News Briefs


Walmart exec joins Nordstrom c-suite

 nordstrom Jason Morrisas

Nordstrom has appointed Jason Morrisas as chief technology and information officer, effective May 1, 2023. He succeeds Edmond Mesrobian, who departed the company in October 2022.

Morris joins the department store retailer from Walmart, where he most recently led global enterprise technology as senior VP, enterprise business services.  Prior to that, Morris was Walmart’s VP of customer-facing technology and led strategy, system development and implementation of hardware and software in more than 10,000 locations globally.

Previously, Morris was responsible for technology development across many aspects of Walmart's retail business, including merchandising, replenishment, supplier management, real estate and global compliance.

At Nordstrom, Morris will oversee the company's technology functions, including engineering and data science and analytics. The retailer is on track to deploy radio frequency identification chain-wide this year.

"Jason has a wealth of experience leading large, global teams to create and implement best-in-class retail technology solutions," said Erik Nordstrom, CEO of Nordstrom. “He will play a critical role as we continue to advance our Closer to You market strategy, and we look forward to welcoming him to the team."

Unveiled earlier this year, Nordstrom’s “Closer to You” strategy is a comprehensive initiative that puts the focus on the retailer’s biggest growth opportunities, which include expanding its outlet division and digital sales.

"I have long admired Nordstrom as a retail leader in redefining the importance of digital," said Morris. "I am excited to join this talented technology team to continue enhancing Nordstrom's digital capabilities and support the company's ongoing focus on using technology to serve customers in new and better ways."


U.S. consumer sentiment inches up in April — so do inflation expectations


Consumers are feeling a bit better about the economy, but are more worried about inflation.

The overall consumer sentiment index ticked up 2.4% to 63.5 in early April from a four-month low of 62 in March, according to the University of Michigan’s preliminary reading for April.  Sentiment is now about 3% below a year ago, but 27% above the all-time low from last June.

“Rising sentiment for lower-income consumers was offset by declines among those with higher incomes," said Joanne Hsu, director, Surveys of Consumers. "While consumers have noted the easing of inflation among durable goods and cars, they still expect high inflation to persist, at least in the short run."

The index that measures what consumers think about current economic conditions rose to 68.6  in April from 66.3 in March.  The index of consumer expectations (for the next six months) inched up to 60.3 from 59.2 in March.

Year-ahead inflation expectations rose to 4.6% in April from 3.6% in March. Inflation expectations have been seesawing for four consecutive months, alternating between increases and decreases.

“Uncertainty over short-run inflation expectations continues to be notably elevated, indicating that the recent volatility in expected year-ahead inflation is likely to continue,” said Hsu. “The bumpiness in inflation expectations is limited to the short run as long-run inflation expectations remained remarkably stable.”

Long-run inflation expectations came in at 2.9% for the fifth consecutive month and have stayed within the narrow 2.9% to 3.1% range for 20 of the last 21 months. 

“While consumers have noted the easing of inflation among durable goods and cars, they still expect high inflation to persist, at least in the short run,” said Hsu.


Texas’s Fitness Connection: Cheap and on-the-leap


Pandemic Peloton poop-out caused a resurgence of fitness concepts in physical retail, one of them being a fast-growing Dallas-based chain called Fitness Connection.

With more than 30 gyms in the Lone Star State, concentrated largely in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metros, Fitness Connection opened its second gym in the San Antonio market this week and will open another there later this year.

One of the lowest entry-priced gyms in the United States, Fitness Connection costs just $10 a month for members who sign up for annual plans.

"We're thrilled to expand our reach in San Antonio and provide more people with a convenient, affordable, and inspiring way to achieve their fitness goals," said the chain’s CEO Patrick Flanagan.

Fitness Connection bills its spaces as “Your Gym Come True,” offering full-size basketball and pickleball courts, women’s workout areas, saunas, and a Kids Club with a mini basketball court and a theater.

"Our gyms offer more amenities, more equipment, and more space than any of our competitors,” Flanagan maintains.


Walmart taps 17-year Johnson Control veteran for new C-suite post

Walmart has entered into an agreement with CareSource to address racial health inequities.

Walmart has named its first-ever chief belonging officer.

 The retailer giant named A. Denise Malloy-Deaderick to the post,  which is an evolution of the chief diversity officer position. The appointment is effective April 14.

 Prior to Walmart, Malloy-Deaderick spent 17 years at Johnson Controls, most recently as senior director, market strategy diversity, a  newly-created position responsible for identifying, tracking and reporting diversity ROI to the business unit. 

In the role, she also was responsible for developing formal diversity processes and partnerships necessary to ensure the onboarding, development and promotion of exceptional talent, and worked with business and market leaders to significantly impact the workplace, marketplace and community.

Malloy-Deaderick also worked at J.P. Morgan and Xerox.

In a related post on her LinkedIn page, Malloy-Deaderick wrote that she looked forward to “diving in and engaging with the over 2 million associates around the globe to work toward workplace diversity and inclusion that drives equitable outcomes for all.”

“To my new, fellow Walmart associates, I’m excited to begin partnering with you to continue to create a culture where we all feel we belong,” she added.


Mastercard: Retail sales up 4.7% year-over-year in March

millennial shoppers

Consumers continue to prioritize experiences and essentials in their spending. 

U.S. retail sales increased 4.7% year-over-year in March, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales, excluding automotive, across all forms of payment. (The metric reflects nominal spending and is not adjusted for inflation.)

At a national level, nominal spending growth was down slightly compared to February, which saw a 6.9% year-over-year increase. Spending trends in March, however, were consistent with those experienced earlier this year.

In other March results, e-commerce sales were up 13.0% year-over-year, while in-store sales rose 2.8%. Restaurant sales grew 11.6% and grocery sales rose 5.6%.

The home improvement, home furniture/furnishings and electronics sectors continued to experience a dip in year-over-year growth as consumers prioritized experiences and essentials, noted Mastercard.

“There are a number of factors influencing how today’s consumer is shopping including inflation, the labor market, food and gas prices, and the path of interest rates,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “But they’re still spending -- we’re seeing varied growth sector by sector, with purchases largely shifting to necessities and experiences.”


Shoe City liquidating; Gordon Brothers to sell store leases

out of business

Esco Ltd. (doing business as Shoe City) has filed for bankruptcy.

The Baltimore-based athletic footwear and apparel chain, which has been in business for more than 70 years, operates 39 stores throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on March 31, and the bankruptcy court authorized going-out-of-business sales.

Gordon Brothers announced it will sell retail leases and operate going-out-of-business sales at all 39 Shoe City locations. The stores range in size from 2,000 to 9,900 sq. ft., and include street front, regional mall and strip center sites.

“These leases offer a fantastic opportunity for retailers looking to expand their footprint,” said James Avallone, senior managing director, real estate at Gordon Brothers. “The stores offer high-traffic locations with attractive co-tenancy and favorable lease terms with options.”

Beginning April 6, storewide price reductions go into effect at all store locations with up to 30% off original prices on the entire stock of athletic footwear and apparel, including new arrivals and highly sought-after brands.

Additionally, store fixtures are available for purchase throughout the going-out-of-business sales.

For additional details, including lease sale deadlines and lease terms for individual locations, contact James Avallone at [email protected] or Sharon Haggard at [email protected].