Today in Retail: Discount Stores Become More Popular as Inflation Rises; UK Modernizes ‘Basket of Goods’ to Reflect Consumption Habits


Today in retail, SoftBank sells $1 billion in shares of eCommerce platform Coupang while brand aggregator Flummox raises $12.9 million to invest in its portfolio. Plus, Walmart invites innovators to apply for its ninth annual Open Call event, Amazon’s share of eCommerce hits an all-time high and adidas joins TrusTrace Material Traceability & Compliance.

Brand Aggregator Flummox Raises $12.9M

Brand aggregator Flummox has raised $12.9 million (11.8 million euros) in a fundraising round led by Swiss company Fasanara Capital. The company will invest in its portfolio, adding at least 15 new brands, and hire specialists to strengthen its proprietary IP in sourcing, operating and scaling brands online.

Flummox buys and scales online consumer brands with yearly sales less than $1 million and a “predominant presence” on Amazon or Shopify across multiple online channels.

Discount Stores Gaining More Ground in Paycheck-to-Paycheck Economy

More than half (56%) of the 2,100 people PYMNTS recently surveyed had shopped at a discount store in the past month, including 12% who have visited discount stores even if they haven’t bought anything, implying that individuals and families are comparing prices.

PYMNTS research also showed how firmly entrenched the pivot toward finding cheaper goods really is, with more than half of all income groups — not just lower income individuals at less than $50,000 annually — have been shopping at discount stores, including consumers who make more than $100,000 annually.

Within this earnings group, a greater percentage — an additional 14% — are browsing the aisles, even if they are not making purchases.

Walmart Kicks Off Annual Product ‘Gong Show’ With Open Invite to Entrepreneurs

Walmart on Monday (March 14) opened the application period for its ninth annual Open Call event, a major driver of products and innovation for the largest retailer in the U.S., as it looks to add more merchants to its marketplace.

The company said it has received more than 2,000 applications for more than 6,000 products from small business owners and entrepreneurs through the first early access period in Open Call event history. The application period ends April 8.

Applicants selected to participate in this year’s Open Call will be able to choose whether to make a virtual or in-person pitch with a Walmart or Sam’s Club merchant June 28-29.

Men’s Suits, Doughnuts Out, Jog Bras, Pet Supplies In As UK Modernizes Inflation Basket

The U.S. Consumer Price Index is running at a 40-plus-year high of 7.9%, but British bureaucrats have beat America to the punch by modernizing their official basket of goods to better reflect consumers’ current consumption habits in revisions Monday (March 14) from the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics.

Men’s suits, doughnuts, coal and a dozen other goods and services have been given the boot from the government’s survey sample, while 19 new items have moved in to take their place, including meat-free sausages, sports bras, pet collars and antibacterial surface wipes.

The U.K. Office of National Statistics said on Twitter that the increase in people working from home was the reason why men’s suits were being replaced with men’s formal jackets. The departure of doughnuts was due to declining sales, while domestic coal was kicked out as sales are being banned in the country in 2023.

Adidas Joins Sustainability Verification Initiative That Will Audit ‘Green’ Claims

Stockholm-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform TrusTrace on Monday (March 14) launched TrusTrace Material Traceability & Compliance, which allows for “near real-time traceability at the material level,” according to the company press release.

The sustainability verification initiative “gives brands granular visibility into product sustainability metrics, ensuring compliance with standards and regulations, and enabling streamlined decision-making and tighter integration with suppliers worldwide,” according to the press release.

Sports apparel and footwear brand adidas is one of the first large companies to adopt TrusTrace Material Traceability & Compliance.

SoftBank Sells $1B in Shares of eCommerce Platform Coupang

SoftBank’s Vision Fund has sold $1 billion with of shares in South Korean eCommerce company Coupang, Reuters reported Monday (March 14).

The fund sold 50 million shares in Coupang at $20.87 each, leaving it with 461.2 million shares remaining. Reuters said the sale follows a $1.69 billion selloff in September of last year. SoftBank first invested in Coupang in 2015.

Amazon’s Share of US eCommerce Sales Hits All-Time High of 56.7% in 2021

Nearly 60% of all online retail purchases in the U.S. were done on Amazon last year, new PYMNTS data show, reflecting the company’s tightening grip on eCommerce sales and a continuation of the stair-step market share advance it has made over the past 20 years.