Retail Insights from Retail & Tech No 23

Retail news and trends to watch out for


  • Sephora’s new partnership. Sephora revealed that it has inked a deal to launch beauty shop-in-shops at US retailer Kohl’s. Sephora at Kohl’s will launch in 200 Kohl’s stores in fall 2021 and the concept will be expanded to 850 doors by 2023. Kohl’s online beauty selection will also convert to exclusively showcase Sephora’s offer. The move widens Sephora’s footprint in the Americas, where it has 500 stores, and importantly, gives it access to off-mall real estate. Sephora’s heavy presence in malls has been seen as a major disadvantage given how malls have suffered during the pandemic and given that its key competitor Ulta Beauty is less reliant on malls. At the beginning of the year, before the pandemic, Sephora had laid out plans to open 100 stores with more of a focus on local neighbors rather than on malls.

    Sephora has said that it will wind down its partnership with department-store retailer JCPenney, with whom it has operated Sephora shop-in-shops since 2006. There are more than 600 Sephora shop-in-shops at JCPenney in the US. The two companies were embroiled in a legal dispute earlier this year, with Sephora threatening to close its boutiques inside the department store and end its contract with JCPenney early. The companies then said in May that they had reaffirmed their partnership.

    The Sephora deal comes less than a month after US-based beauty retailer Ulta Beauty partnered with retailer Target to launch more than 100 shop-in-shops at Target. Ulta too has an ambitious roll-out plan for the concept, with the aim of scaling to hundreds of doors. The two deals will mean a wider beauty offer for more consumers in the US and are set to see the already intense battle for market share between the two retailers intensify.


  • Black Friday blues. Black Friday in the US was a disappointment for many this year. One reason for this is that retailers began their holiday promotions earlier than usual, making the discount day less of an event than in previous years. Slower in-store traffic due to the pandemic also took the wind out of Black Friday’s sales – in-store traffic in the US fell 52.1% on Black Friday according to retail solutions company Sensormatic Solutions. Shopper traffic also dropped 45.2% week-to-date (Sunday, November 22 – Friday, November 27) compared to the same period last year. Online sales however, as expected, were up on last year- increasing 21.6% on November year-over-year, according to Adobe Analytics. However, consumers in the US spent $80.13bn online between November 1 and November 27, a 43.7% drop compared to the same period last year.

    Also worth noting, are changing attitudes to Black Friday. Once again this year, a string of brands chose to be vocal about not participating in the sale event or launched anti-Black Friday campaigns to highlight their stance against superfluous consumption and their commitments to sustainability. Turning their backs on Black Friday may also be a way for brands to wean consumers off these key promotional periods and get them spending – at full price – throughout the year.


  • Retail & wellness. More retail wellness concepts continue to emerge. UK-based organic beauty brand The Organic Pharmacy is to open a new store concept in London offering what it calls wellness-related experiences and services. These services include a tea and juice bar, a product refill station, spa services and yoga. The Organic Pharmacy plans to open additional stores based on the new concept.


  • LVMH moves. LVMH has named Chris de Lapuente chairman and ceo of its Selective Retailing division. This means that de Lapuente will oversee travel retailer DFS, cruise services Starboard & Onboard, and fashion website 24S, in addition to his existing remit for Sephora, Le Bon Marché group and LVMH’s Perfumes and Cosmetics business. He will also remain a member of the LVMH executive committee. De Lapuente joined LVMH in 2011 as Sephora ceo. Also at LVMH, it emerged that the group’s chief digital officer Ian Rogers is to step down from his current role and take on an advisory position at the group. He will become chief experience officer at digital assets’ security solution provider Ledger. LVMH says it will now embark on a new phase of its digital development.