REAL ESTATE

ICSC: Omnichannel wins, with physical stores at epicenter

BY Marianne Wilson

A just-released holiday survey reinforces the dominance of the omnichannel shopper.

Nearly one-third (32%) of shoppers the past holiday season used the click and collect method – with 69% of these shoppers purchasing additional items in the store when they went to pick up the item and 36% making another purchase in an adjacent store, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Holiday Consumer Purchasing Trends study.

What’s more, 60% of holiday shoppers used their mobile device while shopping in a store to do such things as compare prices, check availability and view reviews/ratings. And 56% of holiday shoppers researched products before they even entered the store.

"Looking back at the holiday season, the major trend that emerged is the prevalence of the omnichannel consumer and the resulting convergence among brick and mortar and digital retail," said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. "The story of bricks vs. clicks is an old one. The story is now one of a shopper getting the best of both worlds, using online research and capabilities to inform physical purchases.

Brick-and-mortar also fared well in the survey, which reported that 91% of consumers shopped in physical stores during the holiday season. Seeing, touching, and trying on merchandise was cited the number one reason to shop in store (32%), followed by the ability to browse (26%), and the ability to get the item right away (24%).

“The American consumer has sent a clear message that the physical store remains at the epicenter of the shopping experience,” McGee said.

In other survey findings:

• Forty percent of shoppers say they spent more this season than in 2014, with 33% spending the same this season. Only 23% said they spent less than last year.

• Shoppers like the ease of returning and exchanging products in store, with 20% of shoppers electing to shop in-store because of this advantage.

• On average, 62% of holiday shoppers spent on gift cards, with an average spend of $145. Of those that received a gift card, February or later (43%) is the most likely time for them to redeem it, followed by January (39%) and the last week of December (18%).

• Forty-eight percent of holiday shoppers made a purchase in the apparel/footwear and electronics/devices categories this holiday season.

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FINANCE

Walgreens sells 56 Chicago-area clinics to Advocate Health Care

BY Michael Johnsen

Walgreens and Advocate Health Care on Monday announced Advocate will own and operate the 56 Healthcare Clinics at Walgreens stores across the greater Chicagoland area. The retail clinics will function as part of Advocate and will be branded as Advocate Clinic at Walgreens, with the first clinic opening under the Advocate banner in May 2016.

“Advocate Clinic at Walgreens expands Advocate's care delivery locations to provide more options for patients and meet the needs of consumers in an evolving health care environment,” stated Lee Sacks, Advocate’s chief medical officer and executive VP. “With Walgreens’ unmatched footprint coupled with our leading clinical expertise and commitment to delivering high quality, affordable healthcare, more patients will have access to the best care when and where they need it.”

For Walgreens, the agreement aligns with a two-pronged growth strategy for its retail clinics, which includes investing in its core business and expanding services to build a strong and viable model for future growth, while also developing deeper, more innovative approaches with health systems.

In August 2015, Walgreens and Providence Health & Services announced a strategic clinical collaboration aimed at coordinating patient care and improving patient access, which plans to bring up to 25 new retail clinics to Oregon and Washington. The clinics will be owned and operated by Providence and its affiliates, and were the first to open at Walgreens stores under a new collaborative services model. '

“Advocate shares our commitment to delivering extraordinary, personalized patient care, and is a nationally recognized health system that, like Walgreens, has been serving Chicagoland communities for more than 100 years,” said Pat Carroll, chief medical officer for Walgreens Healthcare Clinics. “We believe this approach will help ensure a true continuum of care for patients and their providers," he said. "This is also an emphasis for our Walgreens-managed clinics, where we continue to make investments, such as a new EHR platform, to offer patient benefits through a variety of convenient care options.”

Walgreens currently operates on-site pharmacy locations at three Advocate hospitals, with plans to expand to three more Advocate hospitals in the near future.

Advocate Clinic at Walgreens will be staffed with board-certified nurse practitioners employed by, trained by and supervised by Advocate Medical Group. Advocate’s intention is to attempt to hire its initial workforce from among the employees currently working at Walgreens’ clinic locations.

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FINANCE

Christmas shoppers flock to Ollie’s Bargain Outlet

BY Gina Acosta

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is raising its full year outlook after the discount retailer holiday strategy delievered strong sales growth.

The company annouced that net sales over the holidays increased 23%, while same store sales increased 5.6%.

“We are thrilled with our holiday sales results and the trends in the business over the past few months," said Mark Butler, chairman, president and CEO. "Everyone across the Ollie’s team, from buying, distribution, store operations and the field personnel, did a phenomenal job executing the business and delivering popular branded products at exceptional closeout prices. Our customers know a bargain when they see it, and they responded very favorably to our product offering over the nine week period. We saw strong sales momentum throughout the holiday season, including the week of Black Friday, Ollie’s Army Night, and the weeks before and after Christmas. We are excited by the strong results and momentum of the business heading into a new fiscal year.”

Based on the trends to date, the company now estimates the following results for the fiscal year ending Jan. 30:

  • Total net sales to increase approximately 19% to $760 million;
  • Same-store sales growth of approximately 5.5%;
  • Net income to increase approximately 37% to $37 million, or 4.9% of net sales;
  • Net income per diluted share (GAAP) of approximately $0.66 based on an estimated weighted diluted average shares outstanding of approximately 56.3 million; and
  • Adjusted net income to increase approximately 42% to $39 million and adjusted diluted earnings per share of approximately $0.69. Adjusted net income and adjusted diluted earnings per share exclude the loss on the extinguishment of debt and transaction related expenses.

Ollie's currently operate 202 store locations in 17 states across the Eastern half of the United States.

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