OPERATIONS

Shopko names CMO

BY Staff Writer

Green Bay, Wis. — Shopko said Thursday that it has named Nancy Altman as senior VP, chief marketing officer for the general merchandise chain.

Altman, who was previously VP marketing for Ulta, joins Shopko as it is in the process of converting more than 160 Pamida stores to its new Shopko Hometown format as part of a merger with Pamida that was finalized earlier this year.

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J.C. Penney to change pricing structure again

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney said Thursday it is once again tweaking its pricing structure, changing course just six months after introducing a three-tiered everyday pricing strategy.

The retailer said that, beginning Aug. 1, it will eliminate one of the tiers and bring back the word "clearance." To avoid the kind of confusion the company created last February when it changed pricing without properly communicating the new strategies with its customers, Penney said it will tweak its advertising to make sure the changes are clear to consumers.

While some analysts seem encouraged that new CEO Ron Johnson is re-examining some of the sweeping changes he made when he took the wheel in November, others wonder if he will be given enough time to effect his promised turnarounds.

Johnson expressed confidence that the pricing strategy will work.

"We thought simplifying 590 unique sale events into three types of pricing would be easier, but it turns out that customers and others found the pricing a little confusing," he said. "Now we’re going from 590 to 3 to 1: The first price is the right price."

Under the new system, Penney is keeping "Every Day" low prices that are consistently 40% lower than regular prices before the company eliminated sales. It also will keep periodic sales, but will label them as “clearance.”

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Survey: Paycheck cycle remains pronounced

BY CSA STAFF

Most Americans are locked in a struggle to make ends meet, which is why Walmart’s message of saving people money so they can live better is resonating stronger than ever.

Just how bad is it out there? That’s what the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and the Consumer Federation of America wanted to know. The organizations’ this week released discouraging results from their annual financial planning survey that show the number of people living paycheck to paycheck is up, there is a high degree of pessimism about the future, and household net worth levels are below where they were 15 years ago when the study was first conducted.

“Saving enough money for future goals like retirement and kids’ college, while also maintaining an adequate emergency fund and staying out of serious debt, has always been a challenge,” according to the study. “This was true even in the more favorable economic climate of 1997, when Princeton Survey Research Associates International first surveyed household decision‐makers about these topics. In 2012, with high unemployment, stagnant incomes and reduced net worth, those challenges are even greater.”

The median family, the theoretical family that is richer than half of all American families and poorer than the other half, had a net worth of $77,300 in 2010 compared with $126,400 in 2007 according to the Federal Reserve statistics cited in the study. This means the average family has no more wealth today than it did in the early 1990s, wiping out nearly two decades of economic gains.

As a result, in 2012, households where people live from paycheck to paycheck (38%) outnumber those where people feel financially comfortable (30%). Fifteen years ago, when economic conditions were much more positive, those percentages were reversed.
A lot of the gloom stems from the decline in housing prices because for most Americans their home is their largest asset. However, one fourth of those who responded to the survey said they owe more than their home is worth.

A copy of the study with complete details on the thorough methodology is available by clicking here.

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