OPERATIONS

Sears Canada launches shoppable iPad app for Wish Book

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Toronto — Sears Canada said Tuesday it has debuted a permanent shoppable iPad application for its Wish Book catalog after a temporary launch for the 2011 holiday shopping season.

The app will contain various content throughout any given year, the first of which appears Tuesday in the form of the 60th anniversary Wish Book.

"As Sears celebrates 60 years of wishes this holiday season we are thrilled to offer our customers another exciting way to shop for all their holiday gifts through our new iPad Catalog app, which launches with the 2012 Wish Book," said Calvin McDonald, president and CEO, Sears Canada.

The app features a smart, responsive pinch and zoom function, as well as a simple, intuitive navigation and browsing experience, new for 2012. An additional incentive for customers is access to exclusive notifications of new catalogs, promotions and specials.

The iPad Sears Catalog app is available for download via the Apple iTunes App Store or Sears.ca/app.

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OPERATIONS

Apple retail head steps down after 6 months

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, Apple Inc. said its retail senior VP John Browett abruptly left the company on Monday. Another senior-ranking staffer iOS software senior VP Scott Forstall, will exit next year.

No explanation was given for the executives’ departure, but news reports have suggested that recent missteps made by each could have led to the exits. Browett, who took over the store operations after Ron Johnson left to become CEO at J.C. Penney Co. in November, slashed employees’ hours at Apple’s retail stores, a move that Apple quickly reversed. Forstall and his team launched a software update in September that replaced Google Maps with Apple’s first mapping application. Unfavorable response led to another Apple apology.

Apple said it is seeking a replacement for Browett. Forstall will act as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook until he leaves, Apple said. His responsibilities will be divided among other Apple veterans.

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OPERATIONS

Retailers hit hard by superstorm, economy expected to rebound

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — While it may be days, even weeks, before the full extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy is known, economists are forecasting that retail sales will be impacted in October and November but that the economy overall will experience an uptick.

Retailers across all categories closed stores on Monday as Sandy made its approach. Wal-Mart, for example, had closed 33 stores as of 11:45 a.m. ET on Monday, according to a Wall Street Journal report, with most of those stores located in Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and New Jersey. Target had closed 12 stores by Monday morning and told WSJ it would likely close additional stores throughout the day and into Tuesday and Wednesday.

Macy’s had closed 130 stores by Monday morning, as well as its New York City offices. Best Buy closed more than 100 stores across the Northeast, and Foot Locker said it would close about 200 stores in all.

Most retailers, however, expressed relief that the storm didn’t hit over a weekend and that, even better, it fell on what are typically the slowest sales days for retail.

Citigroup retail analyst Deborah Weinswig told WSJ that she expects a mixed bag for retailers because of the storm. Hurricane Sandy will "disrupt last minute Halloween sales and mall traffic but drive stock-up trips to discounters," she said.

In total, however, economic losses from the storm will likely exceed the $12 billion to $16 billion in damage from Hurricane Irene, which battered the Northeast in August 2011. Some of the latest estimates are that Hurricane Sandy’s damage may reach $35 to $45 billion.

The storm forced the New York Stock Exchange to close for a second day, and the ports of New York and New Jersey have been closed and evacuated. All the closures will mean lost wages, production and sales for businesses throughout the region, which makes up about 15% of the nation’s economy. Business lost by department stores could be made up in coming weeks but foregone restaurant sales will not be recovered, Diane Swonk, chief economist of Mesirow Financial, told the Detroit Free Press. Grocery stores and home-improvement outlets are realizing net gains as customers have stocked up on water, generators, flashlights and batteries. Online retail will likely experience an uptick as thwarted shoppers turn to the Internet to make purchases.

Swonk also said that homeowners forced to repair damage will likely make further renovations that they’ve put off, boosting economic growth. The storm is "unleashing pent-up demand," she says. "It’s the most perverse stimulus to the economy." Swonk estimated that Hurricane Sandy will add from two-tenths to half a percentage point to economic growth this quarter.

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