Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Reading List

  • The Future of Retail: Blending the In-Store and Online Experience (BrandChannel)
  • Walmart and Amazon: clash of titans or future partners? (FT)
  • More Than Half of Americans Say Tax Hikes Have No Effect on Spending (US News & World Report)
  • Facebook Is Keeping Track of What You Buy at the Drugstore (The Atlantic Wire)
  • Nordstrom woos young women with lower prices (Seattle Times)
  • Beyond Showrooming: 3 Quirky Ways Smartphones Are Changing How We Shop (Time)
  • Infographic: What's the Best Time of Day to Send an Email? (Adweek)
  • How Shopper Tracking Is Creating A More Sophisticated Retail Experience (PSFK)
  • Seamless Skips Steep Fees in Battle for Mobile Payments (Bloomberg)
  • Best Buy Outlook Brightens, But Doubts Remain (NREI)
  • Storefront launches its pop-up marketplace to usher in the future of retail (PandoDaily)
  • 7 Ways Mobile Commerce Will Change Retail (Practical eCommerce)
  • The Next Leap in Social: 3D Printing (AdAge)
  • Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings of 2013's Best Brands (Harris Interactive)
  • Mobile Shopping Is Rapidly on the Rise with Affluent Shoppers (Unity Marketing)
  • Why retailers will be forced to reinvent themselves in the mobile age (The Drum)
  • Three Things GameStop Can Teach Retail Executives (Businessweek)
  • Mobile coupons edge out print as retailers switch strategy (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • If Shoppers Like Your Brand on Facebook, They'll Buy More (Inc.)
  • Google All but Officially Admits It Wants to Be Amazon (Wired)

Survey director Richard Curtin said "consumers have discounted the administration's warning that economic catastrophe would follow the reductions in federal spending, and consumers have renewed their expectation that gains in employment will accelerate through the rest of 2013."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday's Top Retail & Consumer Reads

  • Why Local Search Is Important For Retail...And Why It's A Mess (Business Insider)
  • Amazon’s head of mobile talks app design, shopping habits and impulse buys (MIT Technology Review)
  • Consumer Using Phones to Bank, but Not Buy (WSJ)
  • Macy’s Rethinks Distinction between Clicks and Bricks (CoStar Group)
  • 4 Ways Retail Stores Are Monitoring Your Every Move (Consumerist)
  • Wal-Mart's radical plan to have customers to deliver packages to online buyers (Chicago Tribune) and Wal-Mart eCommerce, the largest startup in the world, is arming itself for fierce retail battles (GigaOM) and Why Walmart Wishes It Were a Startup (Wired)
  • Military shopping gets some private-sector upgrades (Dallas News)
  • Landlords are finding it easy to fill empty big boxes (SCT)
  • Inside The Curious Bricks-And-Mortar Store For Legal Advice, Books, Tablets (FastCo)
  • Load times for top retail sites slump 22% in the past year (Econsultancy)
  • Luxury brands see customization of fashion pieces as the next value-add for customers (National Post)
  • Canadian Launch Shows How Target Lures in Shoppers (The Globe and Mail)
  • Is the Weather Masking Deeper Obstacles for the Retail Industry? (Fox Business)
  • Why we needn’t worry about Amazon’s fashion malfunction (PandoDaily)
  • Why Brick and Mortar Retail Matters (Forbes)
  • Elle' Invites Readers to Shop Net-a-Porter On-Site (Mashable)
  • As Wages Rise, Employers Consider Replacing Workers With Technology (WSJ)
  • Google launches same-day delivery in San Francisco Bay Area (Yahoo! Finance)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mid-Week Reading List

  • Walmart Follows Amazon’s Lead, Starts Testing Locker Delivery In Retail Stores (TechCrunch) and Wal-Mart Targets Web Sales With Lockers, Mobile App Technology (Bloomberg) and Wal-Mart steps up its online game with help from stores (Reuters)
  • Retail brick and mortar may not die completely, but it’s dying as we know it (PandoDaily)
  • The Top 6 Highest Rated Retail CEO's (RISNews)
  • Three Brands That Used Data to Transform Their Media Strategies (Adweek)
  • Mall Landlords Get a Penney for Thoughts (WSJ)
  • Startup lets boutiques in on the online sales game (San Francisco Business Times)
  • Yes, Personal Service At Retail Is Worth It - Again (Forbes)
  • Coupon Use Plummets as Marketers Tighten Belts (CNBC)
  • Parents Upset Over Victoria's Secret Marketing to 12-Year Old Girls (HuffPost)
  • Understanding the Stages of the Retail Purchase Process (HBR)
  • Using Tech To Provide Shoppers With Better In-Store Experience (PSFK)
  • J.C. Penney revives 'mark-up to mark-down' tactic to boost sales (Reuters)
  • Consumers Trust Brand Recommendations From Friends Over Reviews & Ads (Mashable)

Consumers Trust Brand Recommendations From Friends Over Reviews & Ads (Mashable)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Retail News & Notes

Tuesday Retail & Consumer Reading List:
  • Naughty in Name Only: Nasty Gal is Fastest Growing Retailer You've Never Heard Of (NY Times)
  • How next-generation apps will market your brainwaves (Slate)
  • Store Charges Customers $5 'Just Looking' Fee To Combat Showrooming (Business Insider)
  • Joe Fresh Boosts J.C. Penney...But Will It Last? (Knowledge@Wharton)
  • Consumers Will Keep Spending as U.S. Hurdles Fade (Bloomberg)
  • Sears rolls out the 'Fulfilled by Sears' program for other retailers (Internet Retailer)
  • The New Big Box Investment Criteria: What Real Estate Investors Need to Know About Multichannel Retail (NREI)
  • New Balance 3D prints the perfect shoe for athletes (SmartPlanet)
  • Early Adopter Millennials Leading in Mobile Device Adoption (MarketingProfs)
  • The Trader Joe's Lesson: How to Pay a Living Wage and Still Make Money in Retail (The Atlantic)
  • Video: Uniqlo Aims for World Domination (CBS News)
  • PayPal leads the pack for mobile wallet awareness (Mobile Commerce Daily) and Wall Street worries about PayPal's offline expansion (Reuters)
  • Customers Flee Wal-Mart Empty Shelves for Target, Costco (Businessweek)
  • The Best Sales Associate for a Retail Brand? Educated... Not Trained (Forbes)

Tuesday Retail & Consumer Roundup:
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined sharply in March to 59.7, down 12.2% from February and 14.1% below the year-ago level. The Present Situation Index dropped 5.7% from the prior month but still sits 16.0% above last March, while the Expectations Index declined 15.9% from February and is a hefty 26.2% below last year.
Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said "Consumer Confidence fell sharply in March, following February’s uptick. This month’s retreat was driven primarily by a sharp decline in expectations, although consumers were also more pessimistic in their assessment of current conditions. The loss of confidence, particularly expectations, mirrors the losses experienced this past December and January. The recent sequester has created uncertainty regarding the economic outlook and as a result, consumers are less confident."

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported that chain store sales fell 1.7% for the week ending Mar 23rd compared to the prior week, while year-on-year sales grew only 1.0%, which was the weakest showing in more than 3 years.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Monday Morning Retail Briefing

Economic & Retailer Earnings Calendar for the Week of 3/25 - 3/29

Retail & Consumer Reads to Start Your Week
  • The Era Of Tax-Free E-Commerce Might Be Nearing The End (Star Tribune)
  • Kate Spade Is A Brand Ready To Boom Around The World (Forbes)
  • Is There a Fashion-Tech Bubble? (The Business of Fashion)
  • Why Shopping Cart Abandonment Might Be Misleading (1to1 Media)
  • US malls empty CMBS investors’ wallets (FT)
  • Video: How eBay Delivers Local Goods in Only an Hour (Bloomberg) and EBay Could Steal Amazon's Most Important Customers - They Aren't Who You Think (Wired)
  • Mobile coupons enter grocery aisles (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • From Private to Public: What Retailers Should Expect From an IPO (NREI)
  • Empty Shelves as Canadians Camp Out For Target (WSJ)
  • Mixing bricks with clicks: Some online retailers are venturing onto the high street (The Economist)
  • Rakuten: The biggest e-commerce site you've never heard of (Fortune)
  • Reinventing and Preserving the In-Store Experience (brandchannel) and Local Retail Won’t Disappear: Mobile Will Transform the In-Store Experience (Street Fight)
  • "Buzz" vs. sentiment: Word of mouth’s most important distinction (Bazaarvoice)
  • The 'Etsy Economy' and Changing the Way We Shop (Entrepreneur)
  • Higher retail salaries boost bottom line (UPI)
  • Five Factors Reshaping E-Commerce (Forbes)

Monday's Retail Quick Fact
Though it seems the big 3 U.S. drug store retailers have a location on every corner, the 3 largest dollar store chains have maintained their lead in overall locations over the past 10 years by collectively opening an average of 37 new stores every 2 weeks.

Easter 2013 Spending by the Numbers

Based on the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2013 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, the average consumer is expected to spend $145.13 on everything from candy to clothes this Easter, down slightly from last year following successive years of double-digit increases.
“With a plethora of budgetary concerns already on their plates, Americans this Easter will look for special, creative ways to celebrate the holiday without breaking the bank,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “And as spring weather rolls in, consumers will find affordable ways to spruce up their homes and wardrobes, just in time for visiting family and friends this Easter holiday. Retailers are already lining their shelves with specials on chocolates, warm-weather apparel and even gardening tools and outdoor furniture.”
Overall spending is expected to rise for the third straight year to $17.2 billion, up just 2.7% over 2012 but 35% higher than recession-era levels from 2009, with nearly 45% of total spending expected to come from sales of food and candy. The NRF estimates Easter is the 5th-biggest spending holiday behind Christmas, Back-to-School and just slightly smaller than Valentine’s and Mother's Day.

63.4% of shoppers said they will be heading to discount stores for Easter wares, making it the most popular destination, followed by department stores (40.7%) and specialty stores (24.9%) including greeting card & gift stores, florists, jewelry and electronics stores.

21.1% of American will head online to do their Easter shopping, compared to 18.7% in 2012 and just 11.4% in 2009, and web shoppers are expected to spend an average of $237.64, or 63% more than the overall Easter shopper according to

Mobile devices will have a significant impact on purchases, both online and in-store – 58.6% of survey respondents own smart-phones and 34.7% own tablets. About half of smartphone and tablet owners plan on using their devices to research/compare prices, purchase products, look up retailer information and use apps to research and purchase products.

In terms of demographics, the average male shopper ($156.81) will out-spend women ($134.09) across every category; those making more than $50k ($171.25) will spend significantly more in each category and overall than those making less than $50k ($118.07); and shoppers aged 25-34 ($172.72) and 35-44 ($176.84) will be the top spenders.

Food is the top category as 86.9% shoppers plan to spend on meals ($45.26) and sales are expected to reach $5.363 billion, while 90.5% of Americans will buy candy this Easter, spending an average of $20.66. With expected sales of $2.448 billion, the National Confectioners Association says Easter is the second top-selling confectionery holiday behind only Halloween.

The NPD Group estimates that 207 million Americans, including nearly 60 million children, celebrate Easter, with 58% of adults buying Easter candy. The research firm notes that the majority of adults (60%) don't being shopping until a week before the holiday, so there is still ample time for marketers to grab a share of the multi-billion dollar spending spree.
“The Easter holiday is a time for family — immediate and extended — which enables food manufacturers and retailers to connect with consumers via family imagery and themes,” says Darren Seifer, food & beverage industry analyst. “Creating marketing and merchandising plans that inspire earlier interest, activities, and even gifting will lead to added excitement around the holiday and greater spending.”
While shoppers won’t necessarily splurge on flowers ($9.49 average/$1.124 billion total) and greeting cards ($6.74 average/$799 million total): The Society of American Florists estimates the Easter/Passover period accounts for 13% of Holiday transactions and 10% of dollar volume, the fourth highest behind Christmas/Chanukah, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, while Hallmark reports Americans send 57 million greeting cards for Easter, fifth most on the holiday calendar.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Reading List

  • The cash register's days are numbered as sales staff, shoppers checkout on phones and tablets (Washington Post) and Ka Ching! Tracing the roots of the iconic cash register (Star Tribune)
  • Winning in E-Commerce With Hipsteresque Whimsy (Businessweek)
  • Are Consumers Getting Tired of Fast Fashion? (Time)
  • 16 Brands That Have Fanatical Cult Followings (Business Insider)
  • The Economic Case for Paying Cashiers $40K a Year (The Atlantic Cities)
  • How Gap Activated Its SXSW Presence (Convince & Convert)
  • The Trend Continues...Small Retailers Outpacing Overall Retail Sales Growth (MasterCard Advisors)
  • Shoppers’ ‘Mobile Blinders’ Force Checkout-Aisle Changes (Bloomberg)
  • The Only Problem With the Greatest Hoodie Ever Made: They can’t make them fast enough (Slate)
  • Consumers Still Don't Trust Social Media Marketing (TechCrunch)
  • Meet Alibaba, the trailblazing Chinese internet giant and world's greatest bazaar (The Economist)
  • Partnerships Provide The "Muscle" In The Mobile Payments War (FastCo)
  • Wall Street wears the pants at Sears and J.C. Penney (CNN Money)
  • Online Reviews Influence Shoppers Most, but Print Catalogs Trump Social Networks (MarketingProfs)

Online Reviews Influence Shoppers Most, but Print Catalogs Trump Social Networks (MarketingProfs)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday Retail & Consumer Reads

Today's Must Read: The Big Flaw in 'Omnichannel' Retailing (Internet Retailer):

Retail execs struggle to "explain what omnichannel merchandising means and how it differs from the now discredited multichannel strategy from which it emerged" and "whether omnichannel strategies are really effective in helping the retail chains compete in the e-commerce space."
There is little doubt that a good web site helps bolster a chain’s total retail sales, but how much faster would those chains be growing if they tried a dual-path strategy, one that treated their web site as a stand-alone business managed separately from the store by a CEO and management team focused totally on maximizing web sales? The chains would still integrate the web site into the store shopping experience as they do now, but the web store would focus on meeting the needs of the web-centric shopper, using the store’s brand for greater exposure.
This strategy would allow the chains to optimize the opportunity they have with the web channel and compete more effectively with web-only merchants who as a group run rings around store-controlled web sites. This dual-path strategy would also respond to the undeniable financial reality of retailing in the Internet age. Shoppers in general are becoming more dependent on and attuned to the web and less dependent on and attuned to store retailing.

 Thursday' Other Top Retail & Consumer Reads:
  • Americans Cut Restaurant Spending as Taxes Bite (Bloomberg)
  • Is Tweet-to-Buy The Next Big Thing in Social Commerce? (U.S.News & World Report)
  • 3-D printing is revolutionizing product development (USA Today)
  • The Future of Advertising is Local and Mobile (Inc.)
  • Walmart adds iPhone scan-and-checkout feature to more markets (Reuters) and To Beat Amazon, Walmart Is Treating Its Stores Like Apps (Wired)
  • Affluent women control 68% of household purchases (Luxury Daily)
  • The Container Store Considers an IPO (WSJ)
  • New analytics platform lets retailers test practically any marketing strategy (VentureBeat)
  • How Big Data Will Save the Physical Store (Cisco)
  • Convenience Stores Favor Social Media Over Other Digital Platforms (CSNews)
  • Turning Stores into REITs is No Easy Feat (NREI)
  • Chirpify Launches In-Stream Commerce For Facebook (PSFK)
  • 3 Ways E-Tailers Need to Innovate Like In-Store (POPAI)
  • 15 Hot Brands Vying To Be The Next Lululemon (Business Insider)
  • Click-to-call: The real engine behind mobile commerce (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • For Grocers, After Years of Shunning Internet, Digital Starts to Click (AdAge)
  • American Eagle Outfitters Trolls the Internet With 'Skinny Skinny' Jeans Ad (Mashable)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mid-Week Reading List

  • How Brands Are Getting Creative with Data (AdAge)
  • Home Depot, Lowe's Benefit as the Remodeling Wave Returns (Businessweek)
  • E-Commerce Lessons From The Early Days Of "Virtual Shopping Malls" (FastCo)
  • Cities are hungrier than ever for retail development (SCT)
  • The revolutionary tech-driven store concept for men (Seattle Times)
  • What You Can Learn About Online Shoppers by Watching Them (AllThingsD)
  • Sam’s Club and Amazon Earn Top Honors in Retail Industry for Customer Experience (Temkins Group)
  • Bringing the online experience inside the physical store (The Guardian)
  • The Great Lululemon Panic: It's Not Just About the See-Through Pants (The Atlantic) and The fiercely loyal fans of Lululemon (USA Today)
  • Study Shows Uptick in Consumers Trying New Retailers (Market Force Information)
  • Menard's is the Bigger Big Box Store (Time)
  • Fashion brands should swap ads for tech-driven customer engagement (Wired)
  • When Mom and Pops Battled Five and Dimes (Bloomberg)

Study Shows Uptick in Consumers Trying New Retailers (Market Force Information)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

20 Reads for Tuesday

  • Internet Connected Devices Surpass Half a Billion in U.S. Homes as Tablet Penetration Surges (NPD Group)
  • Kate Spade Reinvents Retail As A Lean Startup (FastCo Design)
  • The Best Retail Brands of 2013 (InterBrand)
  • E-Retailers Now Accounting for Nearly Half of Book Purchases by Volume, Overtake Physical Retail (Digital Book World)
  • Amazon Prime: Bigger, More Powerful, More Profitable than Anyone Imagined (Time)
  • The 100 Best Retailers to Work For in 2012 (The Retail Life)
  • New Survey Reveals Shifting Consumer Views on Email Marketing (BlueHornet)
  • The Turnaround Trap: Why Ron Johnson Is Struggling at J. C. Penney (The New Yorker) and Is creating a REIT a viable solution for a struggling JC Penney? (Bloomberg)
  • For Mobile Devices, Think Apps, Not Ads (HBR)
  • Americans Will Spend $17.2 Billion For Easter This Year (NRF)
  • Lululemon’s hurdle: Handling all those customers (The Globe and Mail) and Lululemon Has A See-Through Yoga Pants Problem (WSJ)
  • Convenience has the upper hand over price in mobile retail (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • Faster Than Overnight: How Etailers Get You Stuff the Same Day You Ordered It (Wired)
  • The Evolving Landscape of the U.S. Fresh Foods Market (Nielsen)
  • The Ultra-Modern Store That Gives E-Commerce A Whole New Dimension (Business Insider)
  • The Future Shopper: How changing shopper attitudes and technology are re-shaping retail (The Futures Company)
  • Amazon's sellers unhappy about fee hikes, eye rivals (Reuters)
  • Can mobile coupons influence how people shop? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Monday, March 18, 2013

The 10 Largest U.S. Retailers, Then and Now

Monday Morning Retail Briefing

Economic & Retailer Earnings Calendar for the Week of 3/18 - 3/22

Retail & Consumer Reads to Start Your Week
  • Microsoft Goes To The Mall With Kinect Features For Wall-Sized Displays (ReadWrite)
  • The Long Journey of Blue Jeans (Vice)
  • Aeropostale Seen as Attractive Target for Buyout Firms (Bloomberg)
  • Digital Coupons on Retailer Websites Increased 50% in 2012 (Kantar Media)
  • How to Beat Amazon: Best Buy Edition (WSJ)
  • Store wars: Retail landlords battle for high-end tenants in Canada (The Globe and Mail)
  • H&M Has Plans To Dominate U.S Retail Market (StyleBlazer)
  • The Best New Platforms for Social-Savvy Brands (Mashable)
  • The Purchase-to-Ad Data Trail: From Your Wallet to the World (AdAge)
  • Polaroid develops new Fotobar stores (SCT)
  • Private Equity’s $36 Billion Retail Bet Not Going So Well (Businessweek)
  • Mobility Is Reshaping Consumer Gadget Spending and Behavior (Gartner)
  • European malls must move beyond shopping to survive in Internet era (Reuters)
  • Groupon Goods quietly makes its move, expects sales of $2 billion in 2013 (Internet Retailer)
  • Mobile Shopping Catches on with Affluent Consumers (eMarketer)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Reading List

  • How Google Glasses, Indoor Location, & Mobile Shopping Can Save Retail (Xconomy)
  • Filling in the Strip Mall: Small Stores Make a Comeback (IBISWorld)
  • Thrillist CEO says 45% of revenue now comes from iPhone app (VentureBeat)
  • How Interactive Displays Are Helping Customers Buy Smarter (PSFK)
  • A new style of selling menswear (The Globe and Mail)
  • Google Shopping Bests Amazon at its Own Game (Search Engine Journal)
  • Consumer sentiment tumbled in March on fiscal policy concerns (Reuters)
  • How Trader Joe’s Lures Shoppers With Quirky Products and Brands (Robin Report)
  • Advertisers Go Beyond Blogging With Branded Magazines (ClickZ)
  • This Is Joe Fresh, The Brand That May Be JCPenney's Final Lifeline (Business Insider) and J.C. Penney to Challenge Zara and Uniqlo With Joe Fresh Shops (The Business of Fashion)
  • Millennials & Money: A Look at How Young People Shop and Spend in America (Entrepreneur)
  • FreshDirect vs Peapod: New York's Online Food Fight (Businessweek)
  • Showing Off Shopping Sprees, Fashion 'Haulers' Cash In Online (NPR)

Millennials & Money: A Look at How Young People Shop and Spend in America (Entrepreneur)

10 Years of Growth in US Retail Sales, Employment and Productivity

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday Retail & Consumer Reads

  • Five reasons the payroll tax hike won’t kill US consumers (Quartz)
  • J.C. Penney Hopes to Reverse 'Huge Miss' With Core Customer (Businessweek)
  • Retailers Diverting More Real Estate Dollars to IT in Omni-Channel Push (CoStar Group)
  • Channel Blurring: Is it a supermarket or a convenience store? (Convenience Store News)
  • Understanding How Mobile Search Drives Conversions (Think with Google)
  • The Future Of E-Commerce For Small Retailers (Forbes)
  • Can Harry's Do For Shaving What Warby Parker Did For Eyeglasses? (FastCo)
  • Customer-Centric Marketing Drives Buyer Readiness and Purchases (MyBuys)
  • New technology and increased engagement is the future of teen retail (Business Insider)
  • The Slow and Painful Improvement of Shopping Center Fundamentals (NREI)
  • Two-thirds of global web users buy online monthly (Internet Retailer)
  • Why Amazon Prime Could Soon Cost You Next to Nothing (Wired)
  • Consumers Visit Retailers, Then Go Online for Cheaper Sources (Adweek)
  • Drugstores see growth potential in upscale services (LA Times)
  • How Benjamin Franklin Invented the Mail-Order Business (Bloomberg)
  • NFC Launches Into 140 Malls To Give Shoppers Brand-Specific Content (Mobile Commerce Daily)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mid-Week Reading List

  • Retail Imports To Increase 2.3% In March Despite ‘Sequestration’ Delays At Ports (NRF)
  • How Curebit Predicts E-Commerce Startup Success (TechCrunch)
  • Video Imagines Shopping With Google Glass (Mashable)
  • U.S. Expansion Remains a Top Growth Strategy for Retailers (BDO)
  • Many people curb spending in two-speed economy (Reuters)
  • The Genius of Apple’s Store Patents: What if we considered our stores as products? (Chain Store Age)
  • The brands using social media most effectively to target consumers (Forbes)
  • Retailer Sues Visa Over $13 Million ‘Fine’ for Being Hacked (Wired)
  • Retailer enthusiasm for mobile payments tempered by power struggles in industry (Luxury Daily)
  • Why The Competition Should Be Terrified Of Forever 21 (Business Insider)
  • Retail Concept Doubles As Art Space And Nightclub (PSFK)
  • Best Buy’s triumphs and RadioShack’s troubles (MarketWatch)
  • For Moms, Mobile Is Part of the Shopping Routine (eMarketer)
  • Kate Spade to use iPads as retail signage (CNET)
  • Top Retail IT Trends of 2013 and Beyond (Kurt Salmon)
  • Video: How Warby Parker found the right prescription for success (WSJ)
  • The biggest problem with same-day shipping: It’s not fast enough (VentureBeat) and Online Shoppers Say Same-Day Shipping Isn't That Big a Deal (Time)
  • Amazon Has About 10 Million Prime Members (AllThingsD)
  • U.S. Online Retail Sales to Hit $370 Billion by 2017 (Mashable)
  • Costco gains market share as it continues to dominate rivals (Reuters)

U.S. Retail Sales Post 4th Straight Gain in February

Retail sales in the U.S. rose for the fourth consecutive month in February, posting the largest gain since September. An improving job and housing market and rising stock prices have helped cushion the blow from higher payroll taxes, gas prices and delayed tax refunds.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services sales for February increased 1.1% over the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $421.4 billion, while sales increased 4.6% compared to the year-ago period. Year-over-year, this was the 40th straight monthly gain.

Total sales excluding Autos were up 3.9% compared to last February and rose 1.0% from the prior month, while total sales less Autos and Gas Stations showed a 4.0% year-on-year increase and were up 0.4% from January.

8 of 13 sectors posted growth over the prior month, led by strong sales at Gas Stations (+5.0% MoM / +3.6% YoY), Auto & Parts Dealers (+1.1% MoM / +7.8% YoY) and Building Materials Stores (+1.1% MoM / +4.5% YoY). However, weakness in more discretionary categories, especially at Restaurants (-0.7% MoM / +4.0% YoY), show consumers are being cautious with their spending.

Walmart's CFO said yesterday that volume is running about a third lower than normal due to delayed tax refunds. This echoes comments from numerous retail executives regarding the negative effects higher taxes and gas prices have had on discretionary spending. 

As tax refunds start to trickle in, and with some relief with lower prices at the pump over the past few weeks, we should see a return to more normal spending levels as we head into peak spring selling season.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

20 Tuesday Retail & Consumer Reads

  • Cleanup in Aisle 3: How Retailers Will Avoid Slipups in the Digital Age (AllThingsD)
  • Target puts boutique in-store shops on hiatus (Star Tribune)
  • The Store Strikes Back: Why Omnichannel Retailers Should Win Over Pure-Play Competitors (Kurt Salmon)
  • Americans Deal With Payroll-Tax Boost to Keep Spending (Bloomberg)
  • The Customer Profile: Your Brand's Secret Weapon (HBR)
  • Why closing stores may increase  retailer’s value (ScienceBlog)
  • Bonobos opens stores that don't sell anything (USA Today)
  • High-tech software for retailers discreetly tracks customers (CNET)
  • Shapewear giant Spanx transitions to bricks-and-mortar stores (STORES)
  • Water Drowns Soda as America's Favorite Beverage (AP)
  • Why the idea that consumers will pay a premium for "made in America" is hogwash (Robin Report)
  • Rent the Runway Raises Another $24.4 Million (The Business of Fashion)
  • It's Adapt-or-Die Time for Daily Deals Firms (Adweek)
  • The History of Personalisation in Retail (Econsultancy)
  • Adidas Vowing to Outrun Nike in U.S. With Bouncier Shoes (Businessweek)
  • E-tailers open their first brick-and-mortar shops (Shopping Centers Today)
  • The Future of Fashion: Download File and Print (Forbes)
  • Video: How the quest for a better T-shirt led to an Under Armour empire (NBC News)
  • Steve Jobs Had It Wrong: Why You Should Look To Consumers For Product Innovation (FastCo Create)
  • Supermarket Chain Fairway Group Plans $200 Million April IPO (Bloomberg)

Tuesday Retail Roundup

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported that chain store sales rose 0.7% for the week ending Mar 9th compared to the prior week, while year-on-year growth remained steady at 1.8%.

According to the ICSC-GS consumer tracking survey, business strengthened appreciably at grocery stores and apparel‐specialty stores had a moderate gain, but discounters’ business was markedly softer over the last week.
"The fiscal month of March began on a mixed note with steady results on a year-over-year basis and a solid increase over the prior week," said Michael Niemira, ICSC's vice president of research and chief economist.  "The mixed performance was tied to uneven underlying demand - stronger grocery and apparel stores business, but weaker discount business - and another bout of adverse weather in the Midwest."
Weather Trends International (WTI) said the average nationwide temperature was 4.0°F colder than last year and 2.2°F colder than its long‐term trend, as much of the country was lashed with winter storms, but noted that Easter apparel demand should benefit from milder weather as March rolls on.

Redbook Research said same-store sales rose 2.7% in the first week of March following a 2.2% gain the prior week. Relative to the first week of February, sales rose 0.6%.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Morning Retail Briefing

Economic & Retailer Earnings Calendar for the Week of 3/11 - 3/14

Retail & Consumer Reads to Start Your Week
  • The Death of the American Mall and the Rebirth of Public Space (The International)
  • Best Buy counts on appliances for sales revival (Star Tribune) and Best Buy VP On Why He Thinks The Company Can Still Compete (Consumerist)
  • Black Consumers Among Most Engaged Mobile Users (Prosper Insights & Analytics)
  • Lululemon's Christine Day: In sweaty pursuit of innovation (The Globe and Mail)
  • The Department Store Is Watching You (The Atlantic Wire)
  • Jifiti Lets You Teleport Products To Your Friends (TechCrunch)
  • Retail Sales in U.S. Probably Advanced in February for 4th Straight Month (Bloomberg)
  • Ron Johnson’s Genius Plan Has Transformed JCPenney Into A Frankenstein-Like Monster (Fox Business)
  • Infographic: How Video Drives Consumers to Purchase (GetElastic)
  • Sycamore Partners Turns Heads With Its Retail Shopping Spree (DealBook)
  • At SXSW: Why Mobile Is the Future of Retail (Publishers Weekly)
  • Retailer Hot Mama Eyes Rapid Expansion (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)
  • Last call for Neiman Marcus's eBay store (Reuters)
  • Anthropology Inc.: How companies use social scientists to probe the deepest needs, fears, and desires of consumers (The Atlantic)
  • The Headache in Housewares for J.C. Penney (NY Times)
  • Online Retailers Move Past Discounts to Earn Deeper Customer Loyalty (eMarketer)

Monday's Retail Quick Fact:
Under Armour grew revenues from just $49.6 million in 2002 to $1.835 billion in 2012, for an unbelievable 10-yr compound annual growth rate of 43.5%.

Since opening its first branded retail store in late 2004, the company has expanded its store presence to 109 locations in the U.S., Canada and China at the end of 2012. Sales per square foot reached $782 in 2012, and direct-to-consumer (retail store and e-commerce) sales represented 29.0% of total revenue, up from just 10.7% in 2007.

Friday, March 8, 2013

By The Numbers: St. Patrick's Day Consumer Spending

Friday Retail & Consumer Reads

  • Can't Buy Me Like: Why Companies Have To Romance The Same Consumers They Once Bought (FastCo)
  • Costco's Unorthodox Strategy To Survive The Big Box Apocalypse (Business Insider)
  • Store Closure Strategies Still Overshadowing Expansion Campaigns (CoStar Group)
  • Louis Vuitton and the Apple Store (PandoDaily)
  • A Look at the Tween Market & Shopping Behavior (POPAI)
  • Etsy Partners With Nordstrom, West Elm: More Mall Stores In Store? (Forbes)
  • Fashion trucks bring style to you (CNN)
  • Pink slips are high fashion at JCPenney (NY Post)
  • Tracking the evolution of the modern retail organization (
  • Food for Thought: Why Auntie Anne's Pretzels Failed in China (Knowledge@Wharton)
  • Improving customers’ retail experience essential to creating a successful mobile payments scheme (SAP)
  • Changing marketing tactics in the quest for 'mansumers' (STORES)
  • How OpenSky is Making Shopping Social Again (Business Insider)
  • How Consumers Use and Value Online and Social Media During Purchases (Radius GMR)
  • Walgreens plans U.S.'s first net zero energy store (ICSC)
  • New robots in the workplace: Job creators or job terminators? (Washington Post)
  • What Would Be the Fallout of J.C. Penney Store Closings for the CMBS Market? (Retail Traffic)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

February Same-Store Sales Roundup

As the graphic below shows, monthly same-store sales just ain't what they used to be. In July 2004, there were 77 retailers that reported monthly sales, representing about 66% of GAFO (General Merchandise, Apparel & Accessories, Furniture and Other – Office Supplies, Stationary & Gifts) store sales.

After 7 more companies discontinued reporting monthly sales after January - Bon-Ton, Kohl's, Macy, Nordstrom, Stage Stores, Target and Wet Seal - there are only 13 companies left that continue to report monthly figures, representing roughly 20% of GAFO sales, with 3 chains - Costco, Rite Aid and Walgreen - accounting for more than three quarters of total reported February sales.

Back in mid-2011 we discussed in detail why we believe this trend is unfortunate for both companies and shareholders. With that being said, let's get on with the roundup of what's left of retailer's monthly reports.

Total net sales for the 13 chains we track increased 3.4% from a year ago to $20.5 billion in February, while same-store sales rose 1.9% compared to a 3.4% gain last year. Excluding drug stores, total sales in increased 8.0% and same-store sales rose 4.1% on top of a 7.7% gain in the year-ago period.

Results were mixed in what is typically the second-lightest month in terms of volume behind January. The effects of higher payroll taxes and gas prices, delayed tax returns and severe winter storms all were mentioned as dampening sales. Business should pick up in mid-March as spring breaks kick off - as usual, March and April results will be affected by the Easter shift, so the combined 2-month period will be the best barometer of performance.

Thursday's Big Reading List

  • The national obsession with health & fitness is altering the landscape of shopping centers and strip malls (USA Today)
  • Apple and Beats by Dre Talk Potential Music Streaming Partnership (Huffington Post)
  • Consumers to Spend $4.7 Billion on St. Patrick's Day This Year (NRF)
  • Study shows how mobile is changing consumer-buying behavior (InMobi)
  • AdAge Three-fer: Thrillist Media Tries to Solve the Content + Commerce Puzzle (AdAge) and Guess Who's Planning to Spend Big in Mobile? CPG Advertisers (AdAge) and Topshop Raises Digital Bar in Fashion World (AdAge)
  • Why Walmart Is Betting Big On Small Stores (Forbes)
  • How $200k in Facebook ads becomes $10 million in e-commerce sales (Internet Retailer)
  • Best Buy: What's Next After Collapse Of Leveraged Buyout? (ReadWrite)
  • How to Earn Loyal, Repeat E-Commerce Customers (Practical eCommerce)
  • Tablets trump smartphones in global website traffic (Adobe)
  • Rejecting industry dogma, Costco backs calls to lift minimum wage (LA Times)
  • The 2013 Digital Influence Report (Technorati)
  • Sycamore Partners to Acquire Hot Topic for $600 Million (AP)
  • Yuppies Might Be the Only Market for Same-Day Delivery (Wired)
  • Walmart’s Hire-a-Vet Program: Patriotic Gesture? Or Good for Walmart? (Robin Report)
  • Retail Executives Betting More Heavily on Big Data (The Globe and Mail)
  • Are consumers sensitive to how much companies listen and respond to them online? (eMarketer)
  • The Real Reason Women Shop More Than Men (Forbes)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mid-Week Retail News & Notes

  • Wal-Mart Says Its Smaller Stores Make Inroads (WSJ)
  • Price beats speed for online shoppers (Internet Retailer) and Three Ways Same-Day Delivery Will Change Retail (AdAge)
  • Zappos' Secrets to Building an Empowering Company Culture (Entrepreneur)
  • Personalized Marketing Drives Buyer Readiness and Sales (MarketingProfs)
  • Why eBay Redesigned To Look More Like Pinterest (FastCo Design)
  • Clothing Companies Try to Find More Direct Paths to Customers (NY Times)
  • Amazon Fashion Debuts First TV Commercial (Mashable)
  • What J.C. Penney's Ron Johnson must do now (Fortune) and The Ron Johnson Disaster Timeline: How The Apple Guru Humbled JCPenney (Business Insider)
  • Data-Driven Comparison Shopping Platform FindTheBest Raises $11 Million (TechCrunch)
  • RadioShack and Adidas Find Store Locators Ring Up Sales (ClickZ)
  • America’s Favorite Fashion Retailers (Market Force Information)
  • Google tests same-day delivery, raising marketplace speculation (Reuters) and Google’s Foray Into Home Delivery Is a Sideshow in the Real War With Amazon (Wired)

The latest commentary from retail executives show the major focus in 2013 is omni-channel integration - here is a handful of examples:

Karen Hoguet, CFO - Macy's - Q4 Earnings Conference Call:
"In the fourth quarter, we saw the beginning of the enormous opportunity in front of us from approaching our business from an omni-channel perspective. We are working to provide our customers with seamless experiences no matter how they choose to shop with us and to utilize the strengths of each channel to satisfy demand and service the customers' needs better than we could if we didn't operate multiple channels."
Gregg Steinhafel - CEO - Target - Q4 Earnings Conference Call:
"Our investments in the website and mobile technology drive guest engagement with Target,

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday Reading List

  • Target gives peek at first Canadian stores in expansion push (Reuters)
  • PC Market Forecast to Decline for a Second Consecutive Year in 2013 (IDC)
  • IBM app marries augmented reality, comparison shopping (CNET)
  • A Tale of Two Consumers: Wealthier U.S. Households Carry the Spending Load (WSJ)
  • The 14 Zaniest Subscription-Commerce Startups (AdAge)
  • Wal-Mart anxious to take on Amazon's Marketplace network of independent merchants (Bloomberg)
  • Poor Mobile App Performance Could Stifle Retail Sales (OnlineMediaDaily)
  • Why Influencer Marketing Is Failing In Retail (PSFK)
  • Google Glass: Is G-Commerce Next? (GetElastic)
  • Extreme Customer Service: Lessons From Companies That Go Above And Beyond (FastCo Create)
  • Coach’s Cheap Shares Make it a Likely Acquisition Target (The Business of Fashion)
  • Busting Underground Shoplifting Rings: Inside Organized Retail Crime Raids (NBC News)
  • Mobile Commerce Outlook 2013 (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • Google Is Building A Same-Day Amazon Prime Competitor, "Google Shopping Express" (TechCrunch) and E-tailers embrace same-day delivery, but U.S. shoppers shrug (Reuters)
  • As large chains falter, small retailers are pioneering social commerce (Bloomberg)

Wealthier U.S. Households Carry the Spending Load (WSJ)

Tuesday Retail & Consumer Roundup

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported that chain store sales rose a slight 0.2% for the week ending Mar 2nd compared to the prior week, and increased 1.8% over the prior-year period, which matched 2 weeks ago as the weakest YoY gain since early November.

According to the ICSC‐GS consumer tracking survey, business was steady at apparel‐specialty stores, up at grocery stores, but down versus the same week of 2012 for most segments with considerable weakness at drug stores, as weather continued unfavorable for spring seasonal items. Weather Trends International (WTI) said that the average nationwide temperature was 4.0°F colder than last year and 1.3°F colder than its long‐term trend.
"Sales for the month - and final week of the fiscal month - were sluggish as weather curbed the consumers' ability and willingness to shop," said Michael Niemira, ICSC's vice president of research and chief economist. "Given that lingering softness, ICSC Research is trimming its February sales forecast to 2 percent to 2.5 percent -- 50 basis points lower than the previous forecast, when retailers report their monthly sales figures on Thursday, March 7, 2013."

Redbook Research said same-store sales rose 2.2% in the final week of February following a 2.7% gain the prior week. Month-to-date, sales were up 2.6% compared to last year and 1.3% relative to last month.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Retail Bulletin

Economic & Retailer Earnings Calendar for the Week of 3/4 - 3/8

Retail & Consumer Reads to Start Your Week:
  • Penney’s and Macy’s Battle Over Martha Stewart Products (NY Times)
  • Showrooming battles may be ongoing but retailers are have mapped out a solid defensive strategy (STORES)
  • Will smartphones replace our wallets for good? (Gizmodo)
  • Inside Amazon's quest to make original television hits (Reuters)
  • Forget Training Bras, Girls Are Buying Lingerie (Businessweek)
  • A Truly Depressing Visit to a JCPenney Store (Slate)
  • Video: Too many stores, not enough shoppers (FT)
  • Why Bed Bath And Beyond, PetSmart Should Fear Showrooming More Than Best Buy (Forbes)
  • Fast Fashion Winners and Losers (The Business of Fashion)
  • As the luxury market evolves, so does Miami's Bal Harbour Shops (Miami Herald)
  • ShopKeep POS, The ‘East Coast Square,’ Raises $10 Million (WSJ)
  • Wal-Mart anxious to take on Amazon's Marketplace network of independent merchants (Bloomberg)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday's Big Reading List

  • Clothing Companies Start Creating Their Own Circular Economy (FastCo Exist)
  • How Banana Republic Founders Turned Khaki Into Retail Gold (Fortune)
  • Audience Insights Report Uncovers Trends About the Connected Shopper (JiWire)
  •  Personal income plunged 3.6% in January, biggest one-month drop in 20 years (USA Today)
  • Why Americans Are Cutting Coupons Out of Their Lives (Time)
  • J.C. Penney Trials Fast Fashion Boutiques In-Store (PSFK)
  • A Start-Up Aims to Upend E-Commerce by Selling Nail Polish (NY Times) and Julep Beauty Raises $10.3M To Disrupt The $160 Billion Cosmetics Industry (TechCrunch)
  • Does Shopper Marketing Mean The End Of Category Management? (Shopper Marketing)
  • Eddie Lampert's Annual Chairman's Letter (Sears Holdings)
  • The top 5 consumer-driven trends in retail (Bazaarvoice)
  • Barnes & Noble: Stores Are Bad, But E-Books Are Worse (WSJ) and What does the bookstore of the future look like? (The Economist)
  • The Surprising Retail Winners In Mobile Apps (Forbes)
  • Retailers Aim for the Spenders' Shrinking Wallets (CNBC)
  • Debunking the Myths Surrounding Multichannel Consumer Behavior (Merchandising Matters)
  • Shutl Pledges to Help Retailers Take on Amazon With Same-Day Delivery (Mashable)
  • Are ladies’ underpants the next billion-dollar startup? (VentureBeat)
  • Retailers Well Represented Among 'World's Most Admired Companies' (Fortune)
  • Will J.C. Penney Survive? (HBR) and Who Killed JC Penney? (The Atlantic)
  • Grocery Retailers Top Customer Experience Rankings (MarketingDaily)