before they get devoured by online giants. And lucky for you, all stores mentioned above are located within driving distance from NEIU, right on McCormick Blvd. Lastly, for those who are always ahead of the curve, Baby Yoda will be proclaimed as 2020’s Hottest New Toy!

Francisco Sebastian has no position in any of the companies’ stocks mentioned. The Independent has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.