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Insider Retail: Brands grapple with election week, podcast hosts test out Instagram DTC brands, and luxury merchants get creative to keep airport sales up

Hello! 

Congrats on making it to the end of a very long week. If you've been overwhelmed with the non-stop election coverage, I invite you to take a little break to read about stores, apparel, and fast-food. Maybe even stop by Starbucks and get a drink in one of its holiday-themed cups! (They launch today).

Insider Retail has got you covered with a round-up of election — and non-election related — retail news. So keep reading to get some news that's a little less taxing on the brain.

And if you haven't already subscribed, click here to get me, Shoshy Ciment, and my colleague, Bethany Biron, in your inbox every Friday.

Onto the news:

Retailers prepared for election chaos, as some brands got political

Even before the election began, retailers were preparing for rioting and looting, boarding up windows and storefronts to brace for election day fallout. 

And with the results dragging out through the end of the week, brands couldn't help but voice their opinions on social media.

Madeline spoke with Gap's CMO about how the brand stays neutral but socially conscious during this time of increased politicization. Gap later sparked backlash when it tweeted a tone deaf message about the election, which it later deleted.

What's the lesson in all this? People are tuned into what's going on. But it seems like some much prefer their brands to stay out of politics. 

Catherine wrote about the All Consuming podcast. Hosts Noah Kalina and Adam Lisagor buy and review different products advertised to them on Instagram.

The pair has tested out DTC brands selling numerous items. These include: dandruff shampoo, cereal for adults, vegan "chicken" nuggets, an emergency preparedness kit, and more.

More than just a helpful review, Catherine found that the podcast offers an "insider perspective on marketing and modern consumerism."

Duty-free shops in airports have historically been helpful sales channels for luxury retailers such as Estee Lauder Co. and Kering.

More than two-thirds of international travelers make purchases at duty-free stores. And tax-free items have long been an effective incentive offered by companies to make travelers purchase a new designer purse or fragrance. 

But now, halted travel is forcing some brands to get creative to make up for lost sales. For example, some retailers are selling their overstock online. Others are investing in private airports.

Everything else you need to know

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  • Starbucks' iconic red holiday cups return Friday.
  • Walmart is doing away with some robots.
  • McDonald's hired a new chief diversity officer.
  • Fast-food giants plan to profit from pandemic-related real estate opportunities.
  • Nestle banks on Freshly to replace traditional office lunches. 
  • Friendly's filed for bankruptcy on Sunday.

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