Mark Ryski

Founder, CEO & Author, HeadCount Corporation
Mark Ryski is the author of two books on retail analytics, Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric and When Retail Customers Count – books that are widely considered the definitive reference guides for the retail industry. He is also the Founder and CEO of HeadCount Corporation – the leading authority on retail traffic and conversion analysis. Founded in 1994, today Mark and his dedicated team work with retailers across virtually all categories and sizes from independents to large chains.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Will retailers pass along or eat COVID-19 shipping surcharges?

    Online sales already have thin margins and this won’t help. Some of the fees will be passed along to consumers, but some of it will impact retailers’ already embattled bottom-lines. I doubt that these additional charges are going to negatively impact online sales in the short-term or even at all – these extra fees will be like bank fees, nobody likes them, but we all pay.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Can outdoor dining save restaurants?

    Outdoor dining will help create more capacity for those restaurants that have the time and money to create suitable outdoor eating space, but it’s not a panacea. Many restaurant operators are already financially compromised, so finding the money to expand will be problematic. Next, the rules around city ordinances regarding outdoor space need to be navigated. This can be a slow process at the best of times, and it’s likely even worse as government agencies struggle with their own diminished productivity. Lastly, is the weather. Outdoor dining is fine when the weather is agreeable, but it won’t do much good on rainy days or in the winter.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Will dollar stores be the biggest post-COVID-19 winners?

    Dollar stores' success in many ways is a sad reflection of the state of the economy. Based on the current economic conditions, with some 40 million Americans out of work, I have no doubt that dollar stores will flourish over the coming years. But like any successful format, new competitors will emerge and other existing players will trade down to capture share from the dollar stores. The tragic and compounding circumstances the U.S. economy is facing will be a headwind for retail in general and a tailwind for dollar stores and discounters.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Retail ensnared in nationwide protests

    The events unfolding are truly tragic, and the responses from the retailing community have been thoughtful and compassionate. As sensitive as retailers rightfully should be to the circumstances around the George Floyd's apparent murder, they also need to manage their businesses. The looting and vandalism taking place have nothing to do with equal rights and the treatment of Blacks in America. I agree with the approach of many retailers who are closing stores in the areas that are hardest hit until civil order is restored.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2020

    Is purposeful giving an answer to retail’s inventory glut?

    This is a terrific idea for several reasons: 1.) much of the inventory is out of season, which means its value is low; 2.) selling the excess inventory to off-pricers like TJX will only serve to make competitors stronger, 3.) it’s great for the environment since some of the merchandise would have ended up in a landfill and 4.) the American public needs help. Have you noticed the epic lines at food banks in major cities across the nation? These people will also need clothing banks.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Retailers focus on making safe spaces for customers and associates

    Very interesting data, Brian. Thank you for sharing.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Do retailers need ‘trickle up economics’ to beat COVID-19?

    I agree with Cuban’s general idea – U.S. consumers drive the economy. The U.S. economy is like a jet flying at high speed and the engines just shut off – the plane is gliding at a high rate, but it’s gliding, not flying. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most Americans barely had enough cash to pay for a $400 unexpected expense – is it at all surprising that stimulus money received was being saved or spent on the essentials? More stimulus money will likely be required to keep the plane flying, but stimulus money alone won’t drive consumer demand.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Is Walmart about to become the king of online resale retailing?

    Used is "in," and Walmart is perfectly positioned to have a big impact. Price-conscious Walmart shoppers may appreciate the added "legitimacy" that Walmart brings to an already rapidly growing category. But instead of cool/hip shoppers, Walmart brings an everyday practicality. Walmart getting in the game means that the game will change – regardless of whether Walmart is successful or not, they will impact the category in a big way.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Lowe’s and Home Depot get a boost as customers stay-at-home

    I agree, Craig. The unemployment rate is still troubling and it will take some time to recover. According to Mark Zandi of Moody Analytics, it will take years to recover. The encouraging short-term boost in sales no doubt includes a good amount of purchase "shift" quarter's earnings report will be telling.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Should Apple and other stores require shopper temperature checks?

    Elevated temperature is just one potential symptom of COVID-19, but it’s not the only one and it’s not a fool-proof indicator. People have temperatures for many reasons. Retailers need to do everything they can to ensure the safety of staff and shoppers. Screening for elevated temperature is a reasonable way to screen employees who may be sick and help ensure that the work environment is safe. Despite the privacy issues, health and safety should prevail. Screening customers for elevated body temperature is more problematic. Not every customer is going to want to have their temperature taken on the basis of consent and privacy. Furthermore, managing these customer interactions will be delicate – some customers will react negatively to being prevented from entering the store. But while dealing with customers is more delicate, it’s still the obligation of the retailer to ensure that they have a safe shopping environment, and requiring temperature checks before entering the store is their prerogative. If customers don’t appreciate it, the choice is theirs to shop elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Lowe’s and Home Depot get a boost as customers stay-at-home

    The pandemic produced both winners and losers – the home improvement category was a clear winner. In the short/mid-term, these retailers need to keep executing the basics well as demand continues to build, as it most certainly will as contractors come back and the economy continues to open.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2020

    Is Kohl’s a stronger retailer as it reopens stores?

    Kohl’s has done better than most, but it’s still in a tough spot. With its apparel heavy sales mix – a category that’s been especially hard hit – they are not out of the woods yet. Kohl’s strength is their stores and as they open more of them, I expect to see their results improve materially. Furthermore, since their stores' larger footprint and mostly off-mall locations enable them to better execute social distancing. Overall, I think Kohl’s is well positioned among the most challenged retailers that predominantly sell apparel.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2020

    Can Target afford to pay (not pay) a $15 minimum wage?

    Target is doing very well and I expect to see them continue to perform well through this year and beyond. While paying higher minimum wages will put pressure on profitability, I believe Target management is making the right bet – they’re putting their money on their people and I think that will pay dividends in the long run.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Is Amazon about to buy J.C. Penney?

    I agree Dick. I don't believe Amazon should attempt to re-build or run the J.C. Penney brand -- rather, re-imagine what's possible with the physical footprint the J.C. Penney stores occupy.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Is Amazon about to buy J.C. Penney?

    Amazon has been threatening to enter the non-grocery market for years, and the opportunity to do it has never been better with J.C. Penney. The fact is, despite good effort by capable people, J.C. Penney is stuck in the department store morass, with overwhelming debt and a bleak future. The pandemic has accelerated many trends, and the demise of the department store is one of them. Amazon acquiring J.C. Penney has the potential to transform the department store category and bring much needed excitement and shoppers to the mall. This appears to be a very interesting proposition for both Amazon and J.C. Penney.

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