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Sears’ holiday plans include enhanced layaway services, mobile POS

BY Marianne Wilson

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Kmart and Sears are gearing up for the holiday shopping season with the elimination of layaway service fees, a new layaway home delivery service and an enhanced in-store mobile experience.

Sears stores throughout the country are rolling out mobile point-of-sale devices to allow for shorter lines and greater convenience. The receipt can be emailed to them, printed or both. In addition, 500 Sears and Kmart stores recently armed associates with tablet devices that have a special shopping application for checking available inventory, accessing product information and videos, and selling merchandise available in stores or the company’s websites right from the selling floor.

Kmart has eliminated layaway service fees until Nov. 17, and Sears has eliminated layaway service fees from Sept. 29 to Oct. 29, and Nov. 2 to Dec. 3. Customers can also shop at the chains’ respective websites and place items on layaway. Layaway items can be picked up at the closest Kmart or Sears store – or, for the first time ever – starting Nov. 7, they can opt to have the items shipped to their home.

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Kantar Retail survey: Dollar General offers least expensive basket price

BY Marianne Wilson

Cambridge, Mass. — Dollar General is the overall basket price leader delivering a substantial savings to value shoppers, according to Kantar Retail’s second annual opening price point (OPP) survey. Walgreens, for the second year, had the most expensive total basket, driven by sharply higher edible and non-edible grocery baskets.

The Kantar survey measures how selected retailers are meeting the cross-category needs of the low-income shopper who is seeking the lowest prices to fulfill basket requirements. Kantar selected twenty categories across the edible grocery, non-edible grocery, and HBA segments. The study was expanded this year to include Dollar General along with the same six retailers surveyed in 2011, including Walmart, Stop & Shop, Family Dollar, Aldi, Target and Walgreens. Retailers included in the survey are located in the Northeast U.S.

Highlights of this study include:

  • Dollar General offered an 18% overall basket savings driven by lower OPPs in its edible and non-edible baskets representing a substantial savings to the value shopper.
  • Walmart offered the second cheapest overall basket, though 18% higher than the OPP basket at Dollar General.

“Dollar General’s basket price leadership at the OPP level is impressive,” said Leon Nicholas, Kantar Retail senior VP and contributor to the study. “Though Walmart had a less expensive HBA basket, the retailer’s assertion of overall basket price leadership to the value-focused shopper on an everyday basis was not established by our study.”

According to Nicholas, the results of the study suggest that temporary price cuts to create the perception of a price advantage, will not win the battle for the value shopper’s dollar. Instead, aggressive, everyday pricing across categories will be a requirement to overtake Dollar General’s advantage at the opening price point, he said.

To receive a copy of the Kantar Retail study, contact Katherine Clarke at [email protected].

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Kronos: Fewer people applying for retail jobs

BY CSA STAFF

Chelmsford, Mass. — The Kronos Retail Labor Index (RLI) rose to 4.5% in September, the highest reading in four years. (The Index is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3.0% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.)

“While the higher level of the RLI implies better odds of employment for job seekers, it mostly reflects reduced competition rather than a pick-up in hiring,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which prepares the analysis and write-up. “Applications have dropped sharply since the middle of last year, and September’s decline left applications at their lowest level on record.”

According to Varvares, some of the recent decline in hiring may be attributed to firms holding on to employees longer, which was indicated by a higher retention rate at firms in the sample.

“In addition, the recent softening in the overall economy, especially household spending, has likely made retailers more cautious and resulted in delayed hiring decisions,” he said. “We expect retail hiring to pick up only as the recovery strengthens, improving employer confidence."

The Kronos Retail Labor Index is released on a monthly basis. Click here to access the full report and other data.

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