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Starbucks teams with Square to accept mobile payments; invests $25 million in company

BY Marianne Wilson

Seattle — Mobile payments took another step forward with the announcement that Starbucks Coffee Co. has entered into a partnership with Square, a mobile-payment start-up. Starbucks will invest $25 million in Square — part of the latest round of financing — and Starbucks chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz will join Square’s board of directors. Square was founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter.

Starbucks Corp. will be the first national retailer to let customers pay with Square’s mobile payment application, whose users, to date, have been mostly small businesses.

The retailer said that beginning this fall, in addition to its existing mobile payment application it has rolled out, customers will be able to use Square’s Pay with Square to pay for their purchases. To use either of the programs, customers download the apps, then link a credit or debit card to the account. To pay at the register, they open the app and wave their phone in front of the scanner.

The Starbucks app can only be used at the company’s cafes and customers earn rewards when using it. But the Square app can be used wherever it is accepted. It shows users nearby businesses that accept Square payments.

“As the largest retail mobile payment platform in the U.S., we’re excited and proud to accept payments with Square,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and CEO. “The evolving social and digital media platforms and highly innovative and relevant payment capabilities are causing seismic changes in consumer behavior and creating equally disruptive opportunities for business.”

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NPD Group: Men’s grooming market grows at rapid pace

BY CSA STAFF

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — The men’s grooming market continues to grow at a rapid pace as research shows that men’s grooming tools, such as electric shavers, men’s trimmers and home hair clippers, are among the largest dollar growth drivers in the overall personal care industry. Meanwhile, such product categories as men’s facial skin care continue to flourish.

Recent figures on men’s grooming tools and products released by the NPD Group, a market research company, revealed men continue to discover the benefits of keeping up appearances. NPD credited the influence of popular culture — and specifically, the increased appearance of facial hair on the red carpet — for the rise in men’s grooming tool sales. Recent results in this category also show men want to control hair growth on the body, as well as the face.

According to NPD’s consumer tracking service:

  • In the 12 months ended in June, sales of men’s electric shavers and men’s trimmers gained 9% and 12% in dollar sales, respectively. Facial trimmers grew 13% in dollar sales;

  • Pen trimmers and nose/ear trimmers together accounted for 13% of men’s trimmer dollars and increased 22% and 19% in units, respectively;

  • Body groomers gained nearly 16% in unit sales in the 12 months ended in June; and

  • Body groomers skew toward the under-35 age group and are even more popular among men under 25 years of age.

“Even though the overall personal care industry is currently flat, the men’s grooming categories are showing healthy growth,” stated Debra Mednick, executive director of NPD’s home business. “Men are purchasing the tools to help them get their look and looking good sells.”

Unlike women, men’s options are limited when it comes to covering up skin irritations, such as razor burn, nicks and acne. Survey results confirm men are more educated now than ever before about skin care problems and solutions.

According to NPD’s men’s grooming consumer report:

  • More than 9-out-of-10 men use some sort of grooming products today;

  • The men’s grooming industry generated $964 million in U.S. department store sales in 2011, an increase of 11%, compared with 2010;

  • Facial cleansers (excluding bar soap), facial lotions/moisturizers and lip products are the most commonly used products among male facial skin care users;

  • Men’s facial skin care grew 11% in dollars in 2011; and

  • Facial skin care product users are more likely to be ethnic men and men ages 18 to 34 years.

“Men have become increasingly conscious of the perks associated with looking good,” added Karen Grant, VP and senior global industry analyst at NPD. “They have a heightened awareness that looking good may provide them an advantage in the workplace as well as in their personal lives.”

“Men have different skin than women and the men’s grooming brands need to continue educating them as well as make them feel comfortable in the shopping environment to gain sales in this category,” Grant said.

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Stater Bros. reports Q3 sales rise

BY CSA STAFF

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Third-quarter sales for Stater Bros. rose more than $10 million during the period ended June 24, the retailer said Tuesday.

Third-quarter sales increased 1.14% to $949.8 million, compared with $939 million in third quarter 2011. Same-store sales also rose 1.14% during the third quarter. For the 39-week period ended June 24, sales rose 3.51% to $2.8 billion, compared with $96.7 million in the year-ago period. Same-stores sales for the 39-week period also rose 3.51%.

Stater Bros. said its third-quarter net income declined 3.9% to $7.3 million, compared with $7.6 million, while net income for the 39-week period was $32.7 million, an increase of 65% over the same period last year. The company noted that during 39-week period of fiscal 2012, it incurred $10.1 million less in interest expense, compared with the same period of the prior year.

"We have been able to grow our sales and our customer counts in a time of unprecedented economic challenges and a growing competitive environment because our valued customer has responded to our marketing programs," Stater Bros. chairman, president and CEO Jack Brown said. "At the beginning of the economic downturn we realized that our customers would be under tremendous pressure to make ends meet. We decided to do our part by making sure that our customers received value and great customer service on each of their visits to our supermarkets. We have continued to keep prices low, so our customers get great value on their shopping dollars.

"In the first quarter of fiscal 2011, we paid down debt and refinanced a significant portion of our remaining debt which reduced our interest expense," Brown added. "We have also focused on reducing our operating expenses where possible. These savings have made it possible to provide great value to our customers. They have responded by continuing to shop at their local Stater Bros. Market."

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