Retail Pulse: Recess Opens ‘IRL’ Pop-Up In NY; Walgreens To Accept Alipay In More Stores


eCommerce brands are opening up pop-up shops in cities to test out brick-and-mortar retail, and Recess is using this platform to highlight its hemp-extract beverages in a temporary space in New York City that is dubbed the Take A Recess IRL Pop-Up. The company offers a line of sparkling beverages that contain L-theanine and hemp extract — a product that has been dubbed the “LaCroix of cannabis.”

The temporary space, which is said to be around for three months at a minimum, is home to refrigerators that showcase Recess’ colorful product packaging. (The beverages themselves come in flavors such as pom hibiscus and peach ginger.) But the aim of the space is to have consumers experience the brand and relax, while helping the brand gain awareness in markets such as New York City. Recess Founder Benjamin Witte told AdWeek, “This is designed to be more accessible than something like a meditation studio.”

The Recess space also has an experiential retail component, with events taking place in the store. Upcoming programs include “Acupuncture for Creativity,” a “Presentation Party” and “An Oddly Satisfying Sunday,” according to the brand’s website. The space itself has chairs that were created in a way that gives visitors many different seating positions. In a CNBC report, Witte described the design ethos of the store this way: “In this space I want you to feel like you are walking into Instagram ... or walking into a billboard.”

And, while Recess only has a lease for a few months, it was reported that the company would probably stay longer. Witte told CNBC, “It's a little bit of an experiment.” Beyond New York, the outlet reported that Recess is intending to have a second location in Los Angeles. At the same time, the brand is looking beyond brick-and-mortar retail and mulling having vending machines for its products.

Recess, however, is not the only brand bringing CBD-related products into brick-and-mortar stores.

This week, Barneys New York unveiled a luxury cannabis lifestyle and wellness concept shop called “The High End” that is said to open in March. While the concept would open at the retailer’s Beverly Hills flagship at the time, there are reportedly plans to bring it to other locations in the future. And Green Growth Brands said in January that it had entered an agreement with retailer DSW to sell hemp-derived CBD personal care products at some of the retailer’s locations, as brands such as Recess bring beverages made with hemp extract to the world of brick-and-mortar.

In Other Brick-And-Mortar News

Walgreens teamed up with Alipay to bring the company’s mobile payments platform to locations throughout the U.S. While Alipay is available at 3,000 of the pharmacy retailer’s locations in cities such as San Francisco and New York, the service is set to expand to over 7,000 Walgreens locations by April. The move will reportedly make the company the largest U.S. drugstore chain to use Alipay.

Walgreens President of Operations Richard Ashworth said in a press release, “Walgreens is focused on making shopping more convenient for our customers. This collaboration has particular significance for our customer population from China, who now have a new way to experience Walgreens.” This announcement comes a little over a month after Walgreens said that it was bringing handheld mobile computers as well as tablets from Zebra Technologies Corporation into its stores across the U.S.

In other news, Crate and Barrel is working with home services platform Handy to provide home decor installation and  furniture assembly services in the U.S. Shoppers can request a worker from the platform to come to their home from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. through the offering, which is available at 90 Crate and Barrel stores. But shoppers will only be able to request the offerings in the stores — and not for products purchased through the retailer’s website at the moment.

As it stands, Handy also offers services such as television mounting and furniture assembly via partnerships with Wayfair, Walmart and eBay. IKEA, however, acquired Handy competitor TaskRabbit in 2017. The deal was the first acquisition of its kind by Ikea in the U.S. As a whole, the home furnishings market in the U.S. is said to be worth about $282 billion.

And a consumer spending indicator posted its biggest decline in a decade, as consumers contained their spending at the end of last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail sales dropped by 1.2 percent in December compared to a 0.1 percent rise in sales that economists in one survey were expecting. Department store sales slid by 3.3 percent from the prior month, as sales at book and sporting goods retailers fell by 4.9 percent.

Sales at non-store retailers — such as — saw a decrease of 3.9 percent from the prior month as restaurant sales slipped by 0.7 percent. Gas station sales fell by 5.1 percent from the month before, however, gas prices on average reportedly dropped from $2.65 a gallon in November to $2.37 in December. And sales at health and personal care stores fell by 2 percent.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.



About: Accelerating The Real-Time Payments Demand Curve:What Banks Need To Know About What Consumers Want And Need, PYMNTS  examines consumers’ understanding of real-time payments and the methods they use for different types of payments. The report explores consumers’ interest in real-time payments and their willingness to switch to financial institutions that offer such capabilities.