MOBILITY

Amazon still exploring ‘cashier-less’ checkout projects

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Don’t expect Amazon to stop experimenting with cashier-less grocery stores anytime soon.

Despite announcing in June it would acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, the online giant will continue evolving its Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go concepts, among other efforts. Its goal: to reinvent the way consumers shop for food, according to Business Insider.

According to the report, Amazon officials said the company is still determining how customers want to shop for groceries. Until they learn which solutions make sense, Amazon has no plans to shut down any of its current experiments in grocery sales and delivery.

“We'll see how the customers respond. We believe there will be no one solution,” Brian Olsavsky, Amazon's chief financial officer, said on the company’s second quarter earnings call.

The online giant experienced big sales for the quarter, but they weren't enough to offset a big drop in earnings. Net income for the second quarter, ended June 30, was $197 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, compared with net income of $857 million, or $1.78 per diluted share, in second quarter 2016. Earnings also drastically missed analyst expectations of $1.42 per share, according to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters.

Net sales climbed 25% to $38.0 billion, compared with $30.4 billion in the second quarter of 2016. Excluding the $502 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 26% compared with second quarter 2016.

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FINANCE

NRF continues to lobby for healthcare improvements

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Despite the failure of a “skinny” repeal healthcare bill in the Senate, the National Retail Federation remains committed to fixing the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate defeated a "skinny repeal" bill designed to repeal and replace Obamacare early Friday morning. The proposed legislation promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual and employer mandates, and temporarily repeal the medical device tax. The bill would have also given states more flexibility to allow insurance that doesn't comply with Obamacare regulations.

However, the bill was defeated — a move that disappointed the NRF, due to the fact that the Affordable Care Act continues to adversely influence staffing patterns. It also discourages full-time employment and drive up consumer prices, according to NRF VP for Health Care Policy Neil Trautwein.

“It was very disappointing to come so close on even a limited bill, but we will use our disappointment to fuel our push on incremental improvements that will lead to a better health care law,” Trautwein said. “While repeal remains the ultimate goal, there are many ways to reduce the burdens of this flawed law for the benefit of employers and workers alike. This fight is far from over.”

NRF opposed enactment of the ACA in 2010, and has worked since then to reduce cost burdens and ease compliance requirements. Among other changes, NRF has sought to restore the definition of “full-time” workers who large company must provide with health insurance to 40 hours a week rather than 30, to fix reporting requirements and roll back ACA taxes.

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FINANCE

Staples is one step closer to being acquired

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Staples met the first requirement on its road back to private ownership.

The office supplies giant, which is being acquired by private equity firm Sycamore Partners, has been granted early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. This act states that no merger or acquisition can take place until the United States Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have determined that the filed transaction will not violate U.S. commerce antitrust laws.

The termination of the waiting period under the HSR Act satisfies one of the conditions to the closing of the pending acquisition. The deal remains subject to other customary closing conditions, including Staples’ stock-holder approval.

Staples announced in June that Sycamore Partners acquired the for $10.25 per share for cash. The deal is valued at about $6.9 billion. The deal is set to close in December.

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