FINANCE

Report: Target prices dropped 20% during breach

BY Dan Berthiaume

Ottawa, Canada – Target dropped prices on its monitored assortment by more than 20% during the days leading up to its confirmation of the data breach that compromised the security of 70 million customers’ personal information during the pre-holiday shopping season. According to data from 360pi analyzing approximately 830 products across eight categories, including TVs, tablets, digital cameras and more, Target dropped its prices by 18% between Dec. 14 and Dec. 17.

Prices continued to drop another 5% leading up to Christmas. In comparison, Walmart dropped prices by only 5%-6% during the same time period.

“Our data suggests that faced with a loss of customer trust, mounting inventory and a shrinking pre-Christmas shopping window, Target may have taken a dramatic price decrease approach to attract price-sensitive shoppers and minimize the impact of lower sales,” said Jenn Markey, VP marketing for 360pi. “It appears to us that this pricing strategy did not completely mitigate the financial impact of the breach, as Target’s fourth quarter profit decreased by 46% while Walmart’s fell only 21%.”

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FINANCE

Zumiez net income, sales zoom in Q4; plans 55 new global stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Lynnwood, Wash. – Net income in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 at Zumiez Inc. increased 17.3% to $26.9 million, from $22.9 million last year.

Net sales increased 1.1% to $226.8 million from $224.4 million, although same-store sales dropped 2.2%.

Results for the quarter include a $5.8 million benefit related to Zumiez’ acquisition of Blue Tomato. Zumiez plans to open up to 55 new stores during fiscal 2014, including as many as seven in Canada and five in Europe.

“The fourth quarter proved to be more challenging than we expected both domestically and abroad,” said Rick Brooks, CEO of Zumiez, referring to same-store sales. Weak mall traffic in December and January created a highly promotional retail environment that pressured our sales and deleveraged our cost structure.”

During the full fiscal year 2013, Zumiez reported net income increased 9% to $45.9 million, compared to net income in the prior fiscal year of $42.2 million.

Net sales grew 8.2% to $724.3 million from $669.4 million, and same-store sales dropped 0.3%.

Looking ahead, Zumiez expects net sales of $156 to $160 million and a net loss during the first quarter of fiscal 2014. This guidance is based on an anticipated comparable sales decrease in the low single digit range for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, and also takes into account increased spending on digital capabilities and European expansion, as well as the amortization of intangible assets associated with Blue Tomato.

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Report: Measuring ROI biggest Twitter challenge for brands

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta – Close to half (45.1%) of brands reported that ‘measuring ROI and results’ is their greatest challenge when using the Twitter platform for marketing, followed by ‘building an audience’ (42.1%) and ‘engagement’ (36.8%). According to a new survey from Social Media Marketing University (SMU), 65% of brands say that Twitter is an effective marketing tool, while 30.6% are undecided.

Other notable findings include:

• 96.2% of brands using Twitter as a marketing tool report having challenges using the platform to achieve specific goals.

• 16.9% of brands are not aware that Twitter offers paid services and 34.7% are not currently interested in using Twitter’s paid services.

• Despite the popularity of video marketing, Vine remains underutilized with just 2.4% of brands using the feature on a regular basis.

• Most brands using Twitter as a marketing tool do so to increase brand awareness (79.4%).

• Brands are using Twitter predominantly to create engagement during events (62.4%), build relationships with influencers (62.4%) and monitor brand mentions (58.4%).

“Social media has become a significant play in the marketing world, so much so that brands are almost forced to leverage it, even if they are unsure of its value,” said John Souza, founder of Social Media Marketing University. “The challenge for marketers will be to solidify best practices to measure ROI on all social media platforms as they face increased pressure from the C-Suite. Additionally, as Twitter banks on the success of its paid services, it will be critical for the platform to provide resources and support to help brands navigate this challenge.”

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