Al McClain

CEO, Co-Founder, RetailWire

Al McClain is CEO and co-founder of, the expert discussion community for the retailing community. He has spent 30+ years in the retail, tech, and CPG spaces. Al’s career highlights include management positions with Reily Foods, Bestfoods, Red Rose Tea, and Progressive Grocer (Trade Dimensions and Retail Insights divisions). He also co-founded in 1997, a precursor to

Al has worked with many major tech companies and spoken at Shoptalk, the National Grocers Association convention, IIR’s Shopper Insights conference, the Magazine Publishers Association conference, the d2 Digital Dialogue conference, the Category Management Association conference, and Future Stores Miami. He has written for publications such as Nielsen Wire, Loyalty Management,, and He lives in South Florida.

  • Posted on: 07/01/2022

    Should more retailers aim for their customers’ funny bones?

    Authenticity is the most important thing and when you can fake that, you've got it made. Joke. What IS funny is 85% of business execs saying they don't have the tools or data insights to successfully deliver humor. Come on, we're trying too hard here. If big businesses and their execs could lighten up a little and try to have a little more FUN with their marketing, that could work. You don't need data to tell you that consumers like to have fun and be lighthearted when they can. Brands take themselves way too seriously sometimes and execs are too focused on every last nickel that can be extracted from consumers.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2022

    Retail workers want the right to defend themselves

    I think buybacks will only work if we regulate gun sales at the same time. But, that seems to be an impossible goal for society as it is in the US today.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2022

    Retail workers want the right to defend themselves

    The other day, in Atlanta, a Subway sandwich worker was killed because the customer thought she put too much mayo on his sandwich. So, he shot her and her co-worker in front of a 5 year old daughter of one of them. The gun and hostility culture in this country has won. Short-term, I propose security in every store, cost be damned. Long-term, gun buyback programs with huge payouts and restricting gun sales are the only things I can think of. But, since half the country won't go along with that, I think it's every person for themselves and every retailer for themselves. It will get much worse before it gets better, I fear.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2022

    Are mall shoppers hungry for in-stock data?

    Right, Ken. This data is only being updated daily, and a lot can change in a day.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2022

    Has science-based marketing taken a pandemic hit?

    No offense intended, but lots of consumers weren't that bright before the pandemic, and it's gotten worse. Marketers will do well to remember that shoppers often buy on emotion and many times aren't rational or logical.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    ‘Babe’ star makes dramatic gesture over Starbucks’ upcharge for non-dairy milk

    The free market solves some problems but not others. Animal rights and animal cruelty have never been something many big corporations care much about. So, as much as it is fun to mock celebrities for trying to move the needle, something like this puts a little bit more pressure on companies like Starbucks to do the right thing. Yes, Starbucks can charge what it wants and the free market by and large will dictate what happens, but little by little celebrities can raise awareness on important issues. In other words, baby steps.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2022

    Expensive gas slows foot traffic

    Maybe we're the outlier, but I'm not seeing it in southeast Florida. Growth and development are rampant everywhere. Shopping centers are going up in many places, homes are being built in mass in places that were supposed to be nature preserves, and traffic is as heavy or heavier than I ever recall. Shopping center parking lots are busy as well. And, I would be very hard pressed to find any business that has not reopened post Covid, if we are in fact even in a post Covid era.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2022

    Are banned books a sales opportunity or political risk for Barnes & Noble?

    Good for Barnes & Noble! Let's publish and promote all of these titles that were objected to by the left and right so readers can see for themselves and decide what all of the fuss was about. Reading should not be a bad thing in any society. And, controversy promotes reading, so trying to ban these books just gets them more attention, contrary to the intentions of those trying to ban them.
  • Posted on: 03/07/2022

    What does Russia’s war on Ukraine mean for U.S. retail?

    US oil production is close to an all time high at over 11 million barrels per day and we are the largest oil producing country by far: But, we consume the most, too. It's too bad we haven't made more progress on alternative fuels which would have also helped the global warming problem.
  • Posted on: 03/07/2022

    What does Russia’s war on Ukraine mean for U.S. retail?

    My hope is that this is a wake up call for citizens and companies as to how authoritarian regimes act, and why none of us should go around saying how smart dictators are. Yes, there will be economic and supply chain pain, but the pain will be worse if crazed rulers are not stopped when they invade sovereign countries. So, we'll all need to suck it up until the democracies of the world collectively figure out how to end this lunacy. The retail industry will have to absorb some of the economic pain, as will we all (except maybe oil companies). Retailers and brands who haven't cut ties with Russia should do so today.
  • Posted on: 02/23/2022

    Should dogs be allowed in stores?

    We have two terriers ourselves and they are definitely not ready for stores, the mall, or restaurants. But, some dogs are very well behaved so it wouldn't bother me in the least to see those kinds in stores. The problem is that people don't obey rules in general, so I imagine there will be reports of unruly dogs, dogfights, dogs off leashes, etc. Makes it a tough call. Thankfully, all the kids I see in stores are SO well behaved :)
  • Posted on: 02/15/2022

    Why has Kirkland Signature been so successful?

    Simplicity: one name, top quality, and a discounted price from brands, even when the brands are on sale. Shopping in a typical supermarket, you'll find several levels of private label with a variety of names and the quality is inconsistent.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2022

    Are business buzzwords more annoying than useful?

    Dick, ten or twenty years ago, it was "multichannel."
  • Posted on: 02/04/2022

    Are business buzzwords more annoying than useful?

    How about "collaboration"? I have been hearing that collaboration was going to solve all our problems for a very long time.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2022

    McDonald’s new Hacks menu taps into the power of co-creation

    I agree that these hacks are creative and fun for the intended young consumers. But, it does give me pause in terms of social responsibility. The latest numbers I could find are that over 70% of us Americans are overweight and nearly 40% are obese. I can only imagine how many calories a Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish, and McChicken sandwich combo has. A billion? But, it's fun :)

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