Neil Saunders

Managing Director, GlobalData
Neil is Managing Director of GlobalData’s retail division. In this role he oversees the development of the company’s retail proposition and its research output. He also works with clients to help them understand the retail, shopper and market landscape – advising them on how best to develop, evolve and implement business strategies. Prior to GlobalData, Neil worked at retail research firm Verdict for ten years. He latterly held the post of board director with responsibility for Consulting, Corporate Development and Planning. Before Verdict, Neil worked for the John Lewis Partnership where he was involved, among other things, in the planning and relocation of new stores, the development of the ecommerce business, and the creation of technical and information systems. Before moving to the United States, Neil served as a non-executive board director for the Great Western Railway – a role he held for just under 11 years. He currently serves as an advisory board member for the faculty of business and law at the University of Southampton, as an Honorary Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, and as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey. For more information, visit:
  • Posted on: 01/26/2023

    Mobile clinics could make Dollar General a medical destination point

    Given Dollar General's extensive store reach -- including in many rural and underserved markets -- this could be a great way of improving health access. If successful, it would drive foot traffic to Dollar General locations and would be positive for sales. All that said, the mobile nature of the clinic and the fact that it is operated by a third party makes this a stand-alone offering. It will be interesting to see how Dollar General intends for this to deepen its own involvement in health and wellbeing.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2023

    Will ChatGPT supercharge chatbot conversations?

    I have been impressed with ChatGPT -- especially the quality of responses it gives which also seem very natural. If this can be applied to retailer chatbots and service functions then I can see the experience being elevated. Search would also be transformed as you could simply ask it to find things within certain parameters (price ranges, sizes, etc.) and it would come up with a curated list of options: almost like having your own personal shopper. There are a lot of very exciting applications here!
  • Posted on: 01/25/2023

    Will consumer anger drive down inflation?

    This isn't shopper anger. It's simply the law of supply and demand. Consumers have been battered by a whole raft of price increases and are taking action to rein in their costs. In a market where there is a lot of choice -- of retailers, of different brands, of retailer own labels, etc. -- then those that put prices up by too much will suffer as shoppers switch to alternatives or cut the amount they buy; market share loss will ensue. This won't remove inflation, but it will help moderate it somewhat.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2023

    Should Dollar General sweat its former CEO taking over at Dollar Tree?

    Compared to Dollar General, Dollar Tree has been a bit of a laggard -- especially as it struggled to get to grips with the integration of Family Dollar which has been plagued by issues. While the company seems to be resolving some of the problems, and has made some good financial progress by moving to a $1.25 price point at its main fascia, there is a lot of work still to do. I feel Rick Dreiling will push this progress further and faster. Is this a threat to Dollar General? Maybe in the long term, but thanks to its massive expansion plans and its strong management Dollar General is a superior operation and I don't expect Dollar Tree to best it anytime soon!
  • Posted on: 01/24/2023

    Amazon looks to undercut rivals with monthly Rx prescription plan

    Amazon will hope that the simplicity and low-cost of RxPass will attract more people to Amazon Pharmacy which, although it has grown and taken some market share, has fallen a long way short of disrupting the drug market. While the $5 flat fee for RxPass is competitive, Amazon will need to contend with other low-cost drug providers such as Cost Plus Drug Company, GoodRx, and Walmart’s $4 drug list. It may also struggle to overcome the entrenched habits of many consumers who are happy to continue using the major drugstores to fill their prescriptions.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2023

    Does retail need a data-based rebuild?

    Data is critical for making informed decisions and using it more effectively -- which includes analyzing it properly -- is incredibly helpful. It is especially useful in areas like pricing and demand forecasting, provided it is actionable. That said, human input is also needed -- especially on the softer side such as range development, store standards, and merchandising. Interestingly, Woolworths is somewhat weak on all of these things: a lot of its stores and products leave a great deal to be desired!
  • Posted on: 01/23/2023

    Nordstrom gets snagged by apparel markdown pressures

    Wider discounting pressures were unhelpful. But most of this is on Nordstrom. Over the holidays, most department stores were a mess. Assortments were lackluster and disjointed and there were a lot of inventory overhangs from previous seasons. Nordstrom Rack is even worse. Since the pandemic, Nordstrom Rack does not seem to have been able to get back on the front foot. Its ranges have become increasingly dull with far fewer "gems" to delight customers. Inventory levels at stores are also sub-optimal and highly variable: some shops have far too much stuff and others have far too little. All of this creates for a poor shopping experience which has deterred shoppers from visiting and buying.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2023

    Will Lowe’s become birthday party central for kids?

    In the general scheme of things, this is a small initiative that won't make an enormous difference to Lowe's business. However it's a good idea that introduces the idea of DIY, making, and crafting to kids who will, one day, be fully fledged consumers. It also helps Lowe's visibility with parents to some degree, which is an area it needs to address as it so often plays second fiddle to Home Depot.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2023

    Are CVS and Walgreens prepared to be at the center of the abortion debate?

    The job of CVS and Walgreens is to sell what their customers want and need. It is not to pass moral judgement on those customers. They should probably ignore any criticism as most of it is highly irrational, but the correct response would be to say that they respect the right of each individual to control their own body and to make their own decisions about their health and lives.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2023

    Retailers should be prepping now for economic recovery

    Economic cycles are relevant and important. However they are not the sole determinant of success in retail -- that comes from understanding the customer. Focusing on the customer and where they are headed is what matters most. That's both a short range thing in terms of trading tactics and a longer range thing in terms of business strategy. Paying attention to both is critical.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2023

    Will bankruptcy enable Party City to succeed for years to come?

    Let's assume bankruptcy allows Party City to get its enormous debt levels down and to restructure the business so it has a better financial foundation. Where does that leave it? Still vulnerable in my opinion. Why? Because the problems aren't just about debt. They are about relevance. Party City used to be one of the main games in town for occasions and events. Now it's more of an also-ran. Spirit Halloween has taken a big slice of the Halloween market. Target has improved its party offering -- including with its Spritz own-brand. Many others have muscled in too. Against these changes, Party City has stood still and has lost sales and customers. It needs to reinvent and reinvigorate and that's a tall order.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2023

    Are retail communications out of sync with consumers?

    Some retailers are terribly guilty of this. And it isn't just about frequency -- a problem though that is. Much is about relevance. Retailers like Gap and J.Crew just fire off generic emails offering discounts with no thought or personalization. The number of times I've had emails from Gap leading with womenswear (which is completely irrelevant to me) is absurd. Too many irrelevant emails is boon to the unsubscribe button.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2023

    Does Neiman Marcus have too many eggs in too few baskets?

    There are risks and benefits. The benefits are that Neiman deeply understands its customers and is able to build extremely strong levels of loyalty. Their core affluent shoppers are also somewhat immune to economic cycles which, at the present time, is highly beneficial. The risk comes from losing even a fraction of those shoppers -- from doing the wrong thing or, in the case of older ones, from death. Neiman probably should look to broaden its sales base -- especially to make its stores more productive - but it has to do so carefully so as not to alienate the core customer base.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2023

    Will gambling on a Saks Fifth Avenue flagship casino pay off?

    A luxury casino that is a destination for those seeking leisure and entertainment could work for Saks in Manhattan -- especially as I am sure that the company will manage security and access policy very tightly. In a way, it adds to the theater and spectacle of the department store space. However, this is very much an exception: I don't think this is viable for many other retailers in most other locations.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2023

    Is culture the key to Target’s success?

    Yes, culture is a very important part of Target's success. The company is humble and has a strong desire to learn and to implement change. It also allows reasonable risk taking. These things allow Target to constantly evolve in the face of a changing market. Target also works hard to understand shoppers, which is why so many of its initiatives are successful. On top of all this, Target treats people well which is why it comes across as a "nice" firm to work with and to do business with.

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