Welcome back to a new edition of The Spin. Virtual sales are all the rage. Walmart is finally seizing control of Flipkart in India. Chinese Alibaba reports explosive annual growth. Last but not least, American retailers made more than $100 billion sales online during the first quarter. Much ado about nothing, laugh the Brits, who prefer to concentrate on Meghan's wedding dress. Now they know. Enjoy the read. Caroline.


On the warpath... The sale of Flipkart, India's largest retailer, is in its final stage: the American giant Walmart is expected to own up to 75% in the company and Alphabet, Google's parent, will buy 10% in a deal that value the company at $20 billion. Meanwhile Walmart wins the race against Amazon, which had also tried to buy Flipkart. India will be the biggest emerging market in which the big 3, Walmart, Amazon and China's Alibaba compete against each other.


...despite failures overseas. Walmart is persisting in trying to expand internationally, even though the Bentonville giant recently admitted failure in other parts of the world. It is selling its controlling stake in British chain Asda. It also threw in the towel in Germany and Korea. Why is that? Retail experts think that American companies try too hard to sell the American dream to societies that aren't interested. Point taken so, Walmart is retaining the Flipkart's Indian CEO.

The Chinese dragon. Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, just announced an explosive 47% annual growth in net income to $10.2 billion and a 58% leap in revenue to $39.898 billion. Jack Ma's company added 98 million very consumers over the past year. Revenue in its main platforms Taobao and Tmall rose (paywall) 62%. The company expects to repeat the same kind of growth in fiscal 2019: +60% being the goal.

A Chinese push. Chinese consumers' appetite for product didn't benefit only Alibaba. Italy's Moncler and America's VF Corp which just reported an up beat first quarter, said their revenues were lifted by sales in Asia. VF Corp announced a 22% jump in revenue to $3.05 billion. Its Chinese investment is boosting business. Moncler, as well (paywall) benefited from a 20% growth. Its sales hit the €332 million, thanks to the 27% increase in Asian demand.


Digital darling. American retailers raked in more than $100 billion in online sales during the first quarter of 2018. According to Adobe Digital Insights, online sales increased 14,1% year over year. Siddharth Kulkani, analyst at ADI thinks that the $100 billion milestone is a "testament to how fast online growth is happening". The best days were Martin Luther King and Presidents Day. Apparel and accessories benefited from this online infatuation. The Salesforce Shopping Index reveals that general apparel grew 16%.

Mortar mortality. The online push comes at a cost to bricks and mortar retailers. The Labor Department's monthly jobs report shows (paywall) that store closures in the US cut 5300 workers last month as compared with March. During that time, department stores shed 1000 positions. That trend will persist because other retails are set to go dark (paywall), to wit, 256 Bon Ton stores and 92 Claire's accessories. Generalist retailers now leave the stage to selected specialty stores and digital natives.


A divine design. The much anticipated exhibition Heavenly bodies: fashion and the Catholic Imagination will open at the MET museum in New York on May 10th. It will explore the way the Catholic church has served (paywall) as an inspiration to designers from the early twentieth century to the present. The icing on the cake: after years of negotiation, the MET obtained (paywall) papal robes and accessories from the Sistine chapel's sacristy, never seen before, outside of the Vatican.

A royal mystery unveiled. After month of speculations, the Daily Mail nailed it! British couturiers Ralph and Russo are allegedly designing Meghan Markle's wedding dress. It will be heavily beaded and embroidered and will cost a bundle. The newspaper discloses that the royal family will pay around $180 000. The couture house client list includes (paywall) Beyoncé, Fan Bingbing and Sonam Kapoor. Now that we know, there is another mystery to uncover: what will her prince wear?


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