Shoppers walk past a Bloomingdale’s store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York, US, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images
After benefitting from a pandemic-era shopping spree, retailers are preparing for a reality check.
Walmart and Home Depot will kick off retail earnings season Tuesday by sharing holiday-quarter results. Other big-name retailers will follow, including big-box players like Target and Best Buy, and mall staples like Macy’s and Gap.
The companies’ reports will come as recession fears cloud the year ahead. Americans are more worried about inflation now than they are about Covid. People are choosing to spend more on dining out, traveling and other services while cutting back on goods. Higher interest rates threaten the housing market.
A slowdown in sales growth also seems likely after the sharp increases of the past three years.
For investors, the end of retail’s sugar high brings a mixed picture. Companies may share modest sales outlooks. Yet healthier profit margins could be a silver lining, as freight costs fall and retailers have less excess merchandise to mark down. Plus, companies may have more cautious spending plans, such as smaller inventory orders and a slowdown in hiring. That could boost profit margins, even if consumers don’t spend as freely.
“The world is focused on top-line momentum,” said David Silverman, a retail analyst at Fitch Ratings. “So many market participants are focused on what revenue is what revenue is what revenue is.”
But, he added, “it’s the operating profit that could bounce back nicely from a difficult 2022.”
Silverman said retailers’ strategies have flipped from a year ago. Then, they bet on sky-high sales becoming the new normal and made riskier bets, from placing bigger orders to paying extra to expedite shipments. That hurt companies’ margins, as unsold merchandise wound up on the clearance rack and costs crept up, along with sales.
A dose of reality over the holidays
Already, retailers have gotten a dose of reality. Walmart, Target and Macy’s are among the companies that have spoken about a more careful consumer.
Several retailers already previewed holiday results. Macy’s warned that holiday-quarter sales would come in on the lighter side of its expectations. Nordstrom said weaker sales and more markdowns hurt its November and December results. Lululemon said its profit margins would be lower than anticipated, as the athletic apparel retailer juggles excess inventory.
Industry-wide holiday results fell below expectations, too, according to the National Retail Federation. Sales in November and December grew 5.3% year over year to $936.3 billion, below the major trade group’s prediction for growth of between 6% and 8% over the year prior. In early November, NRF had projected spending of between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.
Retail leaders have looked closely for clues, as they gear up for the coming fiscal year. (Most retailers’ fiscal years end in January.)
Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC last month that the department store operator noticed fewer holiday shoppers buying items for themselves while shopping for gifts. He said those lower purchases “more than offset the good news that we were getting on gifting and occasion.”
The company’s credit card data flashed warning signs, too, he added: Customers’ balances on Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and co-branded American Express credit cards are rising and more of those balances are getting carried to the next month rather than paid off.
“When we look at our credit portfolio, you’ve got a customer that’s coming under more pressure,” he said.
Tough calls, cautious outlooks
Some retailers have already made some difficult moves to prepare for what could be a tough year. Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and Saks.com, the e-commerce retailer spun off from Saks Fifth Avenue stores, have both had recent layoffs. Stitch Fix laid off 20% of its corporate workforce. Wayfair laid off 10% of its global workforce. Amazon began cutting over 18,000 employees, including many in its retail division.
Target in November said it would cut up to $3 billion in total costs over the next three years, as it warned of a slower holiday season. It did not provide specifics on that plan. The company will report its fourth-quarter results on Feb. 28.
Many retail leaders said they anticipate cost-cutting measures for their workforces in the next 12 months, too, such as hiring temporary workers rather than full-time employees, according to a survey of 300 retail executives in December by consulting firm AlixPartners. Thirty-seven percent said they expect slowing raises or promotions and 28% said they expect cutting benefits at their companies in the coming year.
Of those surveyed, 19% said layoffs had happened at their companies in the last 12 months and 19% said they expect layoffs to happen in the next 12 months.
Marie Driscoll, an analyst covering beauty, luxury and fashion for retail advisory firm Coresight Research, said she expects companies to give other line items a closer look, such as free shipping and returns, as well as digital marketing expenses.
As interest rates rise, she said retailers may “find operating religion.”
“Retailers are looking at their businesses and saying not every sale is worth having,” she said. “The fact that there is a real cost of money is changing the way that companies are looking at their business.”
Yet some factors still work in retailers’ favor, she said. The tight labor market could give consumers the confidence to spend, even as inflation remains hot. People are dressing up and buying fragrances as they go out again, a factor that may have lifted January retail sales along with more spending at bars and restaurants.
“A lot of it is dependent on their consumer and the strength of their brand,” Driscoll said. “There’s strength out there.”
From Cartel to Evangelist: The Inspiring Journey of Juan Reyes, Puerto Rico’s Entrepreneur and Author
In the realm of entrepreneurship, few stories are as captivating and inspiring as that of Juan Reyes, a self-made entrepreneur and author hailing from Juncos, Puerto Rico. Despite being born into a low-income family, Reyes defied the odds and carved his path to success through sheer determination, hard work, and an unwavering commitment to his goals. From establishing thriving businesses to becoming a renowned author, Reyes’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the indomitable spirit of an individual driven by faith and dedication.
A Journey Born out of Necessity
Growing up in Juncos, Puerto Rico, Juan Reyes faced significant challenges stemming from his family’s financial limitations. To support himself and contribute to his family’s well-being, Reyes began working from a young age. However, he never allowed his circumstances to dampen his dreams or extinguish his ambition. Determined to change his destiny, Reyes embarked on a path that would not only uplift his own life but also inspire countless others.
A Multifaceted Entrepreneur
Reyes’s entrepreneurial acumen led him to establish several successful ventures that have made a profound impact. Among his notable accomplishments are King of Credit Repair LLC, KCL Clothing Inc, and Shalom Renovation LLC. These enterprises not only generated substantial revenue but also provided employment opportunities for others. Reyes’s astute understanding of business markets, coupled with his expertise in real estate, notary services, modeling, and preaching, contributed to his ability to transform businesses from scratch into multi-million dollar ventures.
Authorship and Beyond
In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Juan Reyes is also a respected author. His debut book, “From the Cartel to the Evangelist,” has garnered significant attention and acclaim. This captivating literary work chronicles Reyes’s personal journey, from overcoming adversity to finding redemption and purpose through his faith. The book serves as a testament to Reyes’s resilience and unwavering determination, inspiring readers to believe in their own potential and navigate their own paths to success.
Sponsored by Christian Faith Publishing
Reyes’s literary endeavors have received a significant boost through the sponsorship of Christian Faith Publishing. This collaboration has allowed Reyes to reach a wider audience with his powerful message of transformation, faith, and the pursuit of entrepreneurship. The partnership between Reyes and Christian Faith Publishing (visit the website here) has opened doors for him to inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals seeking personal growth.
Recognizing the significance of his own journey, Juan Reyes has made it his mission to give back to society and uplift others. Through speaking engagements and mentoring programs, Reyes shares his knowledge, unique ideas, and experiences with business leaders and young individuals alike. His teachings have become a beacon of hope for those who have faced similar challenges and made similar mistakes, demonstrating that even a fallen business can rise to great heights.
The Pride of Juncos, Puerto Rico
Juan Reyes remains deeply connected to his roots in Juncos, Puerto Rico. His success story has not only become a source of pride for the local community but also an inspiration for the youth in the neighborhood. Reyes’s achievements serve as a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship, instilling hope and motivating aspiring entrepreneurs to strive for greatness despite their circumstances.
Juan Reyes’s journey from a humble upbringing in Juncos, Puerto Rico, to becoming a renowned entrepreneur and author is a testament to the triumph of resilience, determination, and faith. Through his businesses, writing, and mentorship, Reyes exemplifies the boundless potential that lies within every individual. He reminds us that with unwavering dedication and a strong belief in oneself, anyone can rise above adversity and create a life of purpose and success. Juan Reyes is an inspiration, not only to entrepreneurs but to all those who dare to dream big and overcome the odds.
Disney CEO Bob Iger rips Ron DeSantis over ‘anti-Florida’ retaliation
Bob Iger, CEO, Disney, during CNBC interview, Feb. 9, 2023.
Randy Shropshire | CNBC
Bob Iger on Monday called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ actions against The Walt Disney Co. retaliatory, “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”
The feud between DeSantis and the company escalated earlier Monday, when the governor asked the state’s inspector general to determine whether the House of Mouse’s sly move to retain control over the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties is legal – and whether any of the company’s executives were involved in the scheme.
During the company’s annual shareholder meeting Monday, Disney CEO Iger addressed investor inquiries about the ongoing dispute between the company and Florida legislators. He noted that Disney has more than 75,000 employees in the state, and has created thousands of indirect jobs, as well as brings around 50 million visitors to Florida every year and is the state’s largest taxpayer
“A year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation,” Iger said, apparently referring to what critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “And while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”
He added: “The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me.”
Iger said Disney plans to spend more than $17 billion in investments at Walt Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.
“Our point on this is that any action that supports those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida,” he said. “And I’ll just leave it at that.”
Last week, DeSantis’ newly appointed board of the Reedy Creek district, now named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, revealed that the previous Disney-allied board signed a long-lasting agreement that drastically limits the control that can be exercised over the company and its district.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during ‘The Florida Blueprint’ event on Long Island, New York, United States on April 1, 2023. Ron DeSantis made comments on the Grand Jury’s indictment of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States in Manhattan, New York.
Kyle Mazza | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The agreement was signed on Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put DeSantis in charge. DeSantis replaced all of the Disney-allied board members with five Republicans on Feb. 27. It was only then that Disney’s new binding agreement was discovered.
The agreement includes a clause that dates back to 1692 in Britain. The “Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration,” the document said.
The governor’s letter calls the board’s agreement an attempt to “usurp the authority of the CFTOD board” and “nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians.”
He said at the agreement also has “legal infirmities” including inadequate notice, improper delegation of authority and ethical violations.
Disney, however, has said that all of the board’s maneuvers were completely legal — the agreement was discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums, in compliance with Florida’s Sunshine law.
The development in DeSantis’ conflict with Disney marks just the latest move in one of several partisan battles being waged by the Republican governor.
DeSantis is widely believed to be laying the groundwork to launch a 2024 presidential campaign. That move is expected to come not long after the current Florida legislative session ends in early May. Polls show that DeSantis is the most competitive of the potential opponents for former President Donald Trump in a GOP primary.
The Florida governor took aim at Disney after the company publicly balked at Florida’s HB 1557 law early last year. HB 1557, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limits early education teachings on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Republican state Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last April that the bill dissolving Reedy Creek wasn’t retaliatory, but then said “when Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we looked at special districts.”
Until recently, there had been no major public discussion about dissolving Disney’s long-established special district, which it’s occupied for 55 years, leading DeSantis’ critics to question its timing and the speed at which the governor acted against the company.
The fight between DeSantis and Disney shows no signs of slowing down. During a book tour stop in Georgia last week, DeSantis told attendees “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
WWE near deal to be sold to UFC parent Endeavor, sources say
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon appears in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images
A deal could be announced as soon as Monday. UFC and WWE are expected to form a new publicly traded company as part of the agreement, according to the people, who declined to be named due to the confidential nature of the discussions.
Endeavor is slated to own 51% of the new combat sports and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders would get 49%, according to the people. The Endeavor deal gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion, they said.
Emanuel is expected to act as chief executive of both Endeavor and the new company. McMahon, likewise, is expected to be executive chairman, while Endeavor President Mark Shapiro will also work in the same role at the new company. Dana White will remain as president of UFC, while WWE CEO Nick Khan will serve as president of the wrestling business.
The development comes during the same weekend WWE hosts its flagship live event, WrestleMania, in California. The company has spent the past several months looking for a buyer. McMahon returned to the company as chairman in January to oversee the process. Shares of WWE are up more than 33% so far this year, giving it a market value of more than $6.79 billion.
The deal will effectively end WWE’s decades-old status as a family-run business. McMahon’s father founded WWE in its original incarnation during the middle of the 20th century, and McMahon is the controlling shareholder in the company. McMahon bought the company from his father in 1982. Since then, the company has grown into a global phenomenon, spawing stars suck as Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista and John Cena.
McMahon, 77, retired from the company in July following a string of revelations that he paid several women millions of dollars over the years to keep them quiet about alleged affairs and misconduct. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, became co-CEO alongside Khan. Paul Levesque, who’s both Stephanie McMahon’s husband and the wrestler known as Triple H, took over creative duties from Vince McMahon.
When Vince McMahon came back in January, Stephanie McMahon stepped down and Khan fully assumed the CEO role. The elder McMahon recently locked in a two-year employment contract, according to a securities filing.
Khan in recent weeks has been making the media rounds to discuss the potential sale. He told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday that it’s been a robust sale process, drawing many interested buyers.
WWE brings with it a robust media and live events business, along with its decades worth of intellectual property. The company generated $1.29 billion in revenue last year, driven mainly by its $1 billion media unit.
UFC has paid off for Endeavor. Last year, the MMA league helped Endeavor’s sports business make $1.3 billion in revenue. Endeavor’s market cap stood at about $10.53 billion as of Friday’s close. The Endeavor-WWE deal values UFC at more than $12 billion.
WWE, at least at a glance, would also fit well with the cultures at Endeavor and UFC. McMahon has a brash public persona, making him an apparently good match for Emanuel and White, who are also known for their outsized personalities.
White, like McMahon, is no stranger to scandal, either. Earlier this year, video emerged showing the UFC boss slapping his wife during a public argument at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico. White apologized.
Disclosure: Peacock, the streaming service owned by CNBC parent NBCUniversal, carries WWE events such as WrestleMania.
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