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: 07/29/2021

    Store associates shouldn’t have to be the mask or vaccine police

    There will be tremendous backlash if retailers try to enforce proof of vaccination. But, having been harrassed twice in one week FOR wearing a mask (in Florida) I'm all in favor of retailers requiring masks for all.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2021

    Retailers still have a COVID-19 problem

    Unfortunately, retailers can't solve this problem — 30 to 40% of the population apparently is not going to get the vaccine, no matter what (perhaps unless a new variant is so severe that they very belatedly come to their senses). Also unfortunately, the unvaccinated put the rest of us at risk. Living in Florida and having recently returned from Arkansas, I see mask wearing in Florida is at best 50/50 and in Arkansas it is more like 10/90. My perception is that the unvaccinated are also least likely to be concerned for the wellbeing of others and least likely to wear masks. I recently had an acquaintance tell me she would not get vaccinated because she "has breathing problems" but that she was safe because she "always wears a mask". She told me this face to face with her mask under her chin. So, it's a societal problem now and I fear government and retailers can't solve it. We'll just have to ride it out and hope there are enough of us that still wear masks, get vaccinated, get boosters, etc. But that's a big maybe.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2021

    Is Domino’s two-minute curbside wait guarantee a big deal or no big deal?

    Yes, it will probably improve loyalty and provide a point of differentiation, for now. As a society, though, I'm not sure it's such a great thing to keep sending messages to consumers that they can have whatever they want as fast as they want it. It feeds false expectations and slowly but steadily undermines our need to be patient and work together sometimes.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2021

    What does it take for stores to satisfy their pickiest customers?

    There is selective, there is picky, and there is difficult. Customization and spending more time with the first two types may work, but if a customer is just picky because they are difficult, retailers are best to cut their losses. A small percentage of customers can't be pleased, no matter what. Best to devote time and resources to those who are winnable and let the unwinnable shop at the competition. They won't be happy there either.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2021

    Should retailers continue to require associates and customers to wear masks?

    The horse is out of the barn on this one here in Florida and there is no going back. Customers were walking around businesses without masks before the CDC announcement because of our governor. Shortly, everywhere, it will be everyone for themselves and I guess that's kind of how it's been for awhile. My advice to individuals is to get vaccinated, and wear a mask if you want to protect yourself further. And, we should all hope that new variants aren't able to work their way around the vaccines. Retailers can't police this.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2021

    Will climate action become less of a priority for retail post-pandemic?

    Climate change is a slow-moving crisis that government and business have ignored for far too long. We're already over halfway to the tipping point, according to some studies. Hopefully, consumers, businesses, and governments will wake up before it's actually too late. The retail industry has to make a choice between being on the right side of history, or not. As bad as the pandemic is, it certainly shouldn't be used as an excuse to do less on climate change. Execs who do nothing might ask themselves what their grandchildren will think of them in 50 years (or less).
  • Posted on: 03/29/2021

    King Soopers: Killed in the line of retail duty

    Gene, I agree with you. One of the primary reasons for these mass shootings is the easy availability of guns. Sure, there are other ways to harm and kill people, but how many videos and images of large arsenals of guns do we have to see to make the connection between the availability of guns and mass killings? I think a federal gun buyback program could be a great start, if the program is serious and robust. But, that's only if enough Republicans are willing to vote for some kind of sensible firearms sales restrictions, which I highly doubt. I'm guessing eventually the problem will become so bad that something will get done, but it will probably get a lot worse before it gets better. Then again, 500,000+ pandemic deaths have not been enough for us to really tackle coronavirus seriously as a country, so I'm not too optimistic.
  • Posted on: 03/12/2021

    Can Amazon avoid being dragged into the political cancel culture fray?

    Free enterprise. Those particular senators champion it a lot, except when it doesn't work for whatever they are pushing, or pushing against.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2021

    Is it the right time to reopen food bars?

    I agree with many of the commenters that salad bars can be unhygienic and that some consumers can't be trusted to behave properly when utilizing them. However, have you ever spent time in a restaurant kitchen? Having worked in a deli many moons ago, there were lots of gross practices that were out of view of the customer. Today, I have the "luxury" of reading the weekly restaurant inspection report in the Miami Herald. Suffice to say that chain and independent restaurants, high-end and low-end, often have major hygiene issues that are unseen by diners. Thank God for food and restaurant inspectors - we just need a lot more of them.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2021

    Should retailers ask workers to return to their offices?

    There are so many collaborative tools available for office workers that I see minimal need to force workers to return to a physical office. I agree that asking is one thing, but mandating is another. And, since we are talking about retail companies, unfortunately the store and warehouse associates haven't had the luxury of WFH in almost all cases.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created

    It doesn't matter whether you are Republican, Democrat, or something else, too many business leaders have been deferential and enabling to our bully-in-chief for far too long. When the 25th amendment is being talked about regularly by serious people, you know this is too much. It was clear when he ran how he would act, and it has gone downhill from there. Unfortunately, many individuals have said, "but my 401K is doing so well..." and many business leaders have decided to aid and abet Trump because they thought he was part of the reason their companies were doing well. I don't often agree with Lindsey Graham, but "Enough is enough. Count me out!" Business leaders need to continue to speak up, albeit tardily. PS: Fox, Twitter and Facebook should really look long and hard in the mirror and figure out if they want to be something besides conspiracy theory enablers when they grow up.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2020

    Will sports marketing become a victim of the pandemic?

    All of the above, in terms of reasons for the decline. Personally, sports haven't been enough of a distraction from the election chaos and tragedy of the pandemic. So, I either watch news to see what's happening, or get involved in some new series on Netflix, which provides a more complete distraction. Watching a game on TV, the distractions include artificial crowd noise, empty or near empty stands, and discussions of how many players have tested positive and which games are cancelled.. Shortened seasons and out of season leagues and events means all sports in the covid era will have asterisks attached to them. By next fall, things should be back to semi normal, I sure hope.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2020

    2020 creeps up on the RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge

    I'm not sure people have the patience for 90 second ads anymore. That aside, the Hobby Lobby ad would be good if these were normal times but they aren't. Ignoring the pandemic may work with a large portion of their customers but will alienate others, especially if the scientists are right and things worsen in the cold weather.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2020

    Chipotle battles escalating delivery costs

    I think it could be close to too late to reset consumer expectations on delivery charges. We're all used to free now and this is a deal breaker for some. I see some restaurants that charge for delivery offering free delivery about one out of every four weeks, so customers are trained to wait for the free week.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Should Yelp be calling out businesses accused of racist behavior?

    It's not perfect, but with the chaos we have in this country right now and the lack of federal leadership, racists and all sorts of other haters are out of the closet and feeling more empowered than ever. So, large businesses like Yelp, who have some capacity to help call out egregious behavior are taking matters into their own hands. It's better than nothing so good for them.

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