Posted by Dale Buss on November 20, 2012 06:03 PM
It's the holiday season already, but we're getting a late start on the whole peace and goodwill thing.
Peace? Don't look for it in millions of American homes on Thanksgiving afternoon as household members square off on whether they'll start hitting Target and other chains that are going to open that evening, or forswear what many see as one new intrusion too many on family traditions. Few retailers are as gutsy as Gander Mountain, the outdoor-retailing chain that is going the whole bird on Thanksgiving Day — open in many locations from 9 a.m. to midnight. However, as more bricks-and-mortar retailers invade the once-sacred time-space of Thanksigiving itself, preferring not to leave shopping on that day to the internet realm alone, they also are sparking more protests and regrets from rank-and-file Americans.
Goodwill? There won't be much of that in evidence at some Walmarts around the US on Friday, which is offering price-matching and a one-hour in-stock guarantee to shoppers — and the possibility of being short-staffed to handle the rush. Now that the chain seems to have gotten physical threats to doorbusters under control by preventing them from trampling one another, a new threat looms large: potential walkouts by workers and disruptions at about 1,000 stores across the country, caused by labor agitators who are organizing protests by as many members of Walmart's non-union workforce as they can.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 19, 2012 01:38 PM
As holiday season is now upon us, the two major U.S. shippers are gearing up as e-commerce and mobile access portend a healthy economic surge this week, through Grey Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and into full-fledged holiday shopping mania.
According to the National Retail Federation, overall holiday sales are expected to rise 4.1% compared to last year – a bellwether for the health of the economy, with electronic items, apparel, and luxury comprising a significant portion of total holiday shipping volumes.
Both UPS and FedEx have delivery contracts with most of the biggest e-tailers including Toys R Us, Kohl's, Walmart, Macy's, eBay and Amazon.
UPS (the brand formerly known as United Parcel Service) expects shipments to hit record levels up 10% from last year and plans to hire 55,000 seasonal workers, and estimates it will deliver 527 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, topping last year’s record of 480 million.
Their busiest day will be Dec. 20, with an estimated 28 million packages delivered, up from the regular 15.8 million packages daily.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 16, 2012 12:02 PM
The retail stampede is on, as early bird shoppers are being wooed this year to become pre-bird shoppers.
Whether Black Friday actually starts on Thanksgiving Thursday at 5:23 p.m., which is when eBay says it starts, or 9 p.m., which is when Target is opening its doors, doesn't really matter anymore. The fact is that America's biggest shopping day is getting a jump on itself, and there's no going back. Neither will retailers trying to get a jump on Black Friday by pre-positioning themselves with shoppers weeks ahead of time as they set their Black Friday plans.
Walmart already has released its Black Friday promotions online — buy now! — telling USA Today that it has bought so "deep" that it will have enough of some of the hottest electronics items — including iPad 2s — to satisfy shoppers who are sure to swarm their stores on Thanksgiving night while the day's slate of NFL games on TV is still playing itself out. Of course, retail workers are outraged, with charges of "pure greed" being bandied about, while at least one Walmart (in Bergen County, NJ) is being forced to close for two hours on Thanksgiving to give staffers a chance to gobble down some turkey.
Walmart and other bricks-and-mortar chains have been shifting more of their deals for Black Friday to the web for some time now. Staples plans to begin on Thanksgiving Day with some special mobile offers. The National Retail Federation projects that fewer Americans will brave physical stores this year than last year — but thanks to the deals and ease of shopping online, they'll spend more.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 12, 2012 03:54 PM
The challenges facing Groupon are mounting as the daily deals pioneer struggles to create a viable business model. As Reuters notes, interest by consumers and merchants in its daily-deal local offerings continues to wane, and it is far from clear that the Chicago-based startup can offset the decline in the bulwark of its original business model with other services that will generate enough business to keep it afloat.
Accordingly, Groupon's market capitalization has dropped to just $1.8 billion, down 90% from nearly $13 billion when its stock went public at $20 a share a year ago in the second-biggest US IPO since Google. Key executives and salespeople continue to jump ship, while it's also coping with controversy over its accounting methods.
Even though Groupon had more than 4.3 million customers last month, and "an annual run rate of nearly $1.5 billion in global billings and nearly $500 million in revenues shortly after its one-year anniversary in September," according to a company spokesperson, the now-apparent weakness in its business model means that imitators, such as the Amazon-backed LivingSocial, are having unprecedented problems.Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on November 12, 2012 12:10 PM
New York-based Gilt Groupe, the billion-dollar, members-only flash sales website, has just launched its first TV campaign. Two commercials (above and below) play up the Gilt brand of designer deal-shopping (in a cab, and in a gunfight that plays on Gilt's noon deal-posting) in time for holiday 2012. The Gilt campaign comes as Groupon, a rival deals website that relies on email to publicize a more general range of local daily deals, is struggling financially.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 6, 2012 03:29 PM
Heading into last year's year-end holiday selling season, Amazon flexed its muscles and felt some backlash when it provided an app that allowed consumers to find lower prices on any products they found at competing brick-and-mortar retailers. This year, Amazon is finding plenty of new ways to corral consumers as the holiday seasons looms ever closer. One marketing tactic sees the e-tail giant expanding its premium Amazon Prime program. For an extra $8 a month, consumers can get free 2-day shipping, monthly Kindle rentals, and a selection of unlimited streaming video.
And back on the muscle-flexing front, the company just won a legal battle against Apple and such publishers as Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins in Europe, which allows the online retailer to sell online books cheaper than its competitors. Another battle keeping its lawyers busy is for the .cloud domain name, which Amazon wants to secure — but so does Symantec, ARUBA S.p.A., CloudNames AS, and Dash Cedar, among others.
But don’t think Amazon has completely ditched the brick-and-mortar world. Staples, the largest U.S. office supply retailer, is planning to install Amazon-branded lockers in its stores that would allow consumers to have Amazon packages shipped to their stores for pick-up. Amazon already has similar deals with a few grocery, convenience, and drug stores, including at select D'Agostino, Gristede and Rite-Aid stores in New York.
Posted by Dale Buss on November 6, 2012 01:55 PM
The textbook case of entrepreneurial success that is Sara Blakely's Spanx shapewear brand has just written a new chapter: on Nov. 2nd, Spanx opened its first standalone retail store in the U.S., at the Tysons Corner Center in Maclean, Virginia, one of three stores opening this fall in addition to the brand's first airport boutique, at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. As the brand posted on its Facebook page, Blakely told USA Today that the opening made her feel "excited, nervous, emotional" as it made the leap into its own bricks-and-mortar retail channel.
Blakely's meteoric rise from inspired but inexperienced entrepreneur to one of the richest women in the world has been one of the most interesting stories in business over the last few years. She started out shilling her first invention — a modernized, footless hybrid of a girdle and panty hose — from a folding table in the foyer of a Neiman Marcus and would ship online orders in white Office Depot envelopes from her Atlanta apartment, as Forbes recounts.
The 41-year-old entrepreneur continued tirelessly promoting her brand to the point where, today, Spanx products are sold in more than 11,500 department stores, boutiques and online shops in 40 countries. As Forbes puts it, Spanx has become the "Kleenex" of the category Blakely invented, with revenues just shy of $250 million last year. And her success made Blakely the world's youngest self-made female billionaire.
Even so, Spanx never had operated its own stores, but it now has the cash and variety of products, including Spanx for men, swimwear and apparel, that the timing couldn't be better.Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 24, 2012 01:17 PM
Traditionally, Black Friday retail sales in the U.S., falling on the public day off that is the day after Thanksgiving, has been a bellweather for the holiday shopping season. But this year, retailers have been trying to preempt Black Friday in order to get a jump on holiday sales.
Target tried to literally move Christmas to July with its summertime "Bonus Black Friday" and "Summer Cyber Week" sales. Meanwhile, Amazon said it would turn Black Friday into a whole week of special deals beginning on Monday, November 19, the week of Thanksgiving. Walmart, on the other hand, may have something to fear, as employees threatened to blacken the chain's holiday sales with a possible Black Friday strike.
The good news for retailers is that consumers are apparently ready to shop. The majority of U.S. consumers, 51 percent, have already made their holiday shopping plans this year and will make purchases with money they have set aside specifically for the holidays, according to the just-released Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey.Continue reading...