Operations

The Week Ahead: Inflation, inventories and the end of Q2

Here's what we're tracking in ecommerce for the week of June 27-July 1.

fireworks at nighttime

Send Q2 out with a bang. (Photo by Elisha Terada on Unsplash)

Welcome to a new week. It’s the countdown to the end of Q2. Over the weekend, many in the country get to take a breather for the 4th of July. There's BBQ waiting at the end of this sprint.

Here’s a look at what's on the agenda in ecommerce and the economy this week:

Events

  • PI Apparel New York: Product development leaders from the fashion, apparel and footwear industries are getting together on June 28-29 in Chelsea to discuss tech and digital trends shaping the profession. Featured speakers will be representing brands such as Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Carhartt and more.
  • Path 2 Purchase Retail Media Summit: Retail media is one of the most talked about areas of growth for brands and marketplaces. From June 28-30, this Chicago summit offers a look at the leaders, technologies and platforms at the intersection of advertising and ecommerce.

Economic indicators

This week closes out the monthly cycle of data releases with several closely watched areas for economists and leaders in consumer goods alike:

  • Durable goods orders for the month of May will be out on Monday. This measures new orders placed with manufacturers for delivery of hard goods with a life of three years. It’s a snapshot of the state of industrial production.
  • Retail inventories are revealed for May on Tuesday. This measure has been in focus with one of the latest swings of the pandemic. While supply chain crunches eased up and goods ordered long ago started to arrive, retailers like Target and Walmart reported being overstocked with pandemic-era items that didn’t meet current consumer demand amid seasonal shifts and the return to in-person activities.
  • The personal consumption expenditures price index is out for May on Thursday. While the Consumer Price Index goes first and gets a lot of attention, this price gauge is the preferred measure of the Federal Reserve as it tracks inflation. Having just raised interest rates .75% following a 40-year-high inflation reading on the CPI, this index will be closely watched for hints of what the Fed might do next in July.

Stories we’re following

  • Wrapping up Q2: It’s the last dash before companies close out the quarter. Will we see deals get done and announced in the final days? Will there be signs of trends that we’ll be hearing about come earnings season? For some companies, it's the end of the fiscal year, further adding to the importance of COB on Thursday.
  • How are retailers faring? While Revlon has become a meme stock, its bankruptcy is casting a serious shadow for retailers in the trenches. CNBC reported last week that more Chapter 11 filings could be coming this year. The complicated mix of consumer demand, supply chain issues, inflation and available cash make this hard to predict, but we’re monitoring for any signs of trouble.
  • Passing on price increases: Prices have been high for a few months now, and the cost of doing business is going up along with it. Global consumer goods companies already raised prices when inflation started to creep up. Amazon passed on some costs to sellers. Now, there are more signs that direct-to-consumer brands and Amazon third-party merchants are following suit. How will brands manage through these increases, and how will consumers receive them?

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In retail, sales are often measured in goods, whether they are purchased for ourselves or someone else. There are plenty of strategies that brands and retailers use to increase those sales, whether it is marketing, loyalty programs or how that item is presented.

In most cases, these are two different parts of the equation for retailers: The product that is bought and the strategies that lead to the purchase.

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