Walmart, Target, and innovative retail startups soar as pandemic-era bankruptcies plague smaller chains and restaurants

Elva Mankin

Happy Friday!



a hand holding a glass of beer: Dunkin' is rolling out oat milk at locations across America Mario Tama/Getty Images


© Mario Tama/Getty Images
Dunkin’ is rolling out oat milk at locations across America Mario Tama/Getty Images

This is Shoshy Ciment, welcoming you back to another edition of Insider Retail, formerly known as The Drive Thru! If you’re confused, here’s the TLDR: New name, same gist. That is, Kate Taylor and I are still here to bring you a weekly round-up of all things restaurants and retail every Friday. To get us in your inbox, all you have to do is subscribe, which you can do here.

Now that we’ve settled administrative matters, onto the news of the week.



a display in a store: Walmart and Target reported earnings this week. Brendan McDermid/Reuters


© Provided by Business Insider
Walmart and Target reported earnings this week. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Walmart and Target reported Q2 earnings this week. Spoiler alert: they blew it out of the park.

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Target posted its highest comparable sales growth in history, with a 195% annual increase in digital sales. Walmart hit a 97% annual growth in e-commerce sales and reported a dramatic change in shopping habits, with consumers making fewer trips but spending 27% more on average when shopping.

Is this too good to be true? Company leadership was hesitant to claim an absolute victory. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Target CEO Brian Cornell both warned of  “uncertainty,” even in the wake of such a successful quarter.

The other side of the coin: 11 major retailers like Tailored Brands and JCPenney have filed for bankruptcy this year and chain restaurants including Pizza Hut and Starbucks are permanently closing over 1800 total locations.



a close up of a sign: Business Insider spoke with more than a dozen former Urbn employees, who pointed to a variety of issues they said they encountered at the company's 2,000-person headquarters. Samantha Lee/Business Insider


© Samantha Lee/Business Insider
Business Insider spoke with more than a dozen former Urbn employees, who pointed to a variety of issues they said they encountered at the company’s 2,000-person headquarters. Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Bethany and Hillary dig into the work environment at Urbn, a company whose brands include Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie 

The company has had issues in the past, from allegations of racial profiling to selling offensive merchandise. Bethany and Hillary spoke with more than a dozen former Urbn employees about their experience at the company, many of whom mentioned feeling like they had been treated unfairly.

“We strongly believe that every customer, partner, vendor, employee, and associate should feel welcomed and respected when they walk through our doors, though it is clear that there is still work for us to do to make that a reality,” an Urbn spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider.

Read the entire bombshell investigation here.



a close up of a sign: Top venture-capital investors revealed which retail startups they think will take off in 2020. Tempo; Eaze; Public Goods; Article; Imperfect Foods; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider


© Tempo; Eaze; Public Goods; Article; Imperfect Foods; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
Top venture-capital investors revealed which retail startups they think will take off in 2020. Tempo; Eaze; Public Goods; Article; Imperfect Foods; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Catherine and I asked seven top venture-capital investors which retail startups they think will take off in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. We asked each VC to pick two companies, including one they weren’t invested in.

Overall, the startups that made the list occupy a niche in the pandemic-influenced market and exhibit strong online presences, superior delivery capabilities, and a compelling product offering in a high-demand market, such as online grocery or skincare. 

Read the full list of top retail startups set to soar in 2020 here.

New menu and snacking items to watch out for:



The French toast Girl Scout cookie is launching in 2021. Girl Scouts of America


© Girl Scouts of America
The French toast Girl Scout cookie is launching in 2021. Girl Scouts of America

Everything else to know:

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