Bethany Biron/Business Insider
Hello!Welcome to another week of The Drive-Thru, where I'll be breaking down the biggest stories in shopping, fast food, and more. You can sign up to become a Drive-Thru subscriber here - which means that every Friday, I'll send you a rundown on what happened in retail over the last week.And, this week was a busy one!
The CEOs of Under Armour and Nike announce surprise departures on the same day.
Hours later, Nike announced that CEO Mark Parker would be stepping down after 13 years, to be replaced by former eBay CEO John Donahoe.It came as a surprise that the two executives would make such similar announcements on the same day.Experts are hoping that Frisk brings change and reinvention to Under Armour, while some are questioning the decision against bringing in fresh blood. Meanwhile, Donahoe is set to continue Parker's digital push at Nike, though some analysts voiced confusion as to why Nike didn't promote internally.
- Bethany on why Frisk has his work cut out for him on reinventing Under Armour, as Plank continues to do more big-picture work on fixing the brand's reputation.
- Mary on how Parker represents another step in the "digital transformation" that Nike is constantly talking about, and why that might be bad news for mom-and-pop retailers.
Nordstrom's flagship store is out of control.
Bethany Biron/Business Insider
- Massive crowds that made it almost impossible to shop.
- Facial workouts by FaceGym.
- A gender-neutral bathroom sign made out of lipstick.
- Mochi doughnuts, a bar, and an Instagram-ready Burberry café.
Barneys' bankruptcy and sale to Authentic Brands Group for $271 million has been seen by many as the death of a certain brand of luxury retail that once thrived, especially in New York City. Nordstrom clearly wants to help usher in a new era of experimental luxury shopping. But, it remains to be seen if a selfie-centric store can actually bring people back to old-school shopping centers.Check out what it was like to visit Nordstrom's flagship store on its opening day here.
Chick-fil-A's reputation might actually be catching up with the chain.
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
Chick-fil-A's first store in the UK will be short-lived, with the shopping center saying it won't renew the chain's lease when it's up in six months.It was never really clear whether Chick-fil-A actually wanted to keep this "pilot" location in Reading open in the long term. And, the chain quietly opened a location in Scotland around the same time, and that restaurant hasn't shown any sign of closing.
I tend to be skeptical of how much bad press actually impacts Chick-fil-A. Sales have more than doubled since 2012, reaching $10.5 billion in 2018, up from $4.6 billion. But, it does seem like the protest led by LGBTQ activists in Reading and online backlash played a role in the closure - or, at the very least, the narrative around why it would shut down.When I was reporting a big piece on Chick-fil-A's culture over the summer, experts told me that the only way that Chick-fil-A's reputation would actually impact its financials is through expansion, especially international expansion. At the beginning of 2019, Chick-fil-A only existed in the US. For the next six months, at least, it is in three countries: the US, Canada, and the UK. While Chick-fil-A has old-school vibes, most people underestimate its ability to evolve. Watch this space to see whether Chick-fil-A can pull off a reputational evolution now that boycotts are actually impacting its plans.
Read me on Chick-fil-A's reputation catching up with it here. Plus, if you're confused about what the chain is actually donating to, I've got an explainer on that as well.
Peloton bikers are sick of being forced to listen to '80s music after spending $2,000 on a bike.
Mary talked to Peloton users who are annoyed by subpar playlists after the company was hit with a $300 million lawsuit.In the words of one bike owner: "The music now consists of TONS of '80s music (and not even good '80s music for the most part - think doing an ab workout to a slow jam by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam), a few rap artists, and a bunch of stuff I've never heard of for the most part."
VSCO girls are killing the Kardashian-spawned era of cosmetics.
Taste test of the week: Fill the chicken sandwich-shaped hole in your heart with Popeyes new pumpkin pie.
Irene Jiang / Business Insider
Popeyes' chicken sandwich seems to be on the cusp of a return, with a major franchisee telling Bloomberg the sandwich will return in early November. But, as customers anxiously await the day, Irene suggests trying the chain's new pumpkin pie.Irene's take: "There wasn't a single stale bite of this pie. Every single bite burst with flavor. My only complaint was that there weren't enough bites."Visuals that will make you want to visit Popeyes even before the chicken sandwich returns are here.
Everything else you need to know
- The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon, Walmart, and Target are selling clothes produced in blacklisted factories in Bangladesh.
- Destination Maternity becomes the 19th major retailer to file for bankruptcy or liquidation this year. If you've never visited the store, here's a look into why it's struggling.
- Walmart is warning shoppers of a "national supply shortage" of dish soap.
- Politico reports that Dick's Sporting Goods' CEO - who has been getting a lot of press for his work on gun control - is considering a presidential run, because it's apparently very difficult for a CEO to talk about political issues without thinking he should be president.
- Neiman Marcus' gift guide includes a $70,000-plus dog house. That's about a third of the median price to buy a home in the US.
- Dunkin' is launching its Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich nationally in November. As the fourth biggest chain by locations in the US, this will be the biggest national launch of plant-based "meat" in America.
- McDonald's chicken sales took a hit in the Great Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019.
- At least one Popeyes franchisee is on a hiring spree as the chain prepares to bring back its chicken sandwich.
- Kanye's album is out and it is giving Chick-fil-A a lot of free advertising that Chick-fil-A definitely didn't ask for.