FINANCE

Report: Valentine’s Day sales fall in advance, rise on holiday

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Jose, Calif. – Sales for Valentine’s Day this year fell prior to the holiday compared to the same period in 2013, but rose on the actual holiday itself, Feb. 14. According to new figures from site analytics provider RetailNext, men’s stores (that have gifts for men) saw decreased (-13.8%) sales the day before Valentine’s, but an increase of +22.2% in sales on Valentine’s Day itself in 2014.

Meanwhile, women’s stores (that have gifts for women) saw decreased (-13.5%) sales the day before Valentine’s, but an increase of +15.2% in sales on Valentine’s Day itself in 2014. For all retailers examined, the three days before Valentine’s Day saw a -7.4% decrease in sales and -6.7% decline in traffic on average when compared to Feb. 11-13 in 2013.

RetailNext analysis indicates that Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday in 2014, as compared to a Thursday in 2013, made it easier for more people to shop that day.

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OPERATIONS

OfficeMax launches diversity hiring initiative

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boca Raton, Fla. – As part of its “Maxing Out Diversity” program, OfficeMax is partnering with healthcare company ViaQuest to develop a work-training facility and direct employment program to prepare veterans and people with disabilities for job opportunities at Ohio-based OfficeMax locations. The program, which will launch in summer 2014, is similar to those that OfficeMax has initiated in Alabama, Illinois, and Nevada.

The partnership, facilitated through a two-year grant from Kessler Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitation research and funding disability employment initiatives, will use a real-world work environment and specialized curriculum to train people with disabilities for careers within OfficeMax’s distribution and retail centers. ViaQuest also has connected with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, the statewide agency for employment and rehabilitation services, to identify potential participants for the OfficeMax training program.

“Our partnership with OfficeMax is a testament to how we’re expanding our circle of care to provide more opportunities for individuals to secure private-sector employment,” said Rich Johnson, CEO of ViaQuest. “At the same time, we’re well positioned to help companies such as OfficeMax reach their diversity and inclusion goals.”

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News

APG Cash Drawer releases Bluetooth interface

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis — APG Cash Drawer LLC is releasing the BluePro Bluetooth interface for cash drawers. Now available for purchase through APG’s distribution partners, the BluePro Bluetooth interface will enable cash drawer control via Bluetooth communication and allows retailers to wirelessly synchronize and create a one to one relationship between the cash drawer and tablet.

The BluePro interface plugs into most printer-driven cash drawers so it can pair with a tablet via Bluetooth connection. The range of this communication is purposely limited by the BluePro device so that retailers can be assured of having only attended cash transactions.

The BluePro Bluetooth interface is Apple MFi certified to work with iOS devices such as iPhone, iPod, and iPad. APG will provide the necessary software development kit for integration on the Android and iOS platforms, with a Windows solution coming soon.

"We are excited to offer this solution to our customers," said John Meilahn, VP global sales. "APG’s BluePro Bluetooth interface is designed with the small, independent retailer in mind. The Bluetooth interface is a cost effective choice that will enable cash transactions wirelessly from a tablet."

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