Report: Toys ‘R’ Us prices 37% higher than Amazon
Ottawa, Ontario – Toys ‘R’ Us, which carries about 425 of the same video games as Amazon.com, is on average 37% higher priced than Amazon as of Nov 21. The latest Amazon Holiday Pricing Insights report from pricing solutions provider 360pi also found that the toy retailer has been keeping prices high during the last month and even increasing them during the week of Nov. 21, which may point to a deep discount strategy the week of Nov. 28.
Some other findings include:
- Amazon is still more competitive on its own assortment in the nine selected categories, including cameras, video games and power drills, only around 80% of the time, which means that other retailers are steadily more competitive around 20% of the time.
- Sears is showing dramatic pricing shifts across all nine categories, which may point to the retailer’s attempts at improving competitive position by trial and error. During week of Nov. 21, they improved overall price competitiveness by 10.1% in the selected categories, then dropped in price competitiveness by 4% on Thursday, Nov. 21. Other retailers have shown a much more stable pricing line heading into next week.
- 360pi data showed that Walmart dramatically dipped prices on coffeemakers on Nov. 6, which was evidence of the retailer’s pricing glitch that made prices on products across categories unbelievably low due to error.
- There is a good deal of price volatility in digital cameras across retailers. For example, Amazon & Newegg change pricing on 20% of their digital camera assortment every five days, and on 50% of assortment every two weeks. Also, Amazon, Newegg, Overstock, Best Buy and B&H change prices on 40% or more of their digital camera assortment every two weeks.
Harley-Davidson takes to Pinterest to drive holiday sales
Harley-Davidson is looking to drive holiday sales by leveraging the power of Pinterest to promote its new online holiday gift guide.
The company has published the gift guide on its website, but has also unveiled several Pinterest boards which feature gifts from the guide, as well as 2014 bikes, custom items and parts and accessories.
From Nov. 26 through Dec. 24, people are also encouraged to create their own Pinterest boards featuring Harley-Davidson items. Harley-Davidson will pick nine weekly winners at the $25-$200 level and one $10,000 grand prize winner with no purchase necessary.
"Gift giving should fuel your holiday spirit, not drain it, so we want to help shoppers break out of their gift ruts and find something cool and unique for everyone on their list," said Karen Davidson, creative director, general merchandise, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. "You don’t have to ride to love getting something from Harley-Davidson. Our Gift Guide is a selection of the season’s most wanted items — gifts that automatically up the cool factor and are truly fun to both give and get."
Having a presence on Pinterest not only grows Harley-Davidson’s overall online footprint, but also facilitates the company’s ability to draw traffic to its website and increase its potential customer base.
Holiday pessimism proves infectious
Apprehension regarding shoppers’ willingness to spend during the shortened holiday season has reached the point where even retailers presumably well positioned to benefit from frugality are sounding alarms.
The most recent is Ross Stores vice chairman and CEO Michael Balmuth who shared his concerns about the fourth quarter even as the operator of 1,154 stores reported third quarter sales that were in line with expectations and profits that exceeded guidance due to margin expansion.
"As we enter the fourth quarter, our merchants have acquired a wide array of exciting and sharply-priced name brand fashions and gifts to appeal to today’s value-focused shoppers,” Balmuth noted. “That said, we are up against our own challenging multi-year comparisons and an upcoming holiday season that we believe will be the most intensely competitive and promotional selling period in recent years. As a result, while we hope to do better, we believe it is prudent to adopt a more cautious outlook for the fourth quarter."
As a result, Balmuth said the company is looking for fourth quarter comps to decelerate from the 2% gain in the third quarter to a range of 1% to 2%. Last year the company generated a fourth quarter comp increase of 5%. The company is also forecasting profits to decline to a range of 97 cents to $1.01 from $1.07 last year which included a 10 cent a share benefit related to an additional week.
During the third quarter, sales at Ross increased 6% to nearly $2.4 billion while profit increased to $171.6 million from $159.5 million and earnings per share advanced to 80 cents from 72 cents.
"Third quarter sales were in line with our guidance, while earnings were better-than-expected mainly due to above-plan merchandise gross margin,” Balmuth said. “Operating margin of 11.3% was relatively flat to last year. As a percent of sales, an improvement in cost of goods sold was offset by an increase in selling, general and administrative expenses."