OPERATIONS

Report: Amazon has best price 80% of the time

BY Dan Berthiaume

Ottawa, Canada – Amazon.com has the best price on products in its assortment about 80% of the time. However, the new “Amazon Holiday Pricing Insights” analysis from pricing technology provider 360pi shows that Amazon does have weak spots, and that retailers can compete with the online giant, especially if they can beat Amazon on other non-price purchase factors.

For example, once Home Depot decided to be price competitive on Oct. 26, they were instantly and dynamically able to beat Amazon prices on power drills. Meanwhile, tablets and televisions are the categories where a majority of retailers are either price competitive or closer to the mark than other categories, such as printers and video games, which show the least amount of price competitiveness.

Top retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Sears and Costco are less than 5% more, or better priced, than Amazon in televisions, for example. During the Oct. 16 – Nov. 14 period, Amazon had the lowest-priced tablets 68% of the time, which means retailers are currently beating Amazon with lower tablet prices 32% of the time.

“Given that our holiday reports are based on products drawn from Amazon’s own assortment, you would expect them to be price competitive,” said Alexander Rink, CEO, 360pi. “What is interesting is that when you factor in different retail competitive strategies like carrying a different assortment, leveraging private label, delivering targeted customer promotions, and creating unique customer experiences in addition to price leadership, it certainly appears that retailers are learning how to compete with Amazon.”

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STORE SPACES

Macy’s Herald Square’s unveils revamped beauty department

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Macy’s Herald Square store has taken the wraps off a dramatic makeover of its beauty and fragrances department. Re-fashioned within a brand-new 24,000-sq.-ft. space, the new department includes brand new counters, shops and bars for brows, blow-outs and nails.

“Beauty is always one of the most dynamic businesses and departments at Macy’s Herald Square,” said Muriel Gonzalez, executive VP/general merchandise manager for cosmetics, fragrances and shoes. “With the renovation of our flagship store, we were able to completely re-imagine the space devoted to all things beauty, allowing us to bring in luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Hermes, La Mer, Laura Mercier, Jo Malone London and Tom Ford, and for the first time, layer in salon services for nails, brows and hair all in one location.”

Redesigned with new architectural accents and structural elements, the department is framed by two sets of sweeping marble staircases along both the 34th and 35th Street sides of the store. And for the first time, show windows along 34th Street have been opened to provide vistas from the street into the store.

The interior space, which has a modern design aesthetics and a sleek, modern sensibility, includes a new Kiehl’s shop complete with its signature motorcycle display and an outpost for Blow, the New York Blow Dry Bar Express, and a Benefit’s Brow Bar.

Women’s fragrances complete the makeover with a move to its new location on the 35th Street side of the Broadway building. The Fragrance Bar is framed by a 7-ft. by 10-ft. LED screen featuring the latest launches from the world of fragrances.

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REAL ESTATE

Couche-Tard in deals to acquire 36 U.S. stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Laval, Quebec City — Canadian convenience store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. announced t it has signed, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Circle K Stores Inc., an agreement with Albuquerque Convenience and Retail to acquire 23 stores in New Mexico. Albuquerque Convenience and Retail is subsidiary of Phillips 66 Company.

In addition Couche-Tard has signed an agreement, also through Circle K Stores, with Publix Super Markets Inc. to acquire 13 stores, 11 of which are located in the state of Florida and the other two in state of Georgia. Both transactions are expected to close in December 2013.

The sites in New Mexico are currently operated as Circle K branded franchises. Couche-Tard’s Southwest division would operate all 23 of them under the Circle K brand and continue to offer Phillips 66 branded motor fuel. Seventeen sites are equipped with car washes. Pursuant to this transaction, Couche-Tard would buy the land and buildings for 22 locations and would assume or enter into leases for the remaining location.

"Subsequent to this transaction, our network in the Southwest division would include a total of 271 company operated-stores and 6 locations under wholesale or franchise agreements. These stores occupy strategic locations within their respective trade areas. Strategically, this acquisition would be a great addition to our expansion and growth plans for the Southwest division." commented Lou Valdes, VP, operations, Southwest Division.

The stores in Florida and Georgia are currently operated under the PIX brand. They would be converted to the Circle K brand.

"Subsequent to this transaction, our networks in the Florida division would include a total of 414 company operated-stores and the Southeast division would include a total of 279 company operated-stores. These stores occupy strategic locations within their respective trade areas. Strategically, these acquisitions would be a great addition to our expansion and growth plans for these divisions." commented Butch Seber, VP, real estate development.

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