Warby Parker cuts jobs as inflation weighs on fashion

Warby Parker, which pioneered the direct-to-consumer model for stylish eyewear under $100, announced job cuts to its staff on Monday, blaming an uncertain economic environment.

The company said it cut 63 positions. The roles represent 2% of Warby Parker’s total number of employees and 15% of its corporate staff.

Co-founders and co-CEOs Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal said in the announcement that the cuts would not include customer-facing positions, or in its retail and lab divisions, according to an email with the announcement obtained by CNNBusiness. Warby Parker operates 169 retail stores in addition to its DTC business.

Gilboa and Blumenthal attributed their decision to the economic downturn.

“As we have discussed over the past few weeks, the global economy continues to face significant volatility and uncertainty. This is impacting consumer behavior across all sectors, including the healthcare industry. ‘optics,’ they wrote in the internal memo circulated to employees. “As a business, we have to do our best to adapt, which sometimes means making tough decisions in the best interest of the business.”

They added, “While this is an incredibly difficult decision, we are making these changes to enable us to operate in a more focused and agile manner and to capitalize more effectively on our highest impact opportunities.”

Everything costs more

It’s not just about food and fuel: Americans now pay far more than before the pandemic for almost everything.
As they struggle to stretch their weekly budgets to cover the rising costs of basic necessities, more and more households are also racking up credit card debt to meet the high cost of living.

Credit card debt jumped $100 billion, or 13%, in the past year. This is the largest percentage increase in over 20 years.

And if something isn’t a necessity, they don’t buy it – or at least not as much. That left big-box retailers like Walmart and Target with bloated inventories of clothing and other general merchandise.
Walmart announced last week that it was laying off about 200 company employees.

Warby Parker’s decision closely follows direct-to-consumer shoe seller AllBirds, which recently cut some positions at the company, as well as a series of layoffs on resale platform StockX.

As Warby Parker prepares to release its quarterly results on Thursday, its share price has fallen 70% so far this year. In May, the company announced results below expectations.

Luz W. German