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Retail Sales Surged In May; Kimberly-Clark Appoints CMO


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April Showers, May Flowers

Retail sales surged in May, recovering 63% of their losses from March and April. While this is a sign of recovery, Reuters reports, the United States economy isn’t out of the hole, especially since many states have rising COVID-19 infections. Still, the 17.7% increase in retail spending last month was the biggest monthly uptick since the federal government started tracking those numbers back in 1992. It’s a 6.1% year-over-year decline. Retail isn’t the only vertical showing green shoots in May. Also seeing some late spring sunshine are auto dealerships (sales increasing 44.1%), service stations (12.8%), electronics and appliance stores (50.5%), clothing stores (188%), furniture stores (89.7%), restaurants and bars (29.1%) and hobby/music/book stores (88.2%).

The New CMO 

Kimberly-Clark hired Zena Srivatsa Arnold as chief digital and marketing officer. Former CMO Giusy Buonfantino departed last November after only 18 months. The past few years have been tempestuous for CMOs, but Arnold’s appointment follows a trend of marketing leaders taking on expanded roles (in this case, adding the digital component) and responsibilities. New CMOs also bring more hands-on data expertise. Arnold comes to Kimberly-Clark after a seven-year run at Google, most recently as global head of growth for the ChromeOS group. Though she does have a legacy consumer background, with stints at Procter & Gamble and Kellogg, Adweek reports

How About Them, Apple?

The European Union announced two formal probes into alleged antitrust violations by Apple through its Apple Pay and App Store practices, The Wall Street Journal reports. With Apple Pay, regulators are examining exclusive features. For instance, iPhone owners can download other payment apps, but only Apple Pay has no-contact payments that sync the device with point-of-sale and transit systems. And the App Store has long faced complaints by apps such as Spotify and the Fortnite game-maker Epic Games that it is anticompetitive for Apple to impose 30% fees on in-game purchases and subscriptions, forcing up their prices and costs while Apple offers rival music and gaming services. Spotify, which is based in Sweden, also contends that Apple unfairly limits its engagement across Apple’s suite of products, including Siri, HomePods and Apple Watch.


At Oracle, the focus for the past year has been on shifting revenue away from declining businesses, and the strategy appears to be working. “Our profitable businesses are getting bigger, while our less profitable businesses are getting smaller,” executive chairman Larry Ellison told investors Tuesday during the company’s 2020 fiscal year earnings call. What’s growing? Cloud infrastructure and Oracle’s autonomous database product are picking up serious momentum. What’s on the decline? Legacy hardware and … Oracle Data Cloud. Although Ellison didn’t call out ODC by name this time around, he’s pointed to ODC’s downturn in the past. “There are some of our businesses that are not, if you will, hot,” Ellison snarked during Oracle’s fourth quarter earnings call last year in a reference to ODC. Despite the ongoing mix shift toward growth businesses in 2020, Oracle’s revenue for its fiscal year took a hit due to the pandemic and was down 6% in the quarter YoY to $10.4 billion. CEO Safra Catz did not share guidance for 2021. Oracle’s stock price declined by as much as 5% in after-hours trading.

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