FINANCE

Gap February sales fall

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco – Gap Inc. had a disappointing February 2014 as net sales and same-store sales declined, compared to the same month in the prior year. Net sales fell 4% to $929 million from $966 million, while same-store sales dropped 7%.

Same-store sales decreased at all three major Gap global store banners, falling 10% at Gap, 7% at Banana Republic, and 6% at Old Navy. The company noted that more than 450 stores experienced closures during February due to weather. The company also noted that February typically represents the smallest month of the first quarter.

“While February was clearly a difficult month, we remain focused on executing our global priorities,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO, Gap Inc.

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MasterCard and Visa form group to accelerate payment security

BY CSA STAFF

MasterCard and Visa have teamed up to form a new cross-industry group focused on enhancing payment system security to keep pace with the expectations of consumers, retailers and financial institutions.

News of the group’s formation comes as retailers like Target continue to deal with fallout from the data breaches that first came to light December 2013 and which continue to dominate headlines.

The group will initially focus on the adoption of EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip technology in the United States, in addition to addressing other security-related topics, including tokenization, point-to-point encryption and broader needs of the region.

“One of the critical roles we play is to protect consumers and businesses against criminals and fraudsters,” said Chris McWilton, president of North American Markets, MasterCard. "Only through industry collaboration and cooperation will we address the real and immediate issue of security and maintain consumer confidence and trust. EMV will be the next step in these efforts, alongside enhanced security solutions for online and mobile channels.”

This group will include a diverse group of participants in the payments systems including banks of all sizes, credit unions, acquirers, retailers, point-of-sale device manufacturers and industry trade groups.

“The recent high-profile breaches have served as a catalyst for much needed collaboration between the retail and financial services industry on the issue of payment security,” said Ryan McInerney, president, Visa. “As we have long said, no one industry or technology can solve the issue of payment system fraud on its own. These conversations will serve as a useful forum to share ideas, break down barriers and spur the adoption of next generation security solutions for the benefit of all.”

MasterCard and Visa expect the group tol complement and engage with other efforts across the industry, including proprietary risk councils, EMV task forces and the standard management bodies.

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FINANCE

Report: February sales grow 0.7%

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco — Shopper activity cooled off in February 2014 as a result of extremely cold weather across the country. According to in-store retail analytics provider Euclid, analysis of data from tens of millions of domestic shopping sessions indicates that general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other (GAFO) retail sales grew by a modest 0.7% year-over-year.

Euclid said that these metrics illustrate a weak outlook for industry revenues. Overall, retailers did well to keep shoppers engaged in physical stores during a month that typically sees less interest in robust browsing, yet consumers kept nonessential trips to a minimum during spells of cold weather.

Here are some of Euclid’s top findings in this month’s report around standard traffic metrics:

• Shopper traffic declined 3% compared to the same month last year, as visits were negatively impacted cold weather and storms across much of the country for the majority of the month.

• Storefront conversion was up nearly 1% as a result of the heavily promotional environment and depressed outside activity.

• Bounce rate increased 2% from the prior year as more shopping trips were quick and focused, but overall shopping session duration was in line with 2013.

Shoppers also behaved differently around February’s two holidays: Presidents’ Day and Valentine’s Day. The best shopping day of the month was Monday, Feb. 24, which saw the best in-store shopper engagement – average duration was greater than 25 minutes. The worst day of the month was Wednesday, Feb. 19, which saw a significant slowdown in activity following the long Presidents’ Day holiday weekend and was plagued by particularly low storefront conversion and a high bounce rate.

Valentine’s Day did not have nearly the positive impact on shopping activity this year compared to last year. Cold, stormy weather and the growing ease of online fulfillment drove an increasing amount of Valentine’s Day related shopping to online e-tailers and away from the physical store, resulting in 10% less store traffic year-over-year for the week preceding the holiday.

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