Retail’s Ups And Downs: Rate Hikes, Dollar Stores And EpiPens

The world of retail can be a lot like riding a roller coaster. Here's this week's winners and losers.

Retail’s a tough racket. One minute, you can have the hottest product or store on the block — think Aéropostale about a decade ago — and the next, no one wants to buy the product any longer, the brand is now suddenly considered uncool and nobody’s shopping there any longer (think Aéropostale today).

And nothing is worse than a bad product launch or poorly planned marketing strategy. Just ask NBA superstar James Harden, who has been the subject of intense online ridicule this past week or so after images of his first-ever, Adidas-designed sneaker leaked online.

Let’s just say, the pics weren’t well-received by the sneaker-loving community, and Harden’s been hearing it on social media ever since.

With that said, PYMNTS decided to take a look at some of retail’s biggest winners and losers of the moment.



The first Up is actually leading to some downs in the stock market, as it is looking more and more likely that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again sooner rather than later. Rates were hiked for the first time in years back in December on data that the U.S. and global economies were steadily improving, and when Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen spoke about the state of the economy on Friday (Aug. 26) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, she indicated that the Fed is eyeing raising interest rates again, possibly as early as September.

Ironically, this news and speculation over an improved economy has sent the stock market lower in the past few days.


Amazon Books also announced plans for its fourth physical retail location — this one planned for the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. The 7,200-square-foot bookstore will occupy space formerly taken up by a bar and grill and will join other physical Amazon Books locations in Seattle, San Diego and Portland, Oregon (the San Diego and Portland stores have been announced but have not opened yet).


And it’s a good time to be a coupon as well, as a recent survey found that 58 percent of all respondents reported using more print coupons over the past year, while 38 percent said they are using more mobile coupons and 32 percent said they were using online coupons or coupon codes more often as well. Half of those surveyed also said they had visited a shop or restaurant after receiving a deal on their mobile device while they were near the location.



It’s not currently a good time to be a dollar store, though. The stock of America’s largest two dollar stores, Dollar Tree and Dollar General, both took some serious hits last week after both reported disappointing quarterly sales and earnings that missed Wall Street estimates. But Bloomberg attributed the disappointing quarter for dollar stores to Walmart’s increasingly successful efforts to attract many of those same customers by offering steeper discounts on items that a consumer might typically buy at a dollar store, like laundry detergent or snacks. In fact, Walmart’s sales rose in the second quarter at the expense of Dollar Tree’s and Dollar General’s sales.


It’s not a good time to be Aéropostale either, as it looks increasingly likely that the once-highly popular teen retail chain now in bankruptcy will become a victim of a liquidation sale after a judge ruled last week that Sycamore Partners, which took a $150 million stake in Aéropostale in 2014, could push for a liquidation as a means to recoup its investment.


The makers of the EpiPen, Mylan, didn’t have too good a week either, after the company came under increasingly harsh scrutiny for drastic price increases to the device that some say is vital to treating allergic reactions. Mylan acquired the patent for the EpiPen in 2007 and has increased prices of the drug and patented delivery system about 500 percent since then. The drugmaker has pledged to release a generic version of the EpiPen that it says will retail for around $300, but for many, the damage to the company’s brand and reputation has already been done.



The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.

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