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: 12/01/2022

    Will candy consumers recycle their wrappers?

    Baby steps. Good for Mars to keep trying. Perfect? No. Google articles on the amount of plastic in the rivers and oceans (or go for a walk in a park) and you'll see how absolutely staggering the problem is. Doing nothing is not sustainable so I give kudos to any retailers or CPG companies who are at least trying.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2022

    Was the high-traffic Thanksgiving weekend a promise of things to come?

    It's not just "the press" anymore controlling the narrative. Social media and politicians are also huge factors, and many have axes to grind.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2022

    Do digital coupons discriminate against those who can least afford it?

    While most comments are focused on discrimination (or the lack thereof) against older shoppers, and saying we older folks are tech savvy, the other point of the story was that many low income shoppers are still without broadband internet access. My hunch is they may not have top line phones or computers either, so miss out on digital deals.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2022

    Saks Off 5th aims to deliver on schedule

    I'm not sure Amazon really does. I'd say about one out of ten packages I receive from Amazon (Prime) is late. Typically, I just receive a notification from them that the package is late but they don't offer a credit or anything - just an option to cancel the shipment which doesn't really solve anything. As best I can tell, the Saks Off 5th announcement doesn't say what the 'guarantee" means, either.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2022

    It’s Etsy versus Hobby Lobby to begin the 2022 RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge

    The Etsy ad is sentimental, but $600 for a snow globe? I knew inflation was bad but..............
  • Posted on: 11/08/2022

    Will travel keep retail’s 2022 holiday from taking off?

    Really sorry to hear, Scott. I hope your travels bring some joy to your holidays.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2022

    Chick-fil-A’s three-day workweek gives ‘the gift of time’ to associates

    It's a noble effort and the thing I like the most about it is it is optional for employees. Some will opt for it, but some will be exhausted by three 14 hour days in a row, once a week. There is also the nagging question of 3 x 14 not equaling 70 hours that the operator mentioned, but hopefully he has figured that out.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2022

    Have grocery self-checkouts been designed to disappoint?

    Why would supermarkets or other retailers prefer their shoppers use self-checkout? Speed and labor cost reductions are the main reasons. Yet, having associates check shoppers out can provide a huge loyalty benefit, assuming the associates are efficient, friendly and knowledgeable. I still believe the vast majority of shoppers would prefer to interact with a human (just like we do when calling an 800 number for service), IF that human provides a positive experience. Bottom line: there is an opportunity for retailers who care to hire associates who are the cream of the crop, to provide a superior service to shoppers and win repeat business over and over again.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2022

    Greenpeace study trashes plastic recycling

    It's sad to say, but most consumers don't care. Sure, they may put out recyclables for pick up when it is convenient, but look at what's put in the bins versus what is supposed to go in them. Retailers need to lead but many don't. Panera is a good example. They say their food is "clean" but they package most things, including salads and drinks, in plastic. McDonald's uses plastic cups and straws. This will only get better when enough consumers are disgusted by our collective behavior, which they aren't yet, unfortunately.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2022

    Can retailers sustain their current delivery practices?

    It's pretty clear that retailers and brands will have to take the lead on sustainability issues and do the right things, rather than relying on consumers individually to do them.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2022

    McDonald’s rolls out adult Happy Meals in streetwear collaboration

    Well, it's creative, so there is that. And, I'm sure it will appeal to a subset of adults. Many years ago, I worked for the Red Rose Tea Company and they included a figurine with every box of tea. It was extremely popular. As best as I could tell at the time, it was an older demographic who bought a lot of tea and loved the figurines. I just checked and Red Rose still offers figurines, so I guess they still work with somebody.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2022

    Can Instacart marry in-store and online grocery shopping experiences?

    I guess it has potential, but some of it looks like technology in search of a problem. Scanning a product for its nutrition information, seems like a step that is not needed in most cases. The information is right on the package.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2022

    Do grocers need a new approach for selling plant-based protein alternatives?

    From personal experience, taste of these products varies widely. Consumers may be willing to give them a try, but a couple of bad taste experiences can turn them off entirely. I'd suggest retailers really dig into studies on taste and focus on those products and product lines that their shoppers will actually enjoy, and come back for more.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2022

    Is ‘shrinkflation’ a better option than charging higher prices at retail?

    I guess taking a few Doritos out of the bag will make consumers a tiny bit healthier, too, so it's really a benefit ;). Chip bags are usually only about 2/3 full anyway.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2022

    Will Sam’s Club customers be okay with paying a higher membership fee?

    Members will pay it, and it will make Sam's Club money, but I think a more inspiring message would have been to hold the line on member fees, acting as advocates for their valuable members when things are a little bit tough for some of them. The company could certainly afford to do that.

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