News

Report: Department store retailer keeps holiday hiring plans under wraps

BY CSA STAFF

Don’t expect to hear specifics about Kohl’s holiday workforce any time soon.

Unlike other chains, including Target and Macy’s, that have announced their plans to hire thousands of temporary workers during the holiday season, Kohl’s is not discussing the number of seasonal hires its will make, according to CNBC.

The chain did confirm it will hire “some seasonal staff.” However, it is more focused on giving additional hours to its current workforce — a group that it has been bolstering all year, the report said.

Walmart made a similar move last week when it announced it would give extra hours — and train — existing employees for both traditional roles, including cashier and stocker, as well as newly created technology-empowered positions, such as personal shoppers and Pickup associates.

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News

Party goods retailer bolsters store fleet with Halloween pop-up shops

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Party City is getting ready for the Halloween rush.

The party goods retailer plans to open up more than 270 Halloween City pop-up stores during its make-or-break season. These locations will bring the company’s store fleet up to more than 1,200 Party City and Halloween City retail outlets.

Party City is also currently bulking up its staff for the season, and hiring approximately 25,000 temporary employees. This is less than last year, when the company hired 35,000 seasonal associates.

“Consumers’ continuing search for uniqueness has really influenced Halloween costume shopping,” said Party City CEO Jim Harrison. “We believe that Party City, both online and in our stores, offers the widest assortment of costumes and accessories, allowing consumers to differentiate themselves.”

Party City Holdco, which designs, manufactures, sources and distributes party goods, operates more than 900 specialty retail party supply stores (including approximately 150 franchise stores) throughout North America operating under the names Party City and Halloween City, and e-commerce websites, principally through the domain name PartyCity.com.

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ECOMMERCE

Survey: Most shoppers will visit stores this holiday season

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Unfazed by store closures, shoppers plan to get most of their holiday shopping done in-store this year.

Nearly three-quarters of consumers (71%) plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping in physical stores — the same percentage from a similar poll a year ago. Additionally, the vast majority (88%) plan to at least visit stores this holiday season.

This was according to a new survey from global business-advisory firm Alixpartners. The study is based on responses from more than 1,000 U.S. consumers.

Retailers face a host of complex and demanding trends this holiday season, including some related to recent store closures around the country. For instance, nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents said they’ve been personally affected by store closures — specifically, that a store they “visit frequently” has closed in the past 12 months. Of that number, 20% are those earning $100,000 a year or more, the kind of high-earners most retailers yearn for.

Only 6% of all respondents said that if a store they frequently visit closed or closes, they’ll no longer make their purchase. However, a third (36%) of impacted consumers said they would instead shop at a competitor. This suggests that while sales may not just evaporate, individual retailers may have a tough time hanging onto what they had before, the study revealed.

Among other increasing challenges retailers may face this holiday season, 80% of shoppers said they have conducted online research as part of their in-store shopping process, including from inside the store itself. That’s up from 62% in a similar AlixPartners survey in 2015. (The question wasn’t asked in last year’s survey.)

“Our survey suggests that companies won’t be facing anything like the so-called retail apocalypse this holiday season, but they certainly will be facing a difficult conundrum — how to deal with an unprecedented mix of increasingly complex channel, customer and competitive dynamics,” Joel Bines, co-head of the AlixPartners’ retail practice and a managing director, AlixPartners.

“The winners in this environment will likely be those who truly master &lsquoclicks-and-bricks’ strategies, without short-shrifting the &lsquobricks’ part,” he added. “Also important is localizing assortments, marketing and promotions to match today’s fast-changing markets, including at the regional level and below. And last but not least, making the necessary efforts and investment to understand today’s customer.”

On a positive note, the survey revealed that a whopping 84% of consumers expect to spend the same or more this holiday season, up 1% point vs. AlixPartners’ poll last year. In addition, 93% expect to start their holiday shopping at the same time as last year or earlier, and of those who expect to start shopping earlier, 42% expect to spend “somewhat” or “significantly” more than they did last year.

Other findings include:

&bull 92% of respondents plan to use online sources to research their purchases during the holiday-shopping season.

&bull Consumer electronics is the most online-researched retail category in the survey, with 38% of respondents saying they’ve conducted online research.

&bull Apparel and footwear have the highest online sales penetration in the poll, with 37% of respondents saying they’ve made an online purchase.

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