OPERATIONS

Sears board approves spin-off of Orchard Supply Hardware

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — The board of Sears Holdings Corp has approved the spinoff of Sears’ Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp.

Sears announced its intention to spin off the 89-store hardware store chain in June, saying both companies could better focus on their goals as separate firms.

Under the spinoff, Sears shareholders as of Dec. 16 will receive Orchard stock, which will list on the Nasdaq under the ticker "OSH." The shareholders will end up with about 80% of the hardware chain’s common stock, according to a regulatory filing.

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comScore: Holiday online spending approaches $25 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

Reston, Va. — E-commerce spending for November-December holiday season to date totaled $24.6 billion, 15% up over the year-ago period, according to comScore. The most recent week (week ending Dec. 9) reached $5.9 billion in spending, an increase of 15% versus the corresponding week last year, with three days surpassing $1 billion.

“The most recent week of the online holiday shopping season saw growth rates remain in line with the season-to-date at 15% and three individual spending days eclipse the $1 billion threshold,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “These highlights represent another very positive sign for the holiday shopping season, as the week following ‘Cyber Week’ often experiences relative softness in spending momentum due to retailers pulling back on their promotional activity. As we enter what will be the heaviest week of the season for online retailers – beginning with ‘Green Monday’ on Dec. 12 – all signs are now pointing to a strong finish to the season.”

The term “Green Monday” was coined by eBay in 2007 to describe the Monday occurring around the second week of December, which has tended to be the heaviest (or among the heaviest) online spending days of the year. Over the past six holiday shopping seasons, “Green Monday” has consistently ranked among the top spending days of the season, ending the year as the top-ranked spending day twice (2005 and 2007) and the second-ranked spending day three times (2006, 2008 and 2010).

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Lowe’s face backlash in wake of canceling ads on ‘All-American Muslim’ reality show

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Lowe’s Home Improvement is facing a backlash in the wake of its decision to stop advertising on a reality show about American Muslims. About 40 local and national Muslim and Arab-American leaders from around the nation are expected to participate Monday evening in a conference call to discuss the decision by the home improvement chain to pull its ads from the cable show "All-American Muslim,” The Detroit News reported.

"A possible boycott is on the table but that would be a collective decision by various leaders," said Dawud Walid, the executive director of CAIR-MI, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Lowe’s canceled its ads after getting what it said was a "significant amount of communication" about the show. But the chain did not address reports that its decision was influenced by the conservative group Florida Family Association, which described the show as "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." The sent three emails to its members, asking them to petition Lowe’s to pull its advertising.

The program details the lives of five suburban families from Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population.

Calling the Lowe’s decision "un-American" and "naked religious bigotry," Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told The Associated Press he would also consider legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads.

The senator sent a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe’s CEO Robert A. Niblock.

"The show is about what it’s like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what’s happening here with Lowe’s," Lieu said.

Lowe’s issued a statement in response to the controversy. "Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views," the statement said. "As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance."

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