/ Shiftonomics by Branch

☕ New Seasonal Drinks, Healthcare Pilots, and Forecasts

A Note From The Editor 👋

☕ McDonald's announces first seasonal drink in more than 5 years with Cinnamon Cookie Latte

💊Walmart to test programs for U.S. workers to cut its healthcare costs

🗺Here’s a map of the Forever 21 stores that could close by the end of the year

🐕How PetSmart Swallowed Chewy—and Proved the Doubters Wrong

📈NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales Will Grow Between 3.8 and 4.2 Percent

Happy October, ghouls and goblins! This edition of Shifto includes the latest alternative to the PSL courtesy of McDonald’s first seasonal drink in 5+ years, Walmart’s new regional pilot healthcare programs, new stories on the retail evolution with Forever 21 and PetSmart, and highlights from NRF’s 2019 Holiday Forecast. And in case you missed our webinar on financial wellness, scroll down for the presentation link.

☕McDonald's announces first seasonal drink in more than 5 years with Cinnamon Cookie Latte | Via USA TODAY

Just as thought everything has turned pumpkin, USA Today’s Kelly Tyko reports that McDonald’s has shaken things up and announced the launch of a new seasonal drink that’s not pumpkin.

Announcing its first seasonal drink in more than five years, McDonald’s is adding a Cinnamon Cookie Latte and bringing back its McCafé Donut Sticks with a new chocolate dipping sauce.

Both items will be available for a limited time, starting Nov. 6 and throughout the holidays, along with new winter-themed holiday cups.

💊Walmart to test programs for U.S. workers to cut its healthcare costs | Via Reuters

Reuters’ Nandita Bose reports that Walmart will begin several healthcare pilot programs for its U.S. employees starting Jan. 1 as it looks for ways to cut healthcare costs - one of the largest expenses for the retailer after wages.

Many of the programs will vary by region -- the company will test a concierge service iun North Carolina and South Carolina to address issues with billing, fix appointments, understand a diagnosis and find a provider. In Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota, Walmart will expand a program that allows patients to video chat with a doctor from home for $4 per chat.
In addition to healthcare services for employees, the company is also beefing up its presence in the fast-growing health and wellness market in the country.

🗺Here’s a map of the Forever 21 stores that could close by the end of the year | Via CNBC

Following the announcement of Forever 21’s bankruptcy filing, CNBC’s Lauren Thomas wrote about the list of the stores the fast-fashion retailer is planning to close in bankruptcy proceedings.

Forever 21 announced plans to close nearly 180 locations as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, with the planned closures representing about a third of Forever 21′s entire fleet of stores in the U.S.
There is only one location on the list belonging to Simon Property Group, which is also one of Forever 21′s top unsecured creditors.

🐕How PetSmart Swallowed Chewy—and Proved the Doubters Wrong | Via WSJ

Wall Street Journal’s Miriam Gottfried dives into PetSmart’s purchase of fast growing online retailer Chewy and how it defied the market’s poo-poo(ch)ed expectations.

In April 2017, PetSmart paid $3.35 billion for Chewy in what was then the largest e-commerce deal ever. The purchase was criticized by PetSmart’s lenders and the wider market as a bet-the-company move that would force PetSmart to add $2 billion in debt to the $6 billion it already had, all to buy an unprofitable rival.

These days, Chewy is worth about $11 billion, and PetSmart is shaping up to be one of the most successful private-equity turnarounds in history.

📈NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales Will Grow Between 3.8 and 4.2 Percent | Via NRF

The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales during November and December to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over 2018 to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.

The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compare with an average holiday sales increase of 3.7 percent over the previous five years.

Even with trade uncertainty and the increasingly tight labor market, NRF expects retailers to hire between 530,000 and 590,000 temporary workers, on par with last year’s demand of 554,000 in 2018.

💸Financial Wellness Webinar Recap | Via Branch

Missed our webinar on Financial Wellness? Not to worry, get your own copy of the presentation here.