FINANCE

Accenture: Holiday spending to increase; discount stores top destination

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — One-quarter (25%) of U.S. consumers plans to spend more on holiday shopping this year up from 20% in 2013, and spending on holiday gifts is expected to average $718, according to Accenture’s annual holiday shopping survey.

The survey also found consumer enthusiasm for Black Friday shopping has reached its highest level in eight years. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said they are likely to shop on Black Friday, compared to 55% who planned to do so in 2013.

In addition, 37% plan to shop online during that period using a desktop, mobile device or tablet, up from 32% in 2013. Plans to shop on Thanksgiving Day and evening rose to 45% from 38% 2013. Of those consumers planning to shop on the holiday, 47% said that they will be shopping in a physical store between 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

The Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey found that of those consumers planning to spend more this year, 28% said they have more discretionary income and 22% noted that they have greater job security, up from 15% in 2013. Additionally, consumers are planning to allocate a greater share of wallet to holiday shopping than in previous years. For example, of those planning to spend more this year, 47% plan to spend $250 or more compared to 40% in 2013.

Even though they intend to spend more, holiday shoppers remain keenly focused on discounts and sales. Nearly all respondents (96% versus 94% in 2013) said that discounts will be important to their purchasing decisions, and more than one in four (29%) said that it would take a discount of 50% or more to persuade them to make a purchase.

Retailers could also see a shift in sales in the post-holiday season this year, as more than half (57%) of consumers plan to purchase gift cards (the top item on consumers’ shopping lists) this year and 17% will use gift cards to do their holiday shopping, up from 10% in 2013.

“The majority of retailers look for ways to extend the holiday season as late as possible, but can face challenges in delivering a physical product in time,” said Dave Richards, global managing director, Accenture’s Retail practice. “Personalized promotions and pushing gift cards are a good way for retailers to continue momentum and stretch this success into the post-holiday season.”

Digital technologies
Digital technologies will play a big role in holding shopping this year. More than half of consumers surveyed (63%) indicated that they will use a laptop or home computer to make purchases or assist in their holiday shopping this season (up 16% from last year), and 24% plan to use a smartphone, up from 18% last year.

In addition, 13% of respondents said they intend to use social networking sites to assist them in their holiday shopping, up from 11% in 2013. And 36% said they would shop this year using a mobile phone, smartphone or tablet in-store in order to compare prices, and 21% believe that the technology to do that has improved significantly. At the same time, 44% said that an easy-to-use website would make them more likely to buy holiday gifts online.

In other digital highlights, 71% of respondents said they are using, would definitely use or are willing to try out a mobile tool that scans products as they’re placed in a shopping cart and keeps a running tab of the total amount spent. Additionally, 76% said they would definitely use or would be willing to try mobile services that provide them with real-time promotions and offers as they shopped in-store if those services were offered.

“With over one-third of survey respondents saying they would shop this holiday season using a mobile device in-store in order to compare prices, it is critical for retailers to make it seamless for consumers to trade on mobile applications by incorporating social media and mobile technologies into their stores and multichannel environments,” Richards said. “It is more important than ever that retailers switch from a mass-marketing approach to promotions and embrace mobile and other digital tools to deliver more targeted one-to-one offers.”

Early jump on buying holiday gifts
The survey revealed that 49% of consumers had already started, or planned to start, the majority of their shopping in September, well in advance of Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Nearly one-fifth of survey respondents said they had already spent between $100 and $500 on holiday gift purchases by mid-September of this year. One contributing factor could be that over the past three years, the number of consumers who believe the best discounts of the season can be found before Thanksgiving and Black Friday has been rising steadily – to 18% in 2014 from 12% in 2012.

Discount retailers prevail
Discount retailers continue to be the top destination for shoppers this holiday season (71%). Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they will shop at online-only retailers, compared to 44% in 2012. And nearly half (47%) of consumers plan to buy gifts at department stores this year, up 12 percentage points from 2013.

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News

Walmart gears up for small format growth

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart is set to announce its 2015 growth priorities next week and in a clear sign of an accelerating Neighborhood Market rollout, the retailer has created a new organizational structure made up of seasoned operators and accomplished merchants.

Expectations were already high that Walmart would accelerate Neighborhood Market growth next year and additional confirmation was offered this week when top executive shared details on a new organizational structure designed to support an enterprise much larger than the existing 428 stores that meet Walmart’s definition of small formats.

Walmart EVP and president of small formats Mike Moore did not offer specifics on the number of units to open in 2015 — those details will be disclosed publicly next week — but he did provide details on the recently implemented structure and key leadership moves during the annual Emerging Trends in Retail conference organized by the Center for Retailing Excellence in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

Moore, who reports to Judith McKenna, Walmart’s chief development officer, said he now oversees a group consisting of five direct reports specifically focused on small formats. Logistics veteran Larry Mahoney serves as SVP of supply chain and Marc Lieberman serves as VP of small formats and has been involved in Walmart’s small format efforts for more than 10 years. Perhaps the most telling indicator of an accelerating rollout is the appointment of Brian Hooper as VP of real estate fully dedicated to small formats. Lea Jepson, who previously held a role in Walmart’s fresh merchandising area, now serves as senior director of merchandising for small formats. Her team consists of approximately 15 to 20 merchants who work closely with Walmart’s larger merchandising organization overseen by chief merchandising officer Duncan Mac Naughton.

From a field operations standpoint, Walmart has divided the country in half. West of the Mississippi River, David Norman serves as SVP of operations and oversees three regions led by regional vice presidents Paul Stone (west), Randy Green (southwest) and Nick Berkeley (Midwest). East of the Mississippi, Glenda Fleming serves as SVP of operations and oversees two regions led by regional vice presidents Paul Lewellen (southeast) and Kaitlin Wolfe (northeast).

Breaking the structure down further, stores are overseen my market managers, commonly referred to as district managers, who are responsible for roughly 15 units. Having a dedicated field operations and market manager structure is a major change for Walmart. Previously, a market manager would have overseen stores in a trading area that consisted of supercenters and Neighborhood Markets. However, high volume supercenters tended to command more attention because of their sales and related challenges.

According to Moore, the dedicated structure has energized the small format team, which is excited about accelerating growth and experimented with new approaches to serving shoppers.

“We are moving and moving with speed in a way we never have before,” Moore said.

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OPERATIONS

UPS to expand home package deliveries

BY Marianne Wilson

Atlanta — United Parcel Service Inc. said it will expand UPS My Choice and the UPS Access Point network, two of the company’s services that work together to provide online shoppers and global retailers with new personalized solutions to manage residential package deliveries.

UPS My Choice, the customizable online and mobile service where consumers choose delivery preferences and more, will now be available to consumers in 15 additional countries throughout North America and Europe. The service was introduced in the U.S. in 2011.

The UPS Access Point network, with the broadest integrated cross-border footprint in Europe, is now available in New York City and Chicago and will expand rapidly to cover all major U.S. metropolitan markets during 2015. The UPS My Choice and UPS Access Point combined service will also be available in Poland, Italy, Canada and Mexico later this month.

The company stated that more than 10 million U.S. consumers already use UPS My Choice to plan for their deliveries when and where it is convenient for them.

The company said that Consumers in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will be able to sign up for the free service at ups.com/mychoice.

UPS My Choice members receive advance delivery notifications informing them of the delivery timing of each UPS package. Consumers also have the ability to reroute eligible packages to another address or reschedule deliveries for a future date before a UPS driver makes a delivery. Consumers can also activate a vacation setting to have packages held and delivered when they return home.

In addition, the company stated that UPS My Choice members will have the ability to send qualifying shipments directly to a UPS Access Point location as their preferred delivery address. These local businesses, primarily The UPS Store locations, as well as convenience, drug and electronic stores with evening and weekend hours, fit a consumer's busy lifestyle. Consumers can also drop off pre-labeled and prepaid packages at a UPS Access Point location during the store's hours.

There are nearly 300 UPS Access Point locations in New York City and Chicago with more locations being added each week. As part of the UPS Access Point network, UPS is installing self-service smart lockers in metropolitan Chicago.

In January 2015, the company plans to add all 4,400 The UPS Store locations throughout the U.S. to the UPS Access Point network.

Currently, there are more than 12,000 UPS Access Point locations in seven European countries. UPS expects to have 20,000 locations in key markets throughout Europe and the Americas by the end of 2015.

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