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: 08/11/2022

    Is retail now facing a warehouse crisis?

    It's not talked about much, but another issue is the environmental impact of all this additional warehouse space. At a time when climate change is accelerating, we need to be setting aside more space for forests, marshes, etc. instead of continuing to pave everything over and building on virgin land instead of rehabbing some old warehouses, malls, shopping centers, etc. because it's deemed too expensive.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Can Walmart roll back inflation?

    As an aside, gas prices here in Florida have dropped 20% in the past six weeks. Regular has gone from $4.99 per gallon to $3.99.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Will marketers hit a home run or strike out with MLB’s uniform ads?

    Makes one think these sports aren't really all about the fans, as the leagues' PR machines are constantly saying, but all about the money ;)
  • Posted on: 07/25/2022

    Are digital-only coupons discriminatory against the elderly and poor?

    Of course this is discriminatory. We all know that many elderly folks don't have and can't use smartphones. Many poor people can't afford the phones and/or the data plan to go with them. Poor elderly people are in a double bind. It may or may not be intentional but common sense says it's happening. One solution might be to have a weekly flier at the store entrance, with good signage in large print. It would eliminate the cost of mailing and a much smaller number of these filers would need to be printed. It might not be profitable, but it would provide some measure of equal access and would be the right thing to do.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2022

    Study says health labels get shrugs from shoppers

    Customers don't care until they do - when they get diagnosed with something serious that was caused or at least contributed to by their poor diet and other bad habits. Not that retailers or restaurants should force anything on their customers but a little social responsibility in terms of simple messaging to help their customers live longer is a good idea. It will also increase the lifetime value of those customers if we're looking at it from a purely monetary standpoint as many seem to do these days.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2022

    Are bike lanes good for retail?

    I understand the complaints all around, but here in South Florida there is a huge need for bike lanes. Drivers were speeding and out of control before the pandemic and it's now a lot worse. There are regular stories about bike riders being hit and often killed by speeding cars. Bike lanes are the least we can do.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2022

    When did Walgreens’ associates become the contraceptive police?

    If it's legal and the business sells it, then the associates who work there need to keep their personal beliefs to themselves. If they don't want to sell the items in the store, they need to find work elsewhere. Where does it end?
  • Posted on: 07/06/2022

    Will Ben & Jerry’s be Ben & Jerry’s if its Israel unit’s sale goes through?

    Ben & Jerry's went for the money 22 years ago, so this is a little late. This is what predictably happens when companies with competing goals merge and each wants its own way.
  • 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.

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