In this episode of Motley Fool Answers, Alison Southwick is joined by Motley Fool personal finance expert Robert Brokamp and analyst Emily Flippen. Robert talks about the importance of creating a will and an estate plan and suggests some ways you can easily do that. Alison chats with Emily to get the latest updates from the consumer goods space, touching on how some companies have differentiated themselves and emerged as big winners in 2020 and much more.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on November 17, 2020.

Alison Southwick: This is Motley Fool Answers. I'm Alison Southwick, and I'm joined, as always, by Robert Brokamp, Personal Finance Expert here at The Motley Fool. Hey, Bro!

Robert Brokamp: Hey, Alison!

Southwick: In this week's episode, we're going to kick off our investing series, where we're going to look back on the year and look ahead for various sectors with the help of the Industry Focus podcast team. This week, it's Emily Flippen and Consumer Goods. All that and more on this week's episode of Motley Fool Answers.

[...]

So, Bro, what's up?

Brokamp: Well, Alison, the world has experienced a lot of loss this year. We all know about the hundreds of thousands of people who passed away due to COVID, one of them being my father-in-law, and many others have passed away due to other causes. Our Producer, Rick, lost both his parents this year, and very soon we'll be reading articles about all the celebrities who have died in 2020. One of them was Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who, as you may have heard, died without a will or any kind of estate plan.

And so, estate planning has been on my mind a lot lately, since I am the executor of my father-in-law's estate. And my wife and I are in the process of actually updating our own estate plan. And sometime next year, I expect we'll have a very comprehensive episode about estate planning, including some insights from my and Rick's experiences.

But for now, just let me say, if you don't have an estate plan, please just get it done. It's among the most neglected aspects of financial planning. I can't tell you how many times I talked to someone and they said, yeah, I need to take care of that, I just haven't gotten around to it. And many of these people are among the most successful folks that I know, there's just something about estate planning that people want to avoid. And I get it, I've put off my own updating of our current plan longer than I should have, but you just got to get it done. And the first step is to find a qualified attorney. And not just any attorney, but one who specializes in estate planning in your area, because estate planning laws are local based on counties, cities, and states, things like that.

To start, just ask for references from your family, your friends, your accountant, maybe your financial planner, if you have one. You actually might have some sort of a legal benefit associated with your work, so you could just reach out to your HR department and ask if they have, like, a prepaid legal plan or anything like that or maybe the EAP [Employee Assistance Program] has some sort of legal bonus or legal benefits to it. There are a couple of associations that might help with finding an attorney in your area. And both of their websites actually have some solid education about estate planning. One is the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the website is www.actec.org. And then the other is, The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, www.naepc.org.

As you know, attorneys aren't cheap, so a full estate plan is going to cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, but it's generally worth it. That said, if you don't want to spend that much, there are other services, online services like Nolo.com, that are much cheaper and they could be fine for a true do-it-yourselfer, who doesn't have a complicated estate. That's how my wife and I did our first will. But at this point in our lives, being able to sit down and talk things through with an experienced local attorney is worth the extra cost.

Okay. So, taking care of the legal documents is an important first step, but you also have to think about all your stuff, and I can tell you that the biggest challenge in settling my father-in-law's estate will not be passing along his accounts, partially because he just didn't have that much money, but also because there's a whole legal process for transferring these types of assets. The biggest challenge will be figuring out what to do with all his junk. He was a hoarder and his house is a disaster, full of all kinds of stuff, including piles of paperwork that go back as far as the 70s. And it's actually literally not safe to spend much time in his house.

Of course, most people aren't this bad, but most Americans do have a lot of stuff that they don't need anymore, and you'd be doing your heirs a big favor by not making it their responsibility, plus, in the process you might make some money. So, our two daughters have actually a little side business of selling our stuff and their own stuff online. They've been selling stuff on eBay, Mercari, Depop, and Poshmark. And a few weekends ago, we cleaned out our garage, made a few hundred dollars selling stuff on Craigslist. Just look in your closets, your basement, your garage, you'll see plenty of stuff you no longer value.

As I was sort of wading through the mounds of stuff in my father-in-law's house, I couldn't help but think, how much he would have had if he had not bought the stuff or if he had sold it after he no longer needed it and he used the money to invest in a simple index fund. And I have no doubt that it would have been worth tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, do yourself and your family a favor, turn your stuff into cash, invest it for your future, and get an estate plan so that it all goes to whomever you want it to as easily as possible.

And that, Alison, is what's up.

[...]

Southwick: We thought we'd close the year on Motley Fool Answers out with a series of episodes where we learn more about each sector, what kind of a year it had and what our analysts are looking for in 2021.

And to kick it off, we have a pretty high bar being set here with Emily Flippen, the host of the Consumer Goods show. Hello, Emily.

Emily Flippen: Hi, thank you for having me, I appreciate the compliment there. I'm not sure if it's true, but I will take it.

Southwick: Oh, I think you set a very high bar. But how have you been? I feel like the last time I saw you, I think you have since climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, it's been awhile.

Flippen: [laughs] I did, back in February-March, it feels both like yesterday and an eternity at the same time.

Southwick: Yeah. That is the first thing that popped into my mind, it was like, didn't she just post some pictures on top of Kilimanjaro? I'm like, but that can't be right, because we've all been locked down for, like, months and months and months. So, yeah, time has definitely lost all meaning.

So, you're joining us to talk about consumer goods, which I believe you cover every Tuesday for Industry Focus. And the sector seems pretty obvious, we are all consumers and we like goods, but maybe not so much. Can you help us break it down, what is considered a consumer goods company?

Flippen: Definitely. So, I took over hosting the Industry Focus: Consumer Goods podcast this year, at the beginning of 2020, and I have to say, as an investor, I had some pretty strong preconceived notions about what consumer goods was. And what I can tell you is, it's not necessarily what you're thinking. When a lot of investors think about consumer goods, they may only think about retail companies. The classic examples are the Macy's and the JCPenneys of the world, but really any company that sells items to individuals as opposed to a business is a consumer goods company. So, you can include big conglomerates like Procter & Gamble as part of that or even, like, smaller, niche branding plays, Yeti, Beyond Meat, a really wide array of companies. And I mentioned before we started filming, but I always argue that even Etsy, a company like Etsy could be argued to be a consumer goods company, because they facilitate the sales of goods to individuals. So, it's a really, really broad category that spans virtually any other sector you can think of as well.

Southwick: Yeah, I don't think I would classify Etsy as a tech company. Just because you have a website, like that's table stakes in the world today, right? You're not a tech company just because you have a website. You are a company if you have a website and you're selling goods over it. So, I think I'm on your side, I think Etsy is a consumer goods company, not tech.

Flippen: [laughs] I appreciate that, I'm going to replay this to Dylan now, so he's fully aware.

Southwick: Alison has spoken. So then, you're talking about not only the companies that make the things, but also the companies that then sell you the things; so, the middleman, so to speak?

Flippen: Exactly. I think a good sector that I can draw a connection to is maybe energy. That's purely business-to-business sales for the most part. But anything that you as a consumer, all of our listeners out there, anything that you touch, it's probably sold to you by a company that competes in the consumer goods area. Now, with end consumer goods, you can always break it down further, there's retail; there's consumer discretionary; staples, right, so just your food and beverages. There's lots of things that you, as an individual, consume. But if you just think about all the different things that you touch in your day-to-day life, all of those, I argue, [laughs] are consumer goods companies.

Southwick: Yeah. And it seems like for an individual investor, it's also a pretty easy sector to get started with when it comes to investing, because you're able to say, I, as a consumer, love this thing. I think this company will be successful because other people are probably going to love it as much as I do. So, I know, for me, some of the first companies I invested in were definitely more the consumer good space.

But what do you think are some of the two, sort of, guiding investing principles for this sector? Is there anything unique you need to consider?

Flippen: Oh, definitely. And one of the first ones is, actually what you just mentioned about it being so approachable to the average investor. In fact, most investors get started in the consumer good space. And the consumer good space is known for having a lot of "value plays," that means that investors come in, they're really excited to buy a company that they know and that they love, but at the same time they're learning about valuation. And they find, oftentimes, failing retail companies that they're familiar with that they think they're getting at a really good bargain. So, when you look at the companies in the consumer good space and the average individual investor coming in getting their first start, it can be easy to fall for these cigar butts, if you will, simply because the sector is so vast and people invest where they know.

In actuality, if you're going to be a successful consumer goods investor, in my opinion -- again, just in my opinion -- the best thing you can do is look for companies that you're familiar with, but are still growing. And a company like Etsy, I still think, is a great example of benefiting from lot of the tailwinds that benefit the consumer goods sector that people may be really familiar with, but still having a rise in sales, even pre-pandemic, as opposed to looking at the Macy's and the JCPenney, to throw out some easy ones out there under the bus; I apologize to those companies, but they are classic, kind of, value destroying companies. So, it's a fun space to get in, and the first tenet is that it's really approachable to the average investor, but it's a blessing and a curse in the sense that it can often mislead new investors into buying companies that are ultimately not the best investments.

Southwick: Yeah, we're probably going to talk about Amazon a fair amount as this conversation unfolds, I imagine, because when I think of the decline of Macy's, and JCPenneys, and Kohl's and all these brick-and-mortar stores, I immediately blame Amazon -- millennials and Amazon, I think, for some reason that goes hand-in-hand, right? And so, it's also easy to kind of think, with Amazon being as expensive as it is, that you, kind of missed your chance, right? You talked about retail companies or consumer goods companies that you love, but are also growing. But for such a juggernaut like Amazon, I can imagine people would be like, well, I don't want to invest in the Macy's because I know they're not growing, and I also don't want to invest in Amazon because it's five bajillion dollars a share.

But I don't know, how do you look for some of the gems that you want to invest in? And you can't say Etsy again.

Flippen: [laughs] I won't, I won't; don't worry. It's so funny that you called out Amazon, because it actually wasn't a company I was planning on mentioning, but now that you brought it up, I'm happy that you did. I think there's a false narrative in the consumer goods industry that Amazon has killed retail. And retail does make up a large part of consumer goods companies. I think in reality, they just accelerated a trend that we already saw happening, which was a lack of adaptability with laggards in the consumer goods industry. And there have been a lot of these successful retail players in the landscape, I'll throw out Best Buy as an example that managed to carve out a really strong value proposition to survive against Amazon. I mean, Best Buy was called [laughs] Amazon showroom for a really long time, but they proved that people still want to physically go into their stores. They have a strong loyalty program, they have the Geek Squad right there to fix your equipment, installation, they added a lot of value-add services that improved your experience as a consumer.

So, the way that I find these companies, the companies that survive in an era of Amazon, is I go back to basics. I mentioned it at the offset, but I love the fact that this industry is so approachable, you as a consumer, your experience, while it is anecdotal, you can multiply that times millions, and probably [laughs] get a decent representation of what the average consumer experience is like. So, go to a Home Depot, go to a Lowe's, shop around a bit, find out what markets they're targeting, find out what makes that experience different for you versus other consumers, and try to learn about the business just by being a customer yourself. I think that's probably the best way that you can go about finding really successful consumer goods companies is by just being that, a consumer.

Southwick: All right. Let's move on and talk about what some of the biggest headlines were for 2020. I mean, we have to obviously [laughs] point to coronavirus, right? I mean, that was really the big headline. So, let's start there.

Flippen: Yeah, I really, I just spent the last few minutes explaining why consumer goods wasn't retail, but ultimately, I'd really be remiss if I didn't mention the impact that COVID has had on retail bankruptcies in 2020. That's probably the single biggest headline that we've seen for the consumer goods industry so far this year. COVID has really accelerated the move toward bankruptcy for companies that, admittedly, were probably already headed that way, but were accelerated to it because of the pandemic.

We saw so many retail companies declare bankruptcy, not necessarily liquidating, but declaring some form of bankruptcy. JCPenney, Pier 1, even Chuck E. Cheese and Sur La Table. I mean, it really was every type -- or at least one business in every retail sector you can imagine, probably struggled and went under as a result of the pandemic. We're seeing reports out today that we're seeing another clothing retailer, you know, go under today or declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It really does feel like, as somebody who covers industry every week, we're seeing a new company fall to the pandemic. It's sad, but at the same time, these were companies that didn't have a strong differentiated strategy heading into it. So, there's no reason to believe that this wasn't already an acceleration of something that was going to happen, admittedly, years into the future, that have just been moved forward as a result of what we're seeing today with COVID.

Southwick: And don't just blame Amazon.

Flippen: And don't just blame Amazon. Legitimately, I could rattle off a list of companies to you, I'll restrain myself, but there are so many niche retailers who have done an amazing job at finding their target market, finding what they can do to retain that target market and then making them, like having a really strong value proposition for them to come in and shop in-person or go to their online stores and shop online. Companies that didn't do this, yeah, they lost customers to Amazon, but they never even tried to [laughs] save it themselves, and when they did, it was too little, too late. So, I won't blame Amazon, I'll blame the companies themselves for the first part.

Southwick: So, who, kind of, emerged as the big winners in 2020? I want to assume whoever makes Clorox wipes and whoever makes toilet paper. Those feel like the obvious answers.

Flippen: It is. And I could say Procter & Gamble again, right? People started brushing their teeth so much more during COVID, it's honestly hilarious. But I actually think the winners that we're seeing in the space are the companies that invested in technology, companies that had built out a strong, what I call, omnichannel presence before COVID, are also the ones that are likely going to survive this pandemic. Now, they weren't necessarily better off as a result of it, but they definitely were well-positioned to survive.

Ulta Beauty comes to mind, a company that was really beginning to leverage its technology to get people to come into their stores. They had a strong value proposition. We saw them come out with an agreement last week with Target that they're going to be putting small Ulta stores into Targets all across the country. This is the type of innovation and investments, both in technology and partnerships, that we've seen from successful consumer goods companies. So, sure, there have been tailwinds for toilet paper, toothbrushes, and masks, let's say, during the pandemic. That was certainly not a result of strong strategic action from companies, but sheer luck, [laughs] for lack of a better word. But at the same time, we have seen companies really excel and handle this pandemic well by understanding their market and making investments in technology before the fact, that will allow them to survive this however long it goes on.

Southwick: Well, let's look to 2021, a year that is just right around the corner. What are some trends that you are watching?

Flippen: Yeah, the first one is, definitely what I'm going to call retention-driven comps, that's comparable store sales, this is essentially a phenomenon that we've seen that all of these retailers that were essential retailers open during the pandemic, everywhere from Walmart and Target, to Ollie's and Dick's Sporting Goods, saw crazy increases in their comparable store sales, their same-store sales, because everybody was shopping there, right, because they needed to stock up on toilet paper or whatever it was. It led to huge increases in year-over-year sales.

Now, that makes up for a really [laughs] interesting case in 2021, because obviously, whatever sales they are doing in 2020 may not be as impressive as they were this year. So, what are companies doing to retain the customers that they attracted during the pandemic? I think companies that don't actively go after retention for these new customers are going to have really tough comparables next year, that could potentially make the market punish them for some shrinkage in year-over-year numbers. Now, whether or not that happens is anyone's guess, but I do think the most successful companies will be the ones that have invested in retaining those new people. Once you have somebody's credit card, once you have their email address, once you have their phone number, once they're in your loyalty program, you as a company need to do something to ensure that when that person can go back and walk into whatever store they want, whenever we have a vaccine, whenever that may be, that they're going to your store again. If you're not making that concerted effort then I'm really worried about what your 2021 looks like.

Southwick: I guess I'm kind of baffled at the idea that, like, a sporting goods store had a really fantastic year, like, what were people stocking on, soccer balls and, I don't know, guns? Maybe guns. Wherever you sell guns.

Flippen: All guns, also canoes, camping equipment, outdoor lifestyle. Suddenly everybody was camping again. I know, myself, I went camping for at least a week during this pandemic. I had to buy stuff that I otherwise just didn't have on hand. So, there's a ton of one-time sales, especially for companies like Dick's Sporting Goods. And I think that's a great example of a company that's going to have that problem, because you know who's not buying a canoe in 2021, a lot of people that bought a canoe in 2020, so what are you doing to that person who bought a canoe to get them to come back in next year and buy whatever upgraded aspect for their outdoor lifestyle that they need today that they didn't get last year?

Southwick: Yeah, a lot of dogs. Hard to get your hands on a dog in 2020; 2021 might be a better year to get a dog. Actually, we were having a conversation with some friends the other day who recently built a new house. And they were saying, it's practically impossible to get -- like, lumbar is insanely expensive right now. Appliances. A fellow Fool of ours just renovated his kitchen, and he's like, we've had a back order for our range for months now, because you just can't -- and so it is fascinating how we are still spending money, but we're doing it to, like, upgrade certain aspects of our lives, like our kitchen and our house.

Flippen: Yeah, and it's so funny to look at the way that consumers have consumed, because not only have the comparable store sales for Home Depot and Lowe's been crazy as a result of exactly what you just mentioned, people investing in the space around them, but also just the amount of money that people are spending on food. We hear so much about people talking about takeout, for instance, and delivery, and that gets a lot of hype and excitement. For instance, tomorrow on Industry Focus: Consumer Goods, Jason Hall and I are talking about DoorDash's S-1 that they've just released. So, there's been demand there for those delivery services for consumers, but there's also just been a ton of consumers looking at learning new skills, one of which is cooking in their kitchen.

So, these direct-to-consumer delivery services, which were having such terrible, I'll say, five years prior to this, are suddenly all that much more essential. The consumer sales for products like Beyond Meat have been through the roof. It is such an interesting trend that we've seen in consumption that's so unique to the past few months, I wonder what it looks like for the next year. I don't know, but I know as an investor, I am just [laughs] so excited to see.

Southwick: Oh, nuts! That was going to be my follow-up question: what has permanently changed and what's going to go back to "normal?"

Flippen: [laughs] Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, there are so many things that I think have permanently changed within our minds. And I think that's what's probably the most understudied aspect of COVID. We talked about not going back to work, whatever it may be, but I actually think the way that we engage and live in the world, the way that we think about things like interactions and shopping for groceries, I think that has changed.

I don't want to overstate the impact. Even at peak pandemic, we only saw about a quarter of Americans ordering groceries online, so there are still a lot of people that were opting to physically go to grocery stores even during peak pandemic. So, I don't want to say that everybody is [laughs] going to be using Instacart or Amazon Fresh, that's overstating the impact, but I definitely think that once we become, as consumers, accustomed to using new technology, we're more likely to do that in the future.

I'll use Chipotle as an example. I downloaded the Chipotle app for the first time during this pandemic, and I've ordered Chipotle maybe 10 times more frequently than I would have prior, simply because I had the ease of access right there on my phone. They had my credit card information already stored. I knew I could get free delivery. These were the things that just improved the ease of access for my everyday life. Those are the little trends that I think don't fully go away as a result of a vaccine.

Southwick: Yeah. I know that we had never done GrubHub, or DoorDash, or Instacart prior to March, like, we had never done any of those. Bro, Rick, how about you? Is there anything that's changed that you think has permanently changed, as far as your consumer spending habits go, as a result of this wacky fun year we just had?

Brokamp: I can't think of anything off the top of my head, actually.

Southwick: Nothing, nothing? I don't believe you.

Rick Engdahl: Definitely there have been a lot more of the grocery deliveries and UberEats and stuff like that.

Brokamp: I still have never used GrubHub or UberEats or anything like that.

Flippen: Oh, good for you.

Southwick: There's nothing, Bro, that you've realized you could go without, perhaps, entirely ...

Brokamp: ... pants. Pants, for example.

Southwick: Pants. Yeah. That's on-brand for Bro there. All right. Well, let's move on and talk a little bit about some stocks that you particularly like. So, how about, first off, we'll have you talk about one stock to watch and maybe one to avoid. So, what's one stock that you have your eye on?

Flippen: Yeah, I did everything in my power not to mention this company prior. And when you were hinting about how hard it is to find a dog, it took -- I had to keep my mouth shut, because I didn't want to ruin this moment right now for one of the stocks that I think is the most important for any consumer goods investor or any investor, in general, to watch, and that's Chewy. The ticker is CHWY. It's not Chuy's Restaurant, it's not the Mexican restaurant; although, I am from Texas and I love Chuy's. It's actually the largest pet e-commerce retailer in the United States. If you imagine Amazon, but solely focused on pets, that's what Chewy does.

And this is a company that I owned and loved prior to the pandemic. Clearly, it's gotten tailwinds because of not just the ease of online ordering for pet needs, but also the increase in demand for pet ownership that we've seen over the past few months, those are clear tailwinds. But this is a company that I think is so well managed. In fact, if you look at the way that they break out their customer retention metrics, this is what I love to see from a consumer goods company. They understand what their customer wants, they understand how the customer shops, and they know how to get that customer back time and time again.

The majority of what Chewy sells are what they call Autoship programs. So, pet owners, every single month, they get their litter -- their cat litter, in my case, I'm a cat owner [laughs] -- or their dog food, whatever it may be, they get it shipped to their house every single month. They engage with the customers on a personal level, and they retain those customers at much higher levels.

And then they also have their own private label. So, if you look at some of the best-selling dog food in the U.S., it's actually Chewy private label dog food. They beat out even Amazon private label in net sales. If you Google search dog food right now, I promise you Chewy links will pop up before Amazon links. I challenge you to do it.

I'm clearly a big fan of the company, I'll talk your ear off about them for an hour if you let me. So, I'll stop there other than to say I definitely think it's a company that everybody should be keeping their eye on.

Southwick: Okay. And how about maybe a stock to avoid or maybe one that you think might be a little bit of a trap?

Flippen: Yes. I think trap is a really good way to describe this company. And I'm throwing out this company by name, but I think it's representative of a lot of the companies in the consumer goods sector that are these cigar butts that people may find on the market, and it's actually Nordstrom. The ticker is JWN. And this isn't a company that I'd actively go out there and say short Nordstrom, I'm not trying to imply that at all, but I would avoid investing in companies like Nordstrom. Even before the pandemic, this was a company that was seeing a decline in year-over-year sales.

It's not that it's a bad business, it's just a good example of a retailer that really hasn't done a lot to adapt to the times. They tried to invest in their e-commerce operations, but they didn't invest before COVID, a lot of it's coming over the past few months. So, they're fighting an uphill battle on trying to get consumers in. And they actually had a decrease in digital sales in the most recent quarter despite the shift to COVID. Now, some of that was because of an anniversary sale they had going on, but that just goes to show a lack of stickiness in the consumers that are shopping online from Nordstrom.

And then, I think, maybe most indicative of the lack of adaptability in this company is Trunk Club. And you all know what Trunk Club is, right, maybe you've shopped from it, maybe not you, Alison, but maybe Bro?

Brokamp: I have heard of it.

Flippen: It's like Stitch Fix, but Nordstrom. And I think they were actually, maybe before Stitch Fix, I'm not confident in saying that, but they came up about the same time. It's essentially, you get the personal shopper that sends you clothes in a box from Nordstrom. It's full priced, so it's relatively expensive. But the idea was that you had a stylist coming out, picking these items for you. And they just had to continuously write down these investments, a loss leading part of their business. And ultimately, I think it's something that they're eventually just going to cut entirely.

It was their attempt at getting into e-commerce, it was their attempt at diversifying their business, but it never gained traction with a lot of customers. It was extremely expensive. And then it was undercut by the handful of other direct-to-consumer subscription services out there. So, it's not that Nordstrom is the worst consumer goods company, but I do think it's indicative of the challenges that a lot of these old retailers are facing competing in a new era. So, it's not one that I would be having on my watchlist. And it is one that I hear all the time thrown out there by investors as a potentially good "value play." In reality, I just want to see a more concerted effort for this company to adapt to the times, I'm just not seeing it right now.

Southwick: Yeah, I'm going to blame Bro and his pantslessness for the decline of Nordstroms and Trunk Clubs and other services that try to get men to dress up and wear clothes.

Brokamp: [laughs] I did see something on Twitter today, like, the huge drop-off in sport coats, and business casual slacks and things like that. I mean, just people don't need to buy those right now. Which I suppose could be -- right, I mean, if that drop-off is priced into those stocks, and then we all go back to work, maybe that would give a bump to some of those companies, but I don't know if that's sustainable over the long term.

Flippen: We actually saw Tailored Brands, which is the owner of Men's Wearhouse and a collection of other men's formalwear outlets, declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy during this pandemic because of a lack of demand for suits. But it's so funny, because while the pandemic has accelerated that, as you mentioned, if we're all not just not wearing pants, [laughs] but we're not wearing suits -- as we're taping right now, I'm wearing a dirty three-day old t-shirt, for instance. Not just that, but this is a company that was seeing a decline in sales, again, pre-pandemic. I think that shift away from more formalwear in the workplace, while not true for every workplace, certainly, for a lot of workplaces, it was happening before the pandemic. And I'll tell you one thing, you're going to be hard pressed to get me in a suit jacket when I get back to the office, [laughs] I'm just going to leave it there.

Southwick: [laughs] I mean, once you're wearing sweatpants, it's hard to go back ...

Flippen: Exactly. None of my jeans fit anymore.

Southwick: Yeah. I definitely have adopted an even more casual look, those who know me know that I was never one to dress up anyway, but I just tell myself I'm still dressing up, because I'll buy really expensive sweatpants from Lululemon, and I'll be like, well, these are my dress sweatpants. [laughs]

Flippen: [laughs] I love that.

Southwick: I can tell you who doesn't love it, it is my husband, but whatever. [laughs] Like, did you order more stuff from Lululemon? I'll be like, eh, maybe. Whatever, it's my money, I can do what I want with it.

All right. I think that's it. Emily, thank you so much for joining us.

Flippen: Hey! Thanks for having me. It's such a pleasure, I love covering the consumer goods space, and I appreciate being given the free reign to take this conversation, quite literally, anywhere and everywhere. So, as always, thank you for indulging me for the past 30 minutes or so.

Southwick: Oh, hardly, hardly at all. And our dear listeners can get more Emily and analysis of the consumer goods sector every Tuesday on Industry Focus. All right, Alison, what's your next trip? I guess you barely got Kilimanjaro under there. What's your next place you're headed?

Flippen: My next big trip will be probably ordering one of those butterball turkeys from some takeout place here in Maryland and then eating it all by myself while I sit alone on Thanksgiving. So, that's what I have planned for my next big trip. Maybe I'll Skype my family.

Brokamp: Zoomsgiving.

Flippen: Zoomsgiving, exactly.

Southwick: Yeah, Zoomsgiving. Living the dream. All right, Emily, thank you again for joining us. We'll have you back [...] I hope.

Flippen: [laughs] Definitely.

[...]

Southwick: Well, that's the show. Oh, you know what, let's have a disclaimer or whatever we call it.

As always, The Motley Fool may have recommendations for or against the stocks we talked about, don't buy and sell stocks based solely on what you heard on the show.

This show, which is edited business casual-lingly by Rick Engdahl. Our email is Answers@Fool.com. For Robert Brokamp, I'm Alison Southwick, stay Foolish everybody.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.