Hello ,

Happy Thursday and welcome back to The Spin! Today we examine why off-price retail is likely to slow down this year and which company might be most affected. We also share the latest rumors about which brick-and-mortar retailers Amazon might be planing to buy next. And then there is a broad look at the effect of the ongoing legalization of marijuana on the US retail sector, jobs and even high fashion. We hope you enjoy the read. Have a great day, Ulrike


Clear and present danger. After a strong 2017, the US off-price sector might be in for a rude awakening. In addition to increased market saturation, there will be less excess merchandise to be sold into the channel from traditional retailers who tightened their assortments. According to Wells Fargo, TJX Companies, which holds TJ Maxx, Marshall's and TK Maxx in Europe, is particularly vulnerable due to its large store network.



To buy or not to buy. Prominent tech analyst Gene Munster's bold prediction that Amazon will buy US discounter Target this year has sparked heated conversation. Munster considers Target an ideal offline partner for Amazon because of their shared demographics and Target's comprehensive store count. Critics object (video) that for a steep price of about $42 billion Amazon would not even get what it really wants - access to the luxury market, which only an acquisition like Nordstrom would provide.

Dirty secret. As the fluctuating value of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ripple continues to create headlines, the underlying blockchain technology is being scrutinized. While some experts claim that energy-hungry blockchains are utterly useless, others put their hope on alternative, more energy-efficient avenues for the necessary proof of work. Meanwhile, China is allegedly planning to curb its power supply to certain bitcoin miners.


Trumping the robot. The International Labour Organization fears that low-paying jobs in Asia's apparel production might soon be lost to automation. But cheap human labor remains the first choice of many manufacturers including Hong Kong's Crystal Group, which makes clothing for retail giants like H&M, Gap and Uniqlo and is considered the largest apparel maker by volume.

Legalize it. In 2016, North America's recreational marijuana market grew about 30 percent to $6.7 billion. Currently, 30 US states and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis in some form, making way to a new cannabis culture and about 2,000 new cannabis stores. California joined the movement on January 1, when the Sunshine State's first licensed marijuana shops opened. In addition, the plant has many applications in apparel production, especially the Cannabis Sativa strain.


Don't criticize it. The legalization of marijuana is changing the US retail landscape, offering new venues to traditional retail talent. Last November, for example, Laurie Bosch has left her executive position at fashion retailer Eddie Bauer to become Director of Retail Sales at Colorado Harvest Company which offers cannabis, cannabis oil and vaporizers. It currently runs three locations in Colorado, where recreational use has been legal since January 2014.


High fashion. As cannabis is getting increasingly accepted, the luxury fashion sector is starting to embrace the once so controversial plant. Some of the names that have incorporated marijuana motifs into their designs include Jeremy Scott, Alexander Wang, Creatures of the Wind, Jacquie Ache and Baya East. In March, tattoo artist Scott Campell and former Yoox executive Clement Kwan launched the luxury marijuana brand Beboe.


To die for. Cartier sunglasses like the $2.895 white buffalo horn C Décor have long been a status symbol in Detroit's street gang circles. Nicknamed Carties, Ye's or Sticks and immortalized in rap songs, Cartier glasses have allegedly been involved in nine homicides, 17 shootings and 2,158 robberies between 2012 and 2016.


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