FINANCE

Canada’s Supreme Court rules against Wal-Mart over store closing

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Wal-Mart violated Quebec labor law by closing its store in Jonquiere, Quebec, in 2005.

In a 5-2 decision announced on Friday, the court ruled that the 190 employees who were terminated when the store was closed are entitled to compensation, according to CBC Montreal.

The closing came shortly after the United Food and Commercial Workers union was certified to represent the store’s workers in 2004. The store eventually closed in spring 2005, putting the 190 employees out of work. Wal-Mart said the store was not profitable. It has maintained that it did not close the store because it was being unionized.

This marked the union’s second time at bringing the retail giant into court over the store closing. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the employees’ freedom of association rights were not violated when the company decided to close the store.

In 2013, however, the union filed a new appeal with the Supreme Court in which it argued that Wal-Mart violated a provision of the Quebec labor code by changing the workers’ conditions of employment without consent while the terms of the collective agreement were being negotiated, the report said. The court found Wal-Mart did not adequately prove the four-year-old store was in financial difficulty.

The court sent the case to an arbitrator to determine remedies, which will likely include compensation for the workers.

"We will review the decision carefully in order to determine what our next steps will be," Alex Roberton, Wal-Mart Canada’s director of corporate affairs, said in an email to CBC Montreal.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

IBM study: Mobile to play major role in online holiday shopping

BY Dan Berthiaume

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Armonk, N.Y. – Mobile will continue to play a significant and dominating role in online shopping this holiday season. According to the IBM Retail Holiday Readiness Report, mobile sales for both smartphones and tablets reached a high of 19.1% of all site sales in December 2013, up three-fold from December 2011.

Mobile site traffic reached a record of 38.2% in March 2014, more than double that of March 2012. As a result, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark predicts these figures to continue to rise, with mobile accounting for more than 20% of site sales and more than 43% of site traffic to come November 2014.

To succeed this holiday season, IBM advises that retailers will need to pay attention to both device type and operating system to better focus their mobile app and analytics investments, while at the same time ensuring a flawless customer experience between devices and operating systems.

Other highlights of the report, compiled from the cloud-based IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, include:

• Consumers spending more dollars online: Average order value (AOV) and items per order both reached new three-year highs according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. In terms of online spending, increases in AOV and items per order suggest retailers are savvier than ever when it comes to delivering a streamlined online shopping experience – making it easy for consumers to find items and providing an enticing brand experience. To capitalize on this trend, heading into the holidays, retailers will need to rely on personalization and cross-sell recommendations to further strengthen customer relationships and wallets, the report said.

• Consumer attention spans dwindle: Fueled by the growth of mobile users, who make quick visits to retail sites, online retailers saw average time on site sink to a new low in September 2013 of just 7:09. Page views per session also hit a new bottom of 6.93 in March 2014, two fewer pages than the same period in 2012.

For retailers, this means that, ultimately, shoppers have little tolerance for poor customer experiences – if they can’t find what they need, they’re moving on.

To ensure a seamless customer experience this holiday, marketers should consider investing in customer experience management technologies to identify customer struggle and quickly resolve onsite problems, which can lead to lost revenue, according to the report. And to enhance the visitor experience, marketers and retailers might consider improving site navigation, providing useful content like how-to guides and user forums, as well as ensuring a consistent brand image across channels.

Click here for the full report.

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FINANCE

Finish Line Q1 profit doubles; sales boosted by online and in-store Macy’s shops

BY Marianne Wilson

Indianapolis — The Finish Line’s first-quarter profit more than doubled as the retailer expanded its presence online and in Macy’s stores nationwide. Its results topped Wall Street estimates.

The retailer reported a profit of $12.4 million, compared to $5.1 million in the year-ago period. Revenue was up 16% to $406.5 million. Same-store sales increased 5%.

“We are very pleased with the strong start to fiscal 2015 we delivered in the first quarter,” said Glenn Lyon, Finish Line chairman and CEO. “The integration of our store and digital operations is allowing us to deliver great product and service to consumers in a seamless fashion no matter what channel they choose to shop. At the same time, we are reaching new consumers and expanding market share through our growing relationship with Macy’s. We are confident that our multidivisional, omnichannel strategies will strengthen our market position and drive growth in sales and earnings, allowing us to return increased value to our shareholders in the years ahead.”

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