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MasterCard Advisors: Hurricane Sandy takes a bite out of early November sales

BY Marianne Wilson

Purchase, N.Y. — Spending in most of the key holiday categories, for the first two weeks of the retail month of November was down on a year-over-year basis, according to a SpendingPulse report released by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard. Apparel and luxury (excluding jewelry) were particularly hard hit, both showing year-over-year declines in the high 7% range.

Jewelry, a category that has recently shown signs of making a comeback, was up mildly, and ecommerce gained at a modest clip. The dip in early November runs contrary to both September and October, when SpendingPulse recorded that spending was up in nine of 11 categories for both months.

“Our research shows that Sandy clearly depressed the start to the early holiday season with the storm significantly impacting the year-over-year growth rates in key holiday categories over the first week of November. By the end of the second week, there were signs of a bounce back in several categories,” said Michael McNamara, Global Solutions Leader, MasterCard SpendingPulse.

For the pre-season period Oct. 28 through Nov.10, women’s apparel sales were down 6.3% against the same period last year. For the week that included Sandy, Women’s Apparel sales were down over 9% This number is a deceleration from October’s 5.8% year over year gain.

In the electronics category for the period through Nov. 10, sales fell 3.4% reversing October’s 2.4% increase.

“Black Friday is traditionally the largest day of the year for electronics with sales well over $1 billion. This “season in a day” can be almost twice as large as the next busiest day of the year which typically occurs later in December,” noted McNamara.

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Toys ‘R’ Us strengthens global e-commerce capabilities

BY Staff Writer

Wayne, N.J. – Toys “R” Us announced it has strengthened its global e-commerce capabilities with the launch of a dedicated web store in China. The company also announced the development of mobile-optimized sites and apps in 11 markets around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the U.K. In the coming months, the retailer will introduce the same capabilities in Portugal, Austria and Switzerland, as well as the Netherlands, where it does not currently have a store presence.

“With the launch of our new e-commerce site in China and the addition of mobile shopping capabilities in our international markets, Toys “R” Us is more accessible now than ever before to customers around the globe,” said Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO, Toys “R” Us, Inc. “These initiatives help us advance the company’s international growth and omnichannel strategies, while allowing more customers to shop with us whenever, wherever and however they choose.”

In 2010 and 2011, Toys “R” Us, Inc. experienced double digit growth in its global e-commerce business, and generated $1 billion in online sales last year.

Toys “R” Us’ new mobile capabilities in Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Japan, Australia, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the U.K., include a mobile-optimized website and dedicated applications for iOS and Android. Tablet-optimized sites will be available in select markets, as well. Users have the ability to navigate seamlessly between Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us, allowing them to browse and shop a wide selection of toy and juvenile products as easily on-the-go as they can from their homes.

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The Finish Line accelerates omnichannel commerce with Demandware

BY Staff Writer

Burlington, Mass. — Demandware announced that The Finish Line has launched new e-commerce and mobile commerce sites on the Demandware Commerce platform. The initiative is part of the retailer’s strategic move to a cloud-based digital commerce solution to power its omnichannel strategy. The company will also use Demandware to power Run.com, a specialty brand that focuses on all things running.

The Finish Line’s aggressive omnichannel growth initiatives drove its decision to move away from legacy in-house managed software to Demandware’s flexible and scalable cloud-based solution. With Demandware, Finish Line has a customizable digital commerce platform that enables users to execute highly branded, personalized and consistent consumer experiences across channels. Dermandware’s cloud model eliminates the burden of infrastructure management and provides merchants and marketers with complete control over the user experience and site functionality, empowering them to drive innovation and growth, and accelerate time-to-market.

“Our goal is to transform our business, not just maintain it. We want to drive innovation and propel the business. Demandware reduces operational complexity and puts the power in the hands of our users to create world-class brand experiences. It provides customers a better and faster online experience, rather than having technology get in the way,” said Chris Ladd, executive VP and chief digital officer for Finish Line, which operates more than 640 stores.

The new finishline.com features a new design and enhanced user experience, including:

  • The ability to buy online and pick up at a Finish Line store location;
  • Real-time product inventory information provides accurate availability updates;
  • A mobile shopping site that leverages Responsive Web Design to optimally display on devices;
  • Seamless integration of Finish Line’s Winner’s Circle loyalty program into the shopping cart lets consumers view their points balance at checkout;
  • Enhanced brand landing pages showcase brand-specific content, such as products, offers, promotions, videos and blog posts;
  • Streamlined navigation and search functionality helps consumers locate products more quickly and efficiently; and
  • Flash sales provide exclusive access to new, high-demand merchandise.

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