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Best Buy expands health and fitness offerings

BY CSA STAFF

Minnepolis — Best Buy Co. said Friday it is expanding its health-and-wellness offerings to 600 stores nationwide.

The products, which include heart-rate monitoring watches, pedometers, yoga mats, scales and blood pressure monitors, have been tested by Best Buy in 40 stores in multiple markets and will now undergo rollout.

In its most recent quarter, Best Buy’s net income fell 4%, and revenue dipped 1% to $217 million.

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Best Buy gets into health and fitness

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS – Best Buy announced that it is introducing health and fitness products at 600 Best Buy stores across the country and online at Bestbuy.com.Available products include personal gear related to running, walking, swimming and yoga as well as other fitness accessories.

Best Buy’s national expansion follows a pilot program launched a year ago, during which the company tested a broad selection of health and fitness gear in 40 stores in select markets.

“We were encouraged by the enthusiastic response we saw from our customers during the initial pilot of these health and fitness products,” said Chris Koller, VP portable electronics solutions group at Best Buy. “We clearly tapped into a desire for Best Buy to provide the latest and greatest technology to enhance health regimens, and to help people discover how they can integrate these devices with other personal technology to monitor and share their progress, and to stay motivated.”

The products will be housed in a30-foot-long in-store health and fitness presentation area enables consumers to sample many of these devices before they buy, the company reported. On display are state-of-the-art heart rate monitoring watches, pedometers, special MP3 players, earbuds, headphones, yoga mats, scales, blood pressure monitors and other products from leading manufacturers such as Gaiam, GoFit, H2O Audio, MIO, Polar, Sportline and Yurbuds.

Consumers interested in health and fitness products will have access to trained Best Buy Blue Shirts to help them better understand how technology can support their personal wellness, the company reported.

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An EDLP indignity in toys

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart has been a non-player in toys this year, according to Eric Johnson, director of the Center for Digital Strategies at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. He was quoted in a Bloomberg article this week about how Walmart increased toy prices after Thanksgiving weekend. Johnson is regarded as something of a toy expert, so he pops up in holiday stories and he has been critical of Walmart this year. “Most of their hot toys are out of stock and the stuff that is there is not low-priced,” Johnson was quoted as saying in the Bloomberg piece that was based on an email sent to store managers a few days after Thanksgiving advising them to mark up prices on 1,800 items.

Harsh words from an academic in New Hampshire aren’t surprising and there is some truth to the in-stock and pricing comments. However, it is absurd to suggest that Walmart, the nation’s largest toy retailer, somehow in just one year has become a non-player in the category.

Prices go up and down in the retail industry all the time, even at a retailer attempting to reassert itself as a destination for every day low prices, and Bloomberg caught Walmart in the midst of a routine process as it readjusted temporary price cuts. Gotcha! A bit of sensationalism perhaps, but this is Walmart, it is the holidays and we’re talking about the toy category. Walmart doesn’t issue press releases when it raises prices, only when it lowers them, and to be seen taking prices up, even if there is a logical explanation, just doesn’t look good. After all, Walmart is a company that often portrays itself as a champion of the consumer, an organization whose size and relentless quest for efficiency uniquely qualifies it to help people save money so they can live better.

To make matters worse, Walmart has not been the low price leader in the toy category this holiday season, according to various pricing studies and media reports. Walmart has been competitive with its toy prices, but it hasn’t been the clear cut leader in pricing studies the way it so often is on the grocery side of the business. “Save money, live better.” rings hollow during the holidays when shoppers can find better deals on toys at retailers other than Walmart without undue effort.

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