Today in Retail: Shopify’s Holiday Shoppers and Subscribers Feed Q4 Boom; WHSmith Launches Checkout-Free LGA Store


Today in retail, Saks finally makes its TikTok debut, well behind its fashion competitors, while WHSmith debuts a checkout-free store in LaGuardia Airport. Plus, Shopify rides holiday shopping and subscriptions to a successful fourth quarter, and department stores and eCommerce drive 3.8% retail sales growth in January.

WHSmith Opens Checkout-Free Store at LaGuardia Airport

Retailer WHSmith on Tuesday (Feb. 15) opened its first checkout-free store in LaGuardia Airport in New York. The first WHSmith location in the U.S. — other stores across the country use the InMotion and MRG branding — and uses Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology.

“With just a tap of a credit card, customers can enter the store, pick up their desired items, and leave. We look forward to welcoming many new customers to the store,” WHSmith said in its LinkedIn post.

In December, travel retailer Hudson became the first company in its industry to offer Amazon’s palm recognition service, Amazon One. The technology is available at the Hudson Nonstop store at Dallas’ Love Field Airport.

Dept Stores, eCommerce Lead Surprise 3.8% Bounce in January Retail Sales

Retail sales posted their biggest gain in 10 months in January, bouncing back 3.8% after a 2.5% decline in December, the U.S. Department of Commerce said in a press release Wednesday (Feb. 16).

January’s retail rebound was led by a 14.5% increase in eCommerce or so-called non-store retailers, a 9.2% jump at department stores, a 7.2% increase in furniture and home furnishings and 4.1% month-on-month boost in building materials and garden equipment.

Specialty stores, under the sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstore heading, slid 3%, with gas stations (-1.3%), food service and drinking places (-0.9%) and health and personal care stores (-0.3) the only decliners among 16 different business types measured.

Saks Shows Up Fashionably Late to Raging TikTok Party

Luxury eCommerce platform Saks has joined TikTok, nine months after Nordstrom, 15 months behind Neiman Marcus and half a decade behind the U.S. debut of the social media platform that doubles as a hotspot for eCommerce.

Saks said it plans to use the site’s short-form video format to bring compelling digital content to customers that will give followers a fun and engaging way to experience the world of luxury fashion and beauty. The company dropped nine videos by four content creators in its TikTok debut, garnering about 1,500 followers, received 1,300 likes and had nearly 20,000 views on its first day.

Nordstrom has about 22,000 TikTok followers and 1.7 million likes since its May launch and Neiman Marcus has 10,800 followers and 21,000 likes.

Holiday Shoppers, Subscribers Boost Shopify 2021 Q4, Yearly Numbers

Shopify’s platform topped $6.3 billion in sales from the start of Black Friday in New Zealand through the end of Cyber Monday in California, up from about $5.1 billion in the same period in 2020, according to the company’s quarterly and annual earnings report released Wednesday (Feb. 16).

Shopify customers are also starting to become long-term advocates for the company, with subscriptions to the platform up 26% year over year to $351.2 million, thanks in large part to more merchants joining the platform.