Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday News & Notes

Here are Tuesday's top retail reads:
  • Internet’s creative destruction in retail just getting started (The Globe and Mail)
  • Is consignment the new fast fashion? (Upstart Business Journal)
  • Cheap clothes lead to danger and tragedy in Bangladesh (CNN Money) and Shoppers want bargains, but what about worker safety? (Washington Post)
  • Mexico retail boom attracts investors (ICSC)
  • Havaianas: From Peasant Footwear to Global Fashion Powerhouse (BrandChannel)
  • Digital Coupons, Mobile Give Cheapskates Staying Power (eMarketer)
  • Price Matching: Consumer Boon or Risky Business? (Businessweek)
  • Thinning Patience for Low Profits Could Equal Higher Amazon Prices (Wired)
  • Here's How Social Media Is Changing Retail (Huffington Post)
  • Online retailers’ sales forces are ubiquitous - and insidious (Boston Globe)
  • Fab ditches flash sales to focus on exclusive products, furniture & its very own retail store (VentureBeat) and Fab Now Offers Made-To-Order Products, A Physical Retail Store (FastCo)
  • Retail's Secret Weapon: Shopping Therapy via Enhanced Mobile Commerce (Forbes)
  • Wal-Mart's grand, green plans to reduce prices (Fortune)
  • Post-Recession Consumers Place Greater Importance on Saving Money (RetailMeNot)
  • America's Best Performing Cities (The Atlantic Cities)
  • The Future of Retail in the Age of the Flagship Store (WSJ)
  • Are retailers doing enough to leverage Kindle Fire? (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • Retail window displays innovate for a digital age (The Globe and Mail)

It seems initial fears that higher payroll taxes, delayed tax returns and an early-season spike in gas prices would crimp discretionary spending were overblown, as consumer have continued spending at a healthy clip.

Since peaking at $3.784 in late February, national prices at the pump have declined 26.4 cents, falling for 9 consecutive weeks and sitting 8.1% below year-ago levels. This extra money in consumers' pockets has helped offset the effect of higher taxes.

While tax refunds were initially delayed because of the sequester - as of March 1st, the number of refunds issued were 12.5% below last year's levels and the total amount dispersed was down 14.3%, as of April 19th activity has picked up considerably: the number of refunds issued were only 1.3% below 2012 levels and the total amount dispersed was down 3.0%, while the average refund was $2,659, or 1.8% lower than a year ago.

The one factor that has held back spending is the unseasonably cold temperatures we have seen across the country during the first half of spring, especially in the northeast. Data from Weather Trends International shows that national temperatures have been lower than last year for 10 straight weeks, and for 14 of 17 weeks since the start of the year.

Shoppers have held back upgrading spring wardrobes and spending on seasonal merchandise, and we expect retailers will blame the weather when they report weak April sales next week, and margin contraction in their 1st quarter earnings reports.

Chain store sales did perk up somewhat last week. The ICSC-Goldman Sachs Index posted its biggest jump in nine weeks, rising 2.6% over the prior year and 0.4% from last week.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Retail Reads to Start Your Week

  • U.S. retail and consumer M&A activity surges in first quarter of 2013 (PwC)
  • The future of the personalized shopping experience (FastCo)
  • Malls, shopping centers getting new life as residential and retail projects (Washington Post)
  • Amazon's success formula: move bits instead of boxes (Reuters)
  • 75% of mobile conversions stem from tablets (Internet Retailer) and The growing role of tablets in mobile commerce (MediaPost)
  • Millennials less likely to change spending habits because of economy (Retail's BIG Blog)
  • Why Consumer-Facing E-Commerce Is Broken (Business Insider)
  • Why The Future Is Murky For Old-Line Retailers J.C. Penney, Sears (Forbes)
  • Big-box stores add financial services to inventory (Seattle Times)
  • Retailer Expansion Slows as Focus Switches to Multichannel Integration (Accenture)
  • The Frontier Of Online Retail Is Curation (PSFK)
  • How Pretty Pictures Are Conquering Online Shopping (Wired) and And Now Comes The Rise Of P-Commerce (Mashable)
  • Web retailers try to regain edge with same-day delivery (NY Post)
  • What U.S. E-Commerce Can Learn from Its Global Copycats (HBR)
  • Nearly 40% of US mobile phone owners will become mobile phone shoppers by 2017 (Forrester)
  • How Mobile is Changing the In-Store Shopping Experience (PC Mag)
  • rue21 Seen as next M&A target in new retail LBO boom (Bloomberg)
  • Internet Sales Tax Coming Too Late for Some Stores (NY Times) and Tax-free digital content’s days may be numbered as well (MarketWatch)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's Top Retail Reads

  • The most active cities globally for shopping center development (CBRE)
  • Creating ‘Youphoria’ the Nordstrom Way (NY Times)
  • PayPal Expands To More Retail Stores (ReadWrite) and PayPal Hits The Mall: eBay's Baby Takes On Google, AmEx and Apple At Cash Registers (Forbes)
  • Dresses and denim drive strong women's apparel sales in 2012 (NPD Group)
  • The Re-Education of Duane Reade: A Drugstore as Retail, Therapy (NY Observer)
  • The importance of in-store video for retailers (The Guardian)
  • The State of Mobile Benchmark: Tablets overtake smartphones in traffic, conversion (Adobe)
  • Prom Spending is on the Rise Again (AP)
  • There’s room for retailers to improve their e-mail marketing (Internet Retailer)
  • Online tax could curb ‘showrooming’ (MarketWatch)
  • Mobile POS could transform the American shopping experience (VentureBeat)
  • A Clothing Shop Tailored for the Digital Age (WSJ) and Pants-Fetching ‘Bots Power Store of the Future, and Could Slow Amazon’s March (Wired)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Big Mid-Week Reading List

  • Mobile is both curse and cure for retailers at risk from showroomers (TNS)
  • Outlet Mall With Fashion Ambition Rises Near Chicago (NY Times)
  • The Impact of Income on Convenience Store Shopping (CStoreNews)
  • The Entertaining And Cringe-Inducing Ways Urban Outfitters Describes Its Customers To Wall Street (BuzzFeed)
  • One-third of retailers see more than 20% of traffic coming from mobile (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • Content is the new retail store (USA Today)
  • Gap to Use Multi-Brand Platform to Increase U.S. Market Share (NREI)
  • Smartphones, Tablets Drive Faster Growth in Ecommerce Sales (eMarketer)
  • Specialty retailers are beating department stores in the underwars (Crain's NY)
  • Mobile moms browse, buy on own schedule (Chain Store Age)
  • The Mom & Pop Internet Sales Tax (WSJ) and A New Tax That Could Send Shoppers Back to the Mall (The Fiscal Times) and Online Retailers Take Opposite Sides On Sales Tax Bill (NPR)
  • A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93% (Pew Research Center)
  • More Shoppers Share Bad Customer Service Experiences Than Good (POPAI)
  • Shopping Within Images On Twitter And Facebook (PSFK)
  • Wal-Mart Vs. Amazon: World's Biggest E-Commerce Battle Could Boil Down To Vegetables (Forbes)
  • Most Affluent Will Maintain Spending Despite Higher Income Taxes (American Affluence Research Center)
  • How eBay Is Blurring Online, Offline Shopping (WSJ)
  • Infographic: Men More Likely Than Women to Use Mobile Shopping Technology (Adweek)
  • From moments to journeys: A paradigm shift in customer experience excellence (McKinsey)
  • Flagship Stores and E-Commerce: Recipe for Retail Success in China (Nasdaq)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Retail Reads to Start Your Week

  • With Tablets, Retailers Ring Up at More Fanciful Cash Registers (NY Times)
  • The 12 Worst Supermarkets in America (The Fiscal Times)
  • Best Buy and Samsung further tie their knot (Star Tribune)
  • Latest Profile of the 21st Century Social Mom Shows Her World Is Social (BabyCenter.com)
  • Coach Fights to Keep Cachet as Competition Rises (WSJ)
  • How Did the Baby Catalog Know? Exploring the world of digital data-mining (The Atlantic)
  • Under Armour sets global ambitions (MarketWatch)
  • Infographic: How The Average American Spends Their Money (CreditLoan)
  • Nutrisystem Joins Forces With Walmart in Retail Push (AdAge)
  • Study Shows Teen Discretionary Spending Climbing (Piper Jaffray)
  • Gap Proposes Franchising, Seamless Shopping in Plan for Global Expansion (BrandChannel)
  • 5 Failures That Show Even Amazon Sometimes Checks Out (Wired)
  • Why Online Retailers Are Scrambling To Lure In Canadian Shoppers (SeedWalker)
  • With an Evolutionary Approach, Uniqlo Aims to Create New Category (Business of Fashion)

Why Online Retailers Are Scrambling To Lure In Canadian Shoppers (SeedWalker)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Reading List

  • The Luxury Market for Babies and Toddlers Is Back (Businessweek)
  • The Lululemon rival that grew rapidly with almost no advertising (The Globe and Mail)
  • How Retailers Can Recruit and Retain Millennials (Entrepreneur)
  • Fab is Pivoting Again To Become The 'World's Alternative To Amazon And Wal-Mart' (Business Insider)
  • Top 10 ideas from Retail over the last 12 months (Springwise)
  • Does Kmart’s Hilarious New Ad Acknowledge That Kmart Stores Are Hopeless? (Time)
  • Personalized Commerce: Coming to an Internet Near You (AdAge)
  • How Mobile Affects the Path to Purchase for Adidas (eMarketer)
  • A Closet Filled With Regrets: Why People Regularly Wear Just 20% of Their Wardrobe (WSJ)
  • Can Joe Fresh Save JCPenney... and Retail? (BrandChannel)
  • What your zip code reveals about you to retailers (CNN Money)
  • The Business of Record Store Day (Fortune) and Record Store Day brings customers - and headaches - for independent stores (Washington Post)
  • Infographic: What Women Want When Shopping For Apparel & Shoes (Swirl)
  • The Man Who Made the Cash Register Obsolete (Inc.http://bit.ly/10nryms)
  • How Stores Get You To Buy Stuff Using A Sensory Bombardment (Consumerist)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday News & Notes

  • The Science Behind How Online Retailers Turn You Into A Customer For Life (Business Insider)
  • What a Shock...the Gourmet Cupcake Bubble is Popping (WSJ)
  • Trickle Down Retail: Mass Takes A Few Cues From the Higher End (WWD)
  • Tale of Two Supermarkets: Why Fresh & Easy Flopped and Fairway Flies High (Time)
  • What's the Worth of a Facebook Fan? (Mashable) and Social Networking For Marketers: How Pinterest Crushes Facebook (ReadWrite)
  • Sales of men's underwear & socks as an economic indicator? (MarketWatch)
  • How Consumers Spend Their Time Online (Experian)
  • Are You Listening to Your Most Important Customers? (HBR)
  • The End of Full-Time Work in the American Retail Service Sector (Forbes)
  • Despite Target's entry into Canada, cross-border shopping is on the rise (The Globe and Mail)
  • The Teen Transition: Adolescents of Today, Adults of Tomorrow (Nielsen)
  • Attention Retailers: Amazon Prime members are located in Aisle 5 (Compete) and Amazon hopes its original TV shows convince more to become Prime members (Washington Post)

It's hard to get a read on the American consumer these days: 
  • On the plus side, gas prices have come down significantly, the job market continues to improve, and rising house and stock prices are bolstering household wealth
  • On the other hand, consumers are confronted with less-take home pay due to higher payroll taxes, delayed tax refunds, and austerity measures which appear to be constraining economic growth
The 15 or so consumer confident/sentiment indicators we track are showing a cloudy picture and consumers have been cautious with their spending in the first quarter of the year, but today Bloomberg reported that its Consumer Comfort Index reached a 5-year high last week.

The differences across demographics are telling, and show the recovery has been much better for some: Those taking home more than $50k per year were the least pessimistic in more than five years, and those with incomes greater than $100k were the most optimistic in more than two years. However, sentiment among those making less than $25k annually dropped, and part-time employees also grew more pessimistic.
"Upper-income Americans continue to feel buoyant on the sustainable recovery," said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. "The difficulties that can be observed down the income ladder reflect the significant split in the fortunes of upper-income Americans and low-income cohorts."
“The question is whether consumer sentiment can maintain enough momentum to keep pushing on up,” Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates in New York, which compiles the index for Bloomberg, said in a statement. “Recent trends -- a down January, an up February, a mostly flat March, now this surge -- suggest a bumpy ride, but at least one that’s headed in the right direction.”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Big Mid-Week Reading List

  • Shoppers’ Belts Remain Tight Despite Economic Improvement (Deloitte)
  • Sam’s Club faces heightened competition (The City Wire)
  • Warehouses Win Investors as Unsung Internet-Trade Heroes (Businessweek)
  • Retail Redlining: One of the Most Pervasive Forms of Racism Left in America? (The Atlantic Cities)
  • Fairway, New York Grocer With Big Ambitions, Goes Public (DealBook)
  • U.S. Consumers Love the Brands that Love Them (Analytic Partners)
  • Attention JC Penney Shoppers: Look Out for the Return of 'Sales Galore' (Time) and JC Penney Looks to Borrow Against Real Estate Holdings to Raise Cash (Bloomberg)
  • Five Things You Didn't Know About CPG Mobile Advertising (AdAge)
  • Why Amazon Could Start Taking Business Cues From the ’80s (Wired)
  • Better Data Collection Will Help Retailers (MediaPost)
  • Elevating the customer experience is essential for differentiation and survival for retailers (e-tailing group)
  • Online retailers extend reach with delivery lockers (Star Tribune)
  • Tipping Its Hat to a Younger Generation, Pukka Headwear Finds Success With Customized Approach (Entrepreneur)
  • Why Every Retailer Wants to Sell Food (The Food Journal)
  • Men lead the way in mobile shopping (Warc)
  • Sony to expand retail footprint to compete with Apple (SlashGear)
  • In retail, life on the job often leads to a dead end (CBS News)
  • Is 'Showrooming' the Future of Retailing? (LinkedIn) and 57% of Showroomers Test Products, Then Head to Amazon (Mashable)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday News & Notes

Tuesday's Reading List:
  • How Jenna Lyons Transformed J.Crew Into a Cult Brand (FastCo)
  • Big-box stores ramping up financial services offerings (Miami Herald)
  • Starbucks, Wal-Mart offering classes - for college credit (CNN Money)
  • Social Media Becomes Less Important to Teens; Prefer to Shop In-Store Than Online (MarketingProfs)
  • Kmart’s cheeky ‘Ship My Pants’ video goes viral, eyes TV run (Adweek)
  • The True Cost of Retail Fraud (LexisNexis)
  • Amazon Goes After Older Adults & Seniors With New Store (TechCrunch)
  • Retailers ramp up social media to win friends and influence shoppers (Internet Retailer)
  • Western Retailers Look for E-Commerce Opportunities in China (CKGSB Knowledge)
  • The big data revolution for retailers has arrived (CNBC)
  • U.S. Consumers Want a Seamless Shopping Experience Across Store, Online and Mobile that Many Retailers are Struggling to Deliver (Accenture)
  • U.S. Social Ad Revenues to Reach $11B in 2017 (BIA/Kelsey)

Target lowered first quarter guidance this morning due to "softer-than-expected sales trends particularly in seasonal and weather-sensitive categories across the store."

Even as much of the country got a “strong shot of spring weather with high temperatures reaching into the mid 80s as far north as Pennsylvania." last week according to Weather Trends International, unseasonably cold weather will no doubt be blamed for disappointing earnings from other chains in the coming weeks.

Retailers have gotten much better at inventory management since the depths of the recession, and we have yet to see aggressive promotional activity in our channel checks for spring and seasonal merchandise. Most chains are hoping a return to more typical seasonal weather patterns will trigger some pent-up demand on the part of the consumer.

However, it's worth noting that year-over-year inventory growth (excluding autos) is starting to outpace sales growth, especially at apparel and general merchandise stores, which could spell margin pressure in the coming quarters.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Retail Reads to Start Your Week

  • Why a Warby Parker flagship retail store is a big moment for online brands (GigaOM)
  • How Teenagers Spend Their Money (The Atlantic)
  • Don't Miss Jeff Bezos' Annual Letter to Amazon Shareholders (Amazon.com)
  • Traditional Retailers Lagging in Plus-Sized Fashion Offerings (The Globe and Mail)
  • A look back 111 years at JC Penney's first store (CBS News)
  • The strange and inglorious history of tech boutique retailers (CNET) and Ron Johnson’s brand-oriented boutiques couldn’t save JC Penney. Is Best Buy any different? (PandoDaily)
  • Why airport shopping is big business (Independent Online)
  • New app pays consumers to shop (Mashable)
  • Lucky Brand, Juicy Couture Said to Draw Interest From VF, Buyout Firms (Bloomberg)
  • The Next Big Marketing Weapon For Supermarkets - The Dietitian (AdAge)
  • Target deploys prolific group of social-media gurus to win over consumers (Star Tribune)
  • Same-day delivery service may finally give retailers a fighting chance against Amazon (VentureBeat)
  • J.C. Penney's Real Problem: The Shrinking Middle Class (HBR) and For Penney, a Tough Lesson in Shopper Psychology (NY Times)
  • How the Internet Is Bankrolling the World’s Best Hoodies - And Rebooting U.S. Manufacturing (Wired)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Reading List

  • Take A Look Inside Warby Parker's New NYC Flagship Store (FastCo)
  • 7 Emerging Trends in Shopper Marketing (POPAI)
  • Buyout Firms Circling Distressed JC Penney (NY Post) and What Ron Johnson Got Right at JC Penney (HBR)
  • Dollar Shave Club, From Viral Video to Real Business (NY Times)
  • Facebook Fatigue Among Teens Should Freak Out Marketers (Businessweek)
  • As e-commerce gains momentum, ChannelAdvisor files for IPO (VentureBeat)
  • Landlords and Retailers: Partnering for Profitability (ICSC)
  • In-Store Gets the Cold Shoulder, as More Women Favor Web Buying (eMarketer)
  • 5 Big Retailers That’ll Be Gone in 5 Years (Yahoo! Finance)
  • With Profitable Operations And 100K Stores On Its Platform, Retail Tech Startup Erply Shifts Into High Gear (TechCrunch)
  • Can Big-Box Stores Fight Showrooming With Celebrity Brands? (FastCo)
  • Uniqlo Sets Goal: No. 1 U.S. Apparel Chain by 2020 (WSJ)
  • The Unique Profile Of Pinterest Users (Forrester)
  • How Walmart Plans to Bring Back "Made in America" (Time)
  • Now You Can Buy and Sell Items Directly in Your Twitter Feed With Ribbon (Mashable)
  • Toys ‘R’ Us Needs to Up its Game for Owners to Cash Out (NREI)

Retail Sales Cool Down in March

Retail sales in the U.S. fell in March for the first time in 5 months, and posted the biggest drop in 9 months.

There are many factors at play here which we have already mentioned: higher payroll taxes, delayed tax refunds and relatively high gas prices which are causing consumers to be cautious with their spending; unseasonably cool weather which held back spring apparel and seasonal purchases; and finally the timing of Easter, which typically wreaks havoc on year-to-year comparisons.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services sales for March declined 0.4% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $418.3 billion, while sales rose 2.8% compared to the year-ago period. Year-over-year, this was the 41st straight monthly rise, but the weakest gain since November of 2009.

Total sales excluding Autos were up 2.0% compared to last March and dropped 0.4% from the prior month, while total sales less Autos and Gas Stations showed a 2.4% year-on-year increase, the weakest since February 2010, and were down a slight 0.1% from February.

Only 5 of 13 sectors posted growth over the prior month, led by Furniture & Home Furnishings Stores (+0.9% MoM / +2.8% YoY), Miscellaneous Store Retailers (+0.8% MoM / +4.4% YoY) and Food Services & Drinking Places (+0.7% MoM / +4.3% YoY).

However, weakness was apparent in discretionary categories, such as Electronics & Appliance Stores (-1.6% MoM / -3.2% YoY), General Merchandise Stores (-1.2% MoM / -4.9% YoY), and most especially at Department Stores (-1.1% MoM / -7.6% YoY) which posted a 4.9% sales decline in the first 3 months of the year compared to 2012. The last time department stores posted an annual sales gain was 2004.

It's possible this month is just a blip caused by the seasonal effect of the early Easter - last year we saw an exceptionally strong March followed by a weak April - and with falling gas prices, shoppers finally getting their tax refunds and pent-up demand for spring and seasonal goods, we could see the reverse this year.

On the other hand, the initial reading of the Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index released this morning, which fell to a nine-month low, shows the perilous state of the American consumer: survey director Richard Curtin said "rising home and stock values were expected to support spending this year," but consumer's long-term outlook was gloomy "with many anticipating a higher unemployment rate and lower after-tax income in the year ahead."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Retail News & Notes: A Chilly Start to Spring

A combination of higher payroll taxes, delayed tax returns and unseasonably cool weather has made for a chilly start to spring for many American retailers.

Gap won't report March sales results until after the close, but consolidated sales for the 12 non-drug store chains that have reported (see graphic below) posted just a 2.5% rise in same-store sales for March, which was the lowest since August 2009.

Weather was certainly a factor, as Weather Trends International said last month "was the coldest March in the U.S. in 17 years, with the most snowfall in 20 years." The early Easter, which fell a week earlier than last year and three weeks earlier than in 2011, was expected to lift sales 1-2% point but provided little lift as wintry weather held back sales of spring apparel and seasonal merchandise.

Because of the Easter shift every year, the combined March-April period always provides a much better barometer of business. In addition, with so many chains dropping out of the ranks of monthly sales reporting, these reports don't necessarily paint an accurate picture of the overall industry.

However, tomorrow morning the Department of Commerce will release national retail sales figures for March, which will provide a much broader view of consumer spending across a variety of retail sectors.

Tuesday's Reading List:
  • American Families Increasingly Let Kids Make Buying Decisions (Time)
  • Tied to the Mall, J.C. Penney and Macy's Need Each Other (Businessweek)
  • How companies can make their loyalty programs more effective (McKinsey & Co)
  • Walmart exec says biggest mobile opportunity is connecting with in-store customers (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • Americans Love Amazon, But Going to the Store Still Matters Most (Wired)
  • Why Fab proves that social media sells (The Guardian)
  • PayPal hopes to break shoppers' swipe habit in stores (Reuters)
  • Bloomingdale's Installs Body Scanners to Help You Find Jeans That Fit (Mashable)
  • PC Shipments Post the Steepest Decline Ever in a Single Quarter (IDC) and Worldwide PC Shipments Drop to Lowest Levels Since Second Quarter of 2009 (Gartner)
  • How Walmart Wants Brands to Fuel Its Content Engine (AdAge)
  • Rich People Are Less Loyal to Specific Brands (Adweek)
  • Ron Johnson’s failed experiment in honest pricing (Marketwatch)
  • How to build a better seamless retail customer strategy (Accenture)
  • Pandora For Pants: Are Personal Shopping Services The Future Of Retail? (FastCo)
  • Facebook uses offline purchases to target ads (CNN Money)
  • How Goldman's dollar-store bet reaped a fortune (Fox Business)
  • Video: Warby Parker Makes Big Bet on Bricks & Mortar (CNBC)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Big Mid-Week Reading List

  • How Big Data and Analytics Are Transforming In-Store Experience for Retailers (ClickZ)
  • Inside H&M's Quest For Sustainability In Fast Fashion (Forbes)
  • New Chicago flagship Walgreens shows the future of retail (Slate)
  • Shoppers In Buying Mode More Receptive To Online Ads (MediaPost)
  • Mobile Payments an Undeniable Game Changer for Retail POS (Javelin Strategy & Research)
  • Walmart Takes Its TV Ad Fight Local (AdAge)
  • Want to get people shopping socially? It might be harder than you think (GigaOM)
  • LVMH to Mix Luxury and Tourism in Paris (WSJ)
  • Retailers and Banks: Finding the Path to the Ultimate Alliance (Kurt Salmon)
  • Retail Imports To Increase 2.7% In April (NRF)
  • Vehicle charging stations coming to California, Arizona supermarkets (LA Times)
  • Online shoppers increasingly sign in to retail sites via Facebook (Internet Retailer)
  • Three Rules for Making a Company Truly Great (HBR)
  • Sizing up J.C. Penney for a buyout (MarketWatch) J.C. Penney’s Ron Johnson shows the perils of a star CEO (Washington Post) and Ron Johnson's 5 Key Mistakes At JC Penney, In His Own Words (FastCo)
  • Brands Buy Real-Time Mobile Ads Based on the Weather (Adweek)
  • Beauty buyers rely on mobile reviews in-store before making a purchase (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • Future of shopping? Digital storefronts for a new world (USA Today)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Top Retail Reads for Tuesday

  • J.C. Penney ousts CEO, Mike Ullman returns to helm (Reuters) and Ron Johnson's Retail Revolution Ends With CEO's Exit From JC Penney (AdAge) and J.C. Penney’s Post-Johnson Options Seen to Include Sale (Bloomberg)
  • Are retail clinics the future of health care? (ConsumerAffairs)
  • Coupon Use Still Prevalent Among American Consumers (Linkable Networks)
  • Warby Parker eyeing Boston retail store? (Boston Herald)
  • Consumers Care About Buying From Socially Responsible Brands Now More Than Ever (FastCo Exist)
  • A smartphone-sized shopping mall debuts (Internet Retailer)
  • Lasting Memories? Say Goodbye To The Sears Portrait Studio (WSJ)
  • Can the Boutique ‘Store-Within-a-Store’ Concept Save Big Box Retailers from Extinction? (Time)
  • Vitacost Turns To Tablets To Drive Serendipitous Sales (TechCrunch)
  • Same-day delivery a new threat to retailers (Boston Globe)
  • How are retailers using Facebook to drive sales? (eMarketer)
  • Bi-Rite Market offers a look at the past, and possibly the future, of the grocery business (STORES)

Tax Refunds Could Provide Much-Needed Consumer Spending Boost

American consumers entered 2013 facing extreme headwinds, with a payroll tax hike that took a 2% bite of their paychecks and delayed tax refunds due to the fiscal cliff deal, not to mention rapidly rising gas prices which began approaching the psychologically significant $4/gallon level early in the new year.

This became apparent when internal e-mails leaked from Walmart showed the world's largest retailer had the worst start to February in 7 years. The company noted that $19.7 billion more in tax refunds had been received by shoppers by early February of last year, and the extra tax bite was "about equal to a year of car insurance for a family making $30,000 or a basket of groceries per month for a family making $50,000."

However, the effect might not be as bad as initially feared. A recent survey by Bankrate.com showed the majority of consumers (55%) were either unaware or unaffected by the extra 2% coming out of their paychecks, while 30% of respondents said they cut back on spending.

Surprisingly, lower-income earners (incomes less than $30k) were most likely to say that they did not notice the change (55%), while middle-income households were the most likely to cut back on spending, with only 39% saying they didn't notice the change.

On the other hand, nearly three quarters of those polled in the National Retail Federation's 2013 Tax Returns survey said they are adjusting their spending due to less take-home pay

Monday, April 8, 2013

Retail Reads to Start Your Week

  • Samsung To Open Retail Boutiques In 1,400 Best Buy Stores (TechCrunch)
  • U.S. Shopping-Center Rents Climb as Less Space Is Added (Businessweek)
  • Fairway Market moving ahead with IPO disrupted by Sandy (NY Post)
  • Macy’s $600 Blenders Win Boomers in Kitchen-Gadget Surge (Bloomberg)
  • Vera Bradley’s success fueled by affordability, multi-generational appeal (Washington Post)
  • In-store Wi-Fi vital to future of luxury retail (Luxury Daily)
  • Comparing Same-Day Delivery Options: Who Should Score the Most Shoppers? (POPAI)
  • Social Media's Influence on Buying Behavior Questioned (CredutDonkey)
  • FreshDirect's Secret to Tantalizing Its Customers (Direct Marketing News)
  • Retailers leveraging smartphones to deliver hyper-local in-store advertising (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • Video: Sam's Club CEO on allure of bulk buying (CBS News)
  • Retail Employment Slumps Most in Year as Stores Cut Back (Bloomberg)
  • Dollar Stores Should Continue to Thrive, But Growth Will Slow Down (NREI)
  • Retailers Turn Stores Into Online Fulfillment Centers (Forbes)
  • Has Best Buy Turned the Tide Against Showrooming? (WSJ)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mid-Week Reading List

  • New wave of innovative retailers creating the next-generation shopping experience (Forbes)
  • Fifth & Pacific Explores Sale of Juicy, Lucky Brands to Focus on Kate Spade (WSJ)
  • Tablets - The New Purchase Path: Swipe, Tap, Own (L2 Think Tank)
  • Toys R Us Needs a Business Model Makeover (CNBC)
  • Not a myth: Retail therapy may improve your mood (NBC News)
  • Traditional Payment Options Will be Disrupted in 2013 (MultiChannel Merchant)
  • America’s Favorite Shoe Retailers (Market Force Information)
  • They Search Local Businesses on Mobile; Most Then Buy (MediaPost)
  • Gift retailers draw on crowdfunding model (FT)
  • Internet Shopping Sprees Are Driving an Astonishing Building Boom (Wired) and E-Commerce Explosion Should Lift Distribution Rents High (NREI)
  • Walmart offers gasoline discount to woo shoppers (Reuters)
  • SMG to Track How Mobile Ads Lead to In-store Visits (AdAge)
  • Will Dollar Stores Rule the Retail World? (Time)
  • More Consumers Plan to Use their Tax Refund to Shop (PriceGrabber)
  • How Best Buy defused a power struggle time bomb (Fortune)
  • U.S. Women Control the Purse Strings (Nielsen)
  • Check Out The Super-Local Whole Foods With A Huge Rooftop Greenhouse (FastCo Exist)
  • Survey Finds American Consumers Like Shopping Green (Cone Communications)
  • British Chic Tested as Asos to TopShop Seek U.S. Growth (Bloomberg)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Reading List

  • E-Commerce Companies Bypass Middlemen to Build Premium Brands (NY Times)
  • The robots are coming: Swisslog shows the US e-commerce crowd its automated fulfillment tech (PandoDaily)
  • Brands Favor Social Shares Over Likes (Adweek)
  • Prolonged Winter Puts Retail Sales in Deep Freeze (CNBC)
  • Vitamins Become Growing Business for Consumer-Product Companies (WSJ)
  • Google Shopping Express vs Amazon, eBay & Walmart ToGo (SiliconANGLE)
  • Japan’s Answer to Jeff Bezos Sets Sights on Amazon, America (Wired)
  • Retailers Expecting Explosive Mobile Growth This Year, Focusing On Apps (MediaPost)
  • PayPal eyes in-store retail customers (FT)
  • As teens abandon malls, trendy retailers lose their cool (Crain's NY)
  • Retail CIO's focus investments on infrastructure and integration (STORES)
  • Wal-Mart Customers Complain Bare Shelves Are Widespread (Bloomberg)
  • CPG Brands Up the Mobile App Ante (eMarketer)
  • Why Apparel Companies Compete To Outfit College Hoops Teams (Time)
  • More men are driving the grocery cart, and stores are working to appeal to them (Star Tribune)
  • Same-day shipping will soon be ubiquitous (Fortune)
  • Is home where the J.C. Penney profit is? (Seattle Times) and J.C. Penney's home revamp is make or break for CEO Johnson (Chicago Tribune)
  • From Click to Brick: E-Commerce Redefines In-Store Retail (CNBC)
  • Lack of holistic mobile strategy, costs stall in-store Wi-Fi for retailers (Mobile Commerce Daily)

Tuesday Retail & Consumer Round-Up

Despite another week of unseasonably cold temperatures across much of the U.S., shoppers stepped up their spending in the week leading up to Easter. However, the frosty start to spring, especially compared to record-warm temperatures last March, means we will most likely start to see steep markdowns for apparel and seasonal merchandise.

Last year, March was the warmest on record in more than 100 years according to Evan Gold, senior vice president of client services at Planalytics. But this year, he said "March is trending the coldest since 1996 in the U.S. It's also the snowiest March since 2002," He noted that "demand for shorts fell 12 percent in the fourth week of March versus a year ago and 9 percent for sandals. Interest in lawn and garden items fell 21 percent, delaying the most lucrative season for home improvement stores."

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported that chain store sales rose 1.9% for the week ending Mar 30th compared to the year-ago period, while sales soared 4.7% over the prior week, which was the best performance in over 17 years. However, that was more a reflection over the timing of Easter and will be offset by a sharp fall next week.

According to the ICSC‐GS consumer tracking survey, business was very strong at department stores and wholesale clubs and strong at dollar, electronics, office and furniture stores, but weaker at apparel, drug and discount stores, and especially grocery stores.
"Despite the abnormally cold weather throughout the eastern United States—which certainly negatively affected the strength of Easter apparel demand—Easter sales combined with some pent-up demand from the prior week drove sales up sharply on a week-over-week basis," said Michael Niemira, ICSC vice president of research and chief economist. "But still, that lingering cold bout in the middle of the country east, has pared the strength of sales for March and as such ICSC Research has lowered it lower bound forecast for the month,"
Weather Trends International (WTI) noted that the average nationwide temperature during this past week was 13.4°F colder than last year and 3.3°F below its long-term average. WTI observed "continued unfavorable conditions for seasonal spring categories across the eastern two‐thirds of the nation,"

ShopperTrak, which won't report weekly sales until later today, said they would normally expect a large weekly pickup since the Saturday before Easter is typically one of the largest shopping days of the year outside the Christmas shopping season. However, the firm noted that "cool weather conditions will most likely dampen Easter clothing and spring merchandise purchases," and business will be softer than usual until spring finally arrives.

Redbook Research said same-store sales rose 3.5% in the final week of March, the strongest gain since Thanksgiving and following a 2.6% rise the prior week. For the month, sales were up 3.0% over the prior year and 0.8% relative to February.
Easter related purchases drove demand for boys and girls apparel, footwear and Easter seasonal goods. In some regions, cooler weather shifted shopper's attention away from apparel and seasonal merchandise. Retailers typically prefer a later Easter holiday since temperatures are more likely to be higher making for a smooth transition into the core of the spring season; this year's Easter falls two weeks earlier than last year. Some retailers were disappointed that the earlier pre-Easter momentum had not been sustained through the holiday weekend itself.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that gas prices fell for the fifth consecutive week to $3.645 for the week ending 4/1, down 3.5 cents from the prior week and 13.9 cents from the February peak - prices at the pump are 7.5% below levels a year ago.

Contrary to a sharp downturn in the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index earlier in the week, the Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment improved in March on an improving job market and rising home prices.
Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, said "Although confidence dipped in early March, since the middle of the month consumers have expressed improved prospects for economic growth. Two factors were responsible for the gains: consumers discounted the administration’s warning about economic catastrophe following the cuts in federal spending, and consumers have renewed their expectations that job gains will accelerate in the months ahead. This is not the first time that optimism increased following the Great Recession, but the recent gains stand a better chance to be sustained and ultimately lead to a lower unemployment rate and support consumer spending increases in the year ahead.