The Drive-Thru: Alibaba celebrates Singles Day, Under Armour battles scandal, and Target workers face off against bursting balls of slime
Hello! This is Kate Taylor, bringing you another week of retail news from Business Insider. If you're reading this for the first time, subscribe here.
I'm back from California. The news did not let up to allow me to enjoy the sunshine much, but I did have a chance to try some West Coast chicken (Zankou and Dave's Hot Chicken, back-to-back on the same day).While I was away, everyone else was hard at work cranking out stories, so let's get into it.
Alibaba crushes Singles Day again.
Alibaba raked in more than $38.3 billion in sales this Singles Day, outpacing analyst estimates for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the US this year, Bethany reports. In the first hour alone, it generated an estimated $13 billion in sales - nearly double the total estimated sales Amazon brought in on Prime Day in July.
This year, other companies were trying to get in on the celebration. Retailers including Nike, Old Navy, and J.Crew all promoted their own 11/11 day deals.
Under Armour's accounting scandal continues.
Soon-to-be-former Under Armour CEO Kevin Plan responded to WSJ's reporting on Friday, in an email to employees obtained by Mary.
"Given recent events that have entered the realm of public opinion without full context, it is disappointing to have our integrity and reputation called into question," Plank wrote. "Amid a paradox of being constrained by an ongoing, two and a half year investigation and wanting to address media allegations raised by anonymous sources - our integrity is unshaken."
El Paso Walmart reopens after shooting.
The Walmart store where 22 people were killed in a deadly shooting in August reopened this week. Shoshy reports that workers largely supported the move, with one writing on Facebook it is "time to move forward and go back to normal and serving our customers."
The opening highlights companies' efforts to protect workers in the face of violence. The Associated Press reported that Walmart quietly hired off-duty officers for its stores in El Paso, Texas, following the shooting. Shoshy was first to report that Target is expanding its active-shooter training to include hundreds of thousands of employees across the country.
The fast-food industry is facing a similar reckoning, with Popeyes locations around the country seeing violence following the return of its chicken sandwich.Ready Shoshy on Walmart's reopening here, and her scoop on Target's active-shooter training here.
Target and Walmart workers are battling bursting blobs of slime.
Shoshy also got the scoop on bursting balls of goop that are infuriating workers at stores including Target and Walmart.
Nine workers told Shoshy that Super Squishy Blob Balls, manufactured by MB Wolverine, have been leaking in stores. In a vivid set of quotes, one former employee of a Wisconsin Target described the toys as "the devil" and "the bane of [his] existence."
MB Wolverine said that the company is recalling a small batch of Super Squishy Blob Balls that have an "isolated quality issue" resulting in a thinner outer wall, making the toys prone to breaks and leaks.
Sears lays off hundreds of corporate workers.
The layoffs impacted workers at Sears' headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, as well as the company's offices in San Francisco. The total number of laid-off employees is fewer than 300, according to a source with direct knowledge of the staffing changes.
In happier news, the Krispy Kreme reseller was gifted a free delivery van.
Now, Gonzalez has not only received Krispy Kreme's blessing, but also was gifted a free Daimler van to deliver the doughnuts. The gift was presented to Gonzalez while he was being interviewed by Business Insider's own Rachel Premack and FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller at a conference on Tuesday, with FreightWaves partnering with Daimler to offer the gift.
Rich people and older people prefer Cyber Monday to Black Friday.
BI teamed up with Morning Consult to survey more than 2,300 American adults about their gift purchasing preferences.
Replies proved how Cyber Monday is becoming bigger than Black Friday, especially as older and wealthier shoppers do not want to battle the crowds in stores anymore.
Taste test of the week: Snarky robots, free hand massages, and a noodle dancer at Haidilao.
Irene's take: "My expectations were met, and then some. Highlights include my very real giant plushie companion, a snarky robot, a Chinese opera dancer, a hand massage, and Chanel No. 5 perfume in the bathroom."
Everything else you need to know.
- On Prime, Casey Sullivan breaks down Walmart's work on restructuring its law department. There is even an Al Pacino meme!
- Travis Kalanick pivoted from the ride-hailing industry to ghost kitchens. Katie Canales got a look inside.
- Amazon has started hiring for a new type of grocery store that's completely different from Whole Foods.
- Nike is stopping selling its shoes on Amazon.
- Burger King is testing more Impossible Whoppers, bringing plant-based "meat" to the kids menu.
- Walmart's Black Friday hours are out, with sales starting on Thanksgiving. Employees who work on Thanksgiving get a holiday meal in their stores.
- Dick's Sporting Goods CEO says that parents' concerns about kids getting concussions playing football is paying off in sales of soccer and baseball equipment.
- Trader Joe's is selling chocolate lava gnocchi.
- Erin went to Taco Bell for the first time.
- That $75 Costco coupon was definitely a scam.
- I went deep on how the death of the American dream is transforming the restaurant industry.
First time reading The Drive-Thru? Sign up to become a Drive-Thru subscriber here to get an explanation of what is really happening in retail in your inbox every Friday.