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Warby Parker is slashing jobs as inflation takes a toll on fashion

<i>Mark Lennihan/AP</i><br/>Warby Parker eyewear is displayed at a company retail store
Mark Lennihan/AP
Warby Parker eyewear is displayed at a company retail store

By Parija Kavilanz, CNN Business

Trendy eyewear brand Warby Parker is the latest in a string of retailers struggling to stay the course as a wobbly economy forces households to pare back and rethink their discretionary buying.

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 eliminated 63 corporate positions. The roles represent 2% of Warby Parker’s total employees and 15% of its corporate staff.

Cofounders 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 blamed their decision on 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 in every industry, including the optical industry,” they wrote in the internal memo circulated to employees. “As a business, we must do our best to adapt, which sometimes involves making difficult decisions in the best interests of the company.”

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

Everything costs more

It’s not just food and fuel: Americans are now paying considerably more than they were pre-pandemic for almost everything.

As they struggle to stretch their weekly budgets to cover the rising costs of necessities, more households also are piling up credit card debt to keep up with the high cost of living.

Credit card debt has jumped by $100 billion, or 13%, over the past year. It’s the biggest percentage increase in more than 20 years.

And if something is not a necessity, they’re not buying it — or at least not as much of it. That’s left big-box retailers like Walmart and Target with bloated supplies of clothing and other general merchandise.

Walmart last week said it was laying off about 200 corporate employees.

Warby Parker’s move closely follows on the heels of direct-to-consumer footwear seller AllBirds, which recently eliminated some corporate positions, as well as a round of layoffs at resale platform StockX.

As Warby Parker prepares to report its quarterly results Thursday, its stock price has dropped 70% so far this year. In May, the company reported results that missed expectations.

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