OPERATIONS

Kronos Retail Labor Index hits three-year high

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chelmsford, Mass. — A report released Thursday by Kronos Inc. found that hiring in the retail sector continues to make marked improvements. The Kronos Retail Labor Index, which analyzes the current state of the demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector, rose to 4.2% in November 2011, from a downwardly revised 3.5% in October. This was the highest reading since October 2008 and the second reading of 4% or higher in the last three months.

The Index is defined as the ratio of hires to applicants within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.

“This increase in November hires relative to the recent trend could suggest that retailers are cautiously optimistic about upcoming holiday sales,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which analyzes the data.

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample made 34,491 hires (seasonally adjusted) in November 2011, up 7.1% from a downwardly revised 32,205 hires in October 2011. The level of hires in November was roughly 8% above the 2010 average, continuing to indicate modest improvement following sharp declines during the recession.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample declined 10.8% to 812,673 in November 2011, from an upwardly revised 911,552 in October 2011.

The 60-day retention rate, measured as the number of hires who remain employed for at least the first 60 days divided by the total number of hires made in that month, edged up to 84.4% in July from 83.3% in June.

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Report: Mobile shopping to grow during holiday season

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Boston — A new survey by website technology company Modapt and communications firm Morrissey & Co., evaluating mobile phone users’ holiday shopping habits and plans, found that more than half of respondents are making purchases using their mobile devices. Nearly one quarter of those surveyed have used mobile devices in the past to purchase holiday gifts.

The results also show that during the holiday season:

  • Fifty-six percent of respondents had made a purchase from their mobile phone;
  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents will use their mobile phone to compare prices while shopping;
  • Forty-eight percent will use their mobile phone to find store locations that carry the products they seek; and
  • Ninety percent of those who had made a mobile purchase said that convenience was a major factor, and 47% said ease of use was a primary reason they had made a purchase.

In addition, 66% of the mobile users said they will be enticed to use their phones to make purchases if retailers offer mobile incentives, and 46% said better price offers would convince them to make a mobile purchase.

“Consumers are more likely to do their shopping via mobile when it is convenient and when there are good incentives,” said Mark Lederhos, co-founder and CEO of Modapt. “Responsive retailers will respond in turn by making their mobile sites more enticing, easy to use and accessible, and by offering unique content and deals.”

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OPERATIONS

Survey: Promotional emails drive Thanksgiving holiday sales

BY Katherine Boccaccio

San Bruno, Calif. — A report released Thursday by email and cross-channel marketing solution provider Responsys found that promotional email marketing volume during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend hit an all-time high, helping to drive significant increases in online sales.

“Over the five day holiday weekend, promotional email volume sent by major retailers was up 27% year-over-year, with Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday all seeing record email volumes,” said Chad White, research director at Responsys. “Retailers are making email marketing central to their cross-channel marketing efforts this holiday season like never before, and the record online sales results speak for themselves.”

Some 87% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email to their subscribers on Cyber Monday this year, up from 77% last year and making it the largest email marketing day of the year for the fifth consecutive year. That email volume increase helped propel Cyber Monday online sales to a new all-time high, up 33% year-over-year and shattering last year’s record of $1.03 billion, according to IBM Coremetrics.

This year, 81% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Black Friday, making it the second busiest promotional email day on record behind this year’s Cyber Monday. Last year, 69% of retailers sent emails on Black Friday. That increase in email volume helped drive significant gains in online sales, which jumped 24.3% compared to Black Friday 2010, according to IBM Coremetrics.

“This year’s Black Friday email marketing campaigns were much more focused on buying online than in past years, with even large store-based retailers like J.C. Penney and Office Depot promoting their online sales just as prominently as their in-store sales,” said White.

This year, 75% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Thanksgiving Day, up from 60% last year and only 45% in 2009. That increase supported a huge leap in online sales, which rose 39.3% compared with Thanksgiving Day 2010, according to IBM Coremetrics.

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