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: 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.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2020

    Will homes of the future include ‘Amazon Rooms’?

    I'm with you on this one, Georganne. I get the sanitizing thing, sort of, but you can always bring the items inside and stick them in a closet, garage, or storage room, and leave them for a few days, and then wash your hands. And, are we buying so much stuff now that we need special intake rooms? At what point do even the uber wealthy say "maybe we have enough stuff and really ought to cut back" when there is a pandemic along with societal upheaval and vast inequality? PS: It's not just Hollywood that isn't like the rest of us.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2020

    Has COVID-19 revealed pickup’s pain points?

    In general, my experience with curbside pickup has been very good. However, there are some places here in South Florida that will not do it. J. Alexander's, a chain restaurant, is one. They reverted from having a "pop it in the trunk" option early in the pandemic to only doing in-store pickup now. With restaurants open at 100% capacity, that's not an option for some. Another glitch in many systems is retailers and restaurants not knowing which order goes with which vehicle. That is easily fixed by having a field in the app or online to enter one's license plate number, or it can be confirmed upon arrival by phone. No fancy technology needed.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2020

    Should marketers keep masks out of commercials?

    Living in South Florida, and in a state with over 500,000 cases of the virus so far, it astounded me early on to see local commercials with no social distancing and no masks. The same for local newscasts. But, I guess I'm immune to it now. Ads that don't take into account the "new normal" still seem a bit odd to me, but everyone down here is exhausted, and there are a lot of people who are going to shop, dine in, frequent clubs, not socially distance, and try to go back to the "old normal", science be damned. So, I guess it depends which group of people you prefer to appeal to, because it's totally polarized, at least here.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2020

    Trader Joe’s says ‘never mind’ on private label name changes

    This decision may not stop many people from shopping there, but it's still an unforced error by a retailer that so many have respect for. As Bob said, it's better to slow down in the first place, then announce a reasoned decision. Better still to get rid of product names that are in the gray area of possibly making fun of groups and/or cultures, even if you just do it because it's the right thing to do.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2020

    Anti-mask shoppers find themselves publicly shamed

    Yet another way in which the US has handled the pandemic worse than any other country in the world. This is what happens in the absence of governmental leadership: we are all left to fend for ourselves, with predictable results.

Contact Al

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.