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IBM Retail User Group changes name

BY Staff Writer

Strongsville, Ohio — The International Retail User Group, formerly the IBM Retail User Group, said Tuesday that the organization’s name has been officially changed to the “International Retail User Group.”

On Aug. 1, IBM announced the initial closing of the acquisition of IBM’s Retail Store Solutions business and the formation of Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions Holding Co. and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions. With the newly formed subsidiaries, Toshiba Tec has become the world’s leading integrated in-store solutions company, offering products and solutions that provide new value to customers.

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Pepsico taps Washington insider for public policy job

BY CSA STAFF

Alan Hoffman, former deputy chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, is the new SVP of global public policy and government affairs at PepsiCo.

In his role on Biden’s staff, Hoffman was responsible for the long-term planning and day-to-day operations of the vice president’s office. In that role, he provided policy, political, communications, legislative, and legal advice to the vice president, cabinet members and administration staff. Those skills and connections should come in handy during the next four years as the global CPG giant PepsiCo navigates the political complexity and regulatory maze that is Washington D.C.

"Alan is a proven leader who brings tremendous experience and expertise to PepsiCo," said Larry Thompson, EVP of government affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary at PepsiCo. "Alan is well-versed in a wide range of public policy issues and widely respected across all levels of government, and we look forward to benefiting from his leadership."

Prior to his most recent position, Hoffman served as chief of staff when Biden was a senator from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2006 to 2008. He was also senior presidential campaign advisor and chief operating officer to Biden during the transition following the 2008 presidential election. 

Hoffman previously served as SVP for external relations for the University of California, directing strategy, communications, marketing, advocacy, government relations, fundraising and community relations for the 10 campuses, five medical centers and three national labs that comprise the UC system. He also spent time as a partner at Timmons & Company, a Washington, D.C. government relations and consulting firm, and as vice president for external relations at the RAND Corporation.

Earlier in his career, Hoffman served in the Clinton White House working on health policy issues. In addition, he worked in the Department of Health and Human Services as special assistant to the assistant secretary for legislative affairs and in the Department of Justice as special counsel to the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs.  He also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia, where he prosecuted federal crimes for the Justice Department.

Hoffman replaces Dan Bryant, who was recently named chair of the public policy and government affairs practice at Covington & Burling.

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All clear for Black Friday

BY CSA STAFF

The busiest shopping weekend of the year is just around the corner and retailers who don’t hit their sales plan won’t be able to blame the weather.

Conditions nationwide Thanksgiving weekend are expected to be near ideal, according to the weather intelligence firm Planalytics. On the heels of Superstorm Sandy and a recent Nor’Easter, consumers are ‘weather weary’ and looking for a respite from the extreme weather conditions, according to the firm. After a nice upcoming weekend for most, East Coast residents may be bracing for another round of rough weather early to mid-week.  A storm system moving through the Southeast and up the East Coast Monday through Wednesday looks to bring periods of heavy rain and strong winds although generally limited to coastal areas. This is likely to impact those still cleaning up from Sandy’s aftermath. Some snow is possible in higher elevations. 
Planalytics said it expects conditions to improve just in time for the Black Friday weekend. Temperatures in the East and Midwest will trend cooler than normal and much cooler compared to a very warm Black Friday last year. Businesses can anticipate these cooler conditions to continue with a generally drier trend right through the holiday weekend.  Interior locations are expected to trend warmer than normal, but still cooler than last year. The strongest possibility for rain will be in the Pacific Northwest, no surprise there, extending down towards San Francisco, with snowfall limited to higher elevations. Most western locations will trend near to slightly cooler than normal, according to Planalytics.
Based on the cooler year-over-year temperatures, weather will help drive demand for seasonal gift-giving categories including sweaters, jackets, boots, scarves, hats, and gloves. Overall foot traffic into malls and shopping centers should be similar to slightly favorable compared to last year.

That’s good news for retailers who are heading into the holidays with the usual amount of uncertainty about spending levels and projections that call for a deceleration in growth when compared to the prior year.

According to the National Retail Federation, Black Friday weekend last year accounted for a record 226 million shoppers, including 29 million consumers who reportedly hit the store on Thanksgiving night. While Black Friday represents the largest volume day of the weekend, the remaining days of the weekend also see significant amounts of foot traffic. In addition, Cyber Monday, which falls on the first workday following Thanksgiving, represents the ceremonial kickoff to the online holiday shopping season. Last year, according to the NRF, approximately 123 million shoppers were looking to make a purchase online, with an estimated $1.25 billion spent.

Those who don’t hit stores Thanksgiving weekend willl have plenty of time to go shopping as Thanksgiving falls on November 22, the earliest date possible, which will result in the greatest number of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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