In today’s top retail news, the U.S. Commerce Department says retail sales were up in September, though inflation may have something to do with that, while more merchants may be looking to accept cryptocurrency within the next few years. Also, Walmart is trying to expand its conversational commerce capabilities despite Amazon’s dominance, and Toyota is altering its production schedule because of the semiconductor chip shortage.
Retail Sales Up 0.7% in September as Inflation Continues to Rise
Labor Day travel and continued consumer resilience contributed to a 0.7% increase in consumer spending last month, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, marking the second month in a row that retail sales have increased. This higher spending, however, is in part attributable to rising costs — the Labor Department said earlier this week that consumer prices were up 0.4% between August and September and 5.4% year over year.
Wider Acceptance of Crypto, More Specialized BNPL Plans to Lead Merchant Trends
Lauren Craig, regional manager of the Americas at Checkout.com, said that in the next three years, 40% of merchants will be looking to accept crypto as a currency — but the industry has a lot to do to prepare for that to happen at such a scale. In the shorter term, Craig said the focus is on the continuing acceleration of eCommerce and more industries that were “very card-present heavy” moving into digital sales.
AMZN vs. WMT Weekly: Walmart to Expand Conversational Commerce, But Amazon Is Already There
Walmart revealed this week that Store No. 8, the retailer’s incubation arm, is currently testing the ability for customers to text Walmart their shopping lists; the box store chain already offers voice shopping through Google Assistant. PYMNTS research has found that 31% of U.S. consumers have voice-activated speakers in their homes, but Amazon currently dominates the voice artificial intelligence (AI) market, with a reported 68% share.
Chip Shortage Forces Toyota to Scale Back Production
Toyota Motor Corp. is scheduling shutdowns of its Japan production plants in November that will last between one and five days, blaming the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting parts shortage for the halt. Toyota has been altering its production schedule monthly since August because of the auto chip shortage, which it expects to continue in the long term.