Multiline and Specialty Retailers & Distributors

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The Multiline and Specialty Retailers & Distributors industry encompasses a variety of retailing categories such as department stores, mass merchants, home products stores and warehouse clubs, as well as a smaller segment of distributors like electronics wholesalers and automotive wholesalers. These entities (except for the distribution segment) commonly manage global supply chains to anticipate consumer demands, keep costs low and keep products stocked in their brick-and-mortar storefronts. This is a highly competitive industry in which each category generally has a small number of important players characterised by generally low margins. The relatively substitutable nature of retail makes entities in this industry especially susceptible to reputational risks.

Relevant Issues (5 of 26)

Why are some issues greyed out? The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Multiline and Specialty Retailers & Distributors

Energy Management
  • Energy Management in Retail & Distribution

    Entities in this industry require significant amounts of energy for retail facilities and warehouses. An increasing number of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulations and incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy may result in price increases for conventional electricity sources while making alternative sources more cost-competitive. Fossil fuel-based energy production and consumption contribute to significant environmental impacts, including climate change and pollution. Energy sourcing decisions can create trade-offs related to energy supply costs and operational reliability. Overall energy efficiency and access to alternative energy sources are becoming increasingly important for entities to manage. Efficiency in this area can have financial implications through direct cost savings, which are particularly beneficial in this low-margin industry.
Data Security
  • Data Security

    Consumers trust retail entities with their financial and personal data every time they make a noncash transaction with a credit or debit card or other method. Credit cards and debit cards have eclipsed cash and cheques as consumers’ preferred payment methods in many jurisdictions around the world. In these noncash transactions, retailers build up a relationship of trust with consumers, assuring them of the safety of their personal information. Data breaches can occur both through breaches of the physical payment technology, called point-of-sales breaches, as well as through cyber-attacks. As consumers become more educated about the threats of cybercrime, their perceptions of an entity’s cybersecurity will become increasingly important to maintain or gain market share. Retailers that prevent major data breaches also can avoid harming brand value and reduce liabilities.
Labour Practices
  • Labour Practices

    The retail industry’s significance to the global economy as a major employer often puts it at the centre of public labour-practice discussions. These discussions can have serious reputational implications for entities in the industry if their labour practices are poor. The low average wages typical of the industry, which help entities maintain low prices on products, may increase these labour-related risks. Since customers regularly interact directly with retail employees, entities may experience decreased market share and revenue from negative consumer sentiment because of poor labour relations. Entities can enhance labour productivity and employee engagement by taking a long-term approach to managing workers in areas such as compensation and workers’ rights. In addition to mitigating risks, improvements in labour productivity may strengthen an entity’s reputation and reduce its cost of capital.
Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Workforce Diversity & Inclusion

    The Multiline and Specialty Retailers & Distributors industry is consumer-facing and relies on communicating effectively with customers during the sales process and adapting to changing consumer demands for products. As many developed markets undergo massive demographic shifts, including increases in minority populations, entities in this industry can benefit from ensuring that their culture and hiring and promotion practices embrace building a diverse workforce for management and junior staff. Retailers that respond to this demographic shift and employ staff who can recognise the needs of diverse populations may be better positioned to capture demand from consumer markets whose members have traditionally been overlooked, providing entities a competitive advantage. Furthermore, such entities may benefit from improved reputations among consumers, as well as decreased legal and regulatory risks.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
  • Product Sourcing, Packaging & Marketing

    Entities in the Multiline and Specialty Retailers & Distributors industry sell a wide array of products including electronics, clothing, furnishings and cosmetics, all of which have environmental and social impacts throughout their lifecycles. The size and buying power of many entities in this industry allow them to work with their suppliers to source products and packaging with lower lifecycle environmental and social impacts. Entities that perform well in this regard may benefit from increased customer demand and improved margins. To take a proactive approach to engaging suppliers, entities in the industry may employ strategies such as using certification standards and reducing the environmental impacts of packaging.

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