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No more wedding parties at Banana Republic

BY Marianne Wilson

Gap Inc. is throwing in the towel when it comes to bridal wear.

Gap’s Weddington Way brand, which operates an e-commerce site and in-store shops at Banana Republic, said the shops will close down within the next few months. In a note on its website, the brand said it “hopes” to continue to serve customers online indefinitely. But “at this point,” is only guaranteeing online orders through June 11.

Weddington Way was founded in 2012, in San Francisco. Gap acquired the digitally native brand in December 2016. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

J. Crew Group exited the bridal wear category in summer 2016.

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Planting Roots in Retail

Everybody loves spring. Whether you’re someone that can’t wait to enjoy that first warm-weather hike in a local park, or you’ve already bought your plants and seeds and are ready to get your hands dirty in the garden, spring gives all of us the opportunity to get back outside and celebrate new beginnings.

Spring is also an exciting time in the retail industry. As temperatures rise and flowers are blooming, stores across the country open their garden centers stock the shelves with products to enjoy the outdoors. It’s also the season of opportunity. It’s the time when many people think about getting a fresh start, learning something new, or taking a first step toward a long-term goal. And simply put, few industries offer more opportunity than retail.

Whether you’re a 16-year-old looking to earn your first paycheck or a mature worker looking to stay active later in life, retail offers individuals from all walks of life the ability to choose your own path. And the sky is the limit.

Just ask one of the many employees who planted their roots in retail and have been growing within the industry ever since.

Like the assistant store manager who started at Lowe’s as a seasonal cashier six years ago. Or the 33-year veteran Publix employee who works his way up from part-time associate to leadership development manager. Or the sales associate that joined Gap in 1975 as a seasonal employee, but now, 43 years later, considers everyone at the company family.

These “part-time to profession” stories don’t get told often, but they’re common in the retail industry. The ladder of opportunity in retail means everyone has a fair chance to build a career that works for them. And as spring brings a rush of seasonal hires, it’s important to note that seasonal hiring isn’t just about making sure garden centers are staffed and flip flops are well stocked. It’s about opening the door for all to the endless possibilities that exist when working in retail.

For some, a spring job is a first paycheck, for others it’s a chance to earn extra money on a flexible schedule. But for many, it’s the first step on a career ladder with boundless opportunities.

In addition to offering the scheduling flexibility and upward mobility that have served as the hallmark of the industry for decades, more and more retailers are offering mentorship programs, leadership development, and skills training to ensure employees have the tools they need to succeed in life. Whether that means providing tech education to teens or skilled trade apprenticeships, or even on-the-job management training, retailers know investing in their employees is key to their future success.

It’s for these very reasons that each year, thousands of people across the country, including many this spring season, choose to plant their roots in retail.

We can’t wait to see how they grow.

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Survey: More consumers buying CPG products direct online

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumer packaged goods (CPG), once purchased almost exclusively in stores, are quickly moving into the digital realm as more and more consumers are researching and purchasing CPG products online.

That’s according to a Periscope By McKinsey survey, in which at least 70% of the respondents were found to doing undertaking some form of online CPG shopping activity, with French (40%) and U.K. (39%) consumers exhibiting the greatest balance of multichannel shopping preferences followed by German (33%) and U.S. (32%) shoppers.

The top two factors influencing online CPG purchasing decisions by U.S. shoppers were price and free delivery (57%). Promotions and discounts were a close third for consumers in every country except Germany, where 30% of respondents said product descriptions were the next most important factor.

Highlights from the survey include:

• Online shoppers prefer non-perishable categories in CPG. Non-edible and durable food items are performing considerably better than perishable products like dairy and bread, revealing shopper hesitation about purchasing these types of products online.

Also, beauty and personal care products topped the shopping list for consumers in the U.S. (38%), and also in France (47%), the U.K. and Germany (46%). cleaning supplies were included in the “Top 4” product categories consumers had shopped online within the past two months.

• Discounts and bulk purchasing options drive online purchasing. When asked to evaluate how their online shopping habits differ from shopping in-store, consumers in all markets said they are more likely to buy more in bulk online and are willing to spend more if they can identify discounts and offers.

• Age plays a role in CPG shopping channel preferences. Millennial shoppers (aged 18-29) were the largest group in each country surveyed, except the U.K., to only or mostly undertake their shopping for CPG products online. Interestingly, in the U.S., 22% of respondents who shop for CPG items only online were aged 50-59.

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