Retail Sales Rise 0.3%
Retail sales rose a modest 0.3% in February after jumping an upwardly revised 4.9% in January. Despite rising wages, inflation is really taking a bite out of household budgets and crimping spending. Ecommerce spending fell 3.7% from January but was up 14% from February 2021. Many retailers are bracing for how the war will impact supply shortages, with reports already surfacing of limited supplies of wheat, vegetable oils, and electronic components like chips that will likely send prices higher. In addition to the Russian invasion, rising COVID-19 cases and renewed restrictions in China could intensify supply chain issues. Core retail sales crept up 0.2%, leaving the Commerce Department to refer to them as “virtually unchanged.” Core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of GDP.
The Home Depot
THD plans to open 150 stores in Mexico by 2026, according to Esmerk Latin American News. THD currently operates 129 stores in Mexico.
THD invested $100,000 in the Launch Program of Ladies Who Launch (LWL). LWL became a nonprofit in 2017 and is dedicated to elevating and empowering women and non-binary business owners and entrepreneurs. They support business owners by providing educational resources, funding, mentorships, networking and community.
THD’s partnership with Women Who Code is creating opportunities in technology-driven careers. THD says they are committed to advancing diverse representation and that the hard work of technology associates plays a big part in the company’s success.
HGTV’s “Build It Forward” debuted in March. The network’s limited series profiles five homeowners who are surprised with a Home renovation using Lowe’s products, supplies and materials. The five-part series draws inspiration from Lowe’s 100 Hometowns campaign. That $10 million initiative chose 100 high-impact projects from across the country in recognition of Lowe’s centennial. Lowe’s felt some of the stories were so moving and rich they deserved to be told in a longer format. Lowe’s also announced they will build on the 100 Hometowns program with a new initiative. They’ll invest $100 million into the communities Lowe’s serves over the next five years, their largest commitment of this kind ever. Plans call for Lowe’s to complete 9,000 community-oriented projects across America through 2026. In addition, a five-part digital series call “Build it Forward: Making Good” will take a deeper look at the community organizations and the impact of projects.
Lowe’s reports that stores were set for the spring rush well in advance of the season because they brought in inventory much earlier than usual. They will be hosting their second annual SpringFest, featuring DIY workshops both in store and via livestream that will focus on skills such as building and planting a raised garden bed and creating a beautiful lawn. Lowe’s will also offer 30-minute in-store walking tours through lawn and garden on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning in mid-April and will give away one million seeds in advance of Earth Day, April 22.
Walmart plans to hire more than 50,000 U.S. workers this quarter for a variety of roles in stores, clubs, supply chain and corporate tech. Walmart’s starting wage is now as high as $30 an hour for select roles in certain markets.
Amazon plans to close all their physical bookstores as well as their 4-star shops and Pop-Up stores and focus more closely on their Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Go, Amazon Style stores and their Just Walk Out technology.
Amazon closed on their deal to acquire movie/TV blockbuster studio MGM for $8.5 billion. The iconic, nearly century-old studio has more than 4,000 film titles, 17,000 TV episodes, 180 Academy Awards and 100 Emmy Awards.
Amazon will collaborate with the US government to develop new technologies to reduce plastic pollution through innovation in materials and recycling. Amazon will join the BOTTLE consortium (Bio-Optimized Technologies to Keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment), which is supported by the US Department of Energy. The goal is to find solutions for today’s plastics management as well as to ensure that tomorrow’s plastics are recyclable from their design phase. They will also work on a new energy-efficient technology capable of breaking down different types of plastics and converting them into materials that can be used in the production of new plastics.
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