OPERATIONS

Survey: A third of back-to-school shoppers will use mobile phones to compare prices in-store

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Los Angeles — A survey released Monday by PriceGrabber found that 37% of back-to-school shoppers plan to use mobile phones to compare prices while in-store.

The results, which supplement PriceGrabber’s recently released Back-To-School Shopping Forecast, revealed that while consumers are planning to spend more money on back-to-school items this year, they continue to look for ways to stretch their dollar and take advantage of retailer incentives to save.

According to the survey, 74% of consumers chose free shipping as the top retailer tactic that would entice them to make a back-to-school purchase this year.

When survey respondents were asked to select all of the retailer tactics that would encourage them to make a back-to-school shopping purchase, sales came in second place with 72% of the consumer vote; 66% of shoppers noted price cuts; 63% cited coupons; 43% selected online promotions; and price matching and in-store only promotions tied with 28% of the vote.

"Whether shopping in stores or online during this back-to-school season, consumers should leverage the multitude of money saving tools and retailer incentives that are available," said Graham Jones, general manager of PriceGrabber. "We can deduce from our survey that free shipping will be a huge deciding factor when consumers purchase online. Savvy shoppers will get the most for their money by searching for coupons and actively using comparison shopping websites to ensure they are getting the best deal."

When respondents were asked to select all of the ways in which they plan to save money while back-to-school shopping this year, online and comparison shopping websites ranked in first place with 62% of the consumer vote. Fifty-six percent of consumers said they plan to shop at discount, bargain and outlet stores, and 50% will search for school supplies such as pens, pencils and glue sticks already in their house before buying new items. Forty-nine percent of consumers are planning to take an inventory of their kid’s closet to see which clothing items can still be worn and which items need to be replaced before going shopping; 36% plan to make a list to control impulse buying; and 34% plan to visit retailer websites to print out coupons.

Consumers’ use of smartphones to find the best deals while shopping continues to grow in popularity. Thirty-seven percent of PriceGrabber survey respondents plan to compare prices from their mobile phone while in brick-and-mortar stores this back-to-school shopping season. When asked if they plan to do any back-to-school shopping from their mobile phone, 14% of respondents said they plan to do so.

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Best Buy Canada fights showrooming with revised price match policy

BY CSA STAFF

BURNABY, B.C. — Best Buy Canada and its subsidiary Future Shop are taking the issue of online competition head on with revised price match and return policies in response to the changing nature of retail in Canada and commitment to customer service.

The companies have launched Price Beat Promise, a guarantee to customers that Best Buy Canada and Future Shop are the destinations with the lowest prices across the country. If a competitor online or in-store has an item selling for less, the companies will beat it by 10% of the difference, for up to 30 days.

"We’re going to beat any price in-store or online for any Canadian Competitor," said Mike Pratt, president and COO, Best Buy Canada. "Showrooming is a completely price-based concept – it’s about the perception of getting a lower price somewhere. We see our Price Beat Promise as rendering showrooming obsolete."

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OPERATIONS

Wet Seal fires CEO as sales sink

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Foothill Ranch, Calif. — Wet Seal said Monday it has fired CEO Susan McGalla, effectively immediately, citing “financial performance of the chain” as the sole reason for her termination.

No successor is in place, and the company said that CFO Steven Benrubi, along with chairman Hal Kahn and COO Ken Seipel, will serve in that capacity during the search process.

McGalla was named CEO in January 2011, and has an employment contract with the company through August 2014. Prior to joining Wet Seal, she was president and chief merchandising officer for American Eagle Outfitters.

Wet Seal has struggled mightily over the last year and, in May, announced it would close its Arden B chain as well as slow Wet Seal’s growth in order to tighten cost controls. Sales have continued to drop over the summer months and on Monday Wet Seal cut its outlook for the quarter ending July.

In addition to battling declining sales, the retailer is also faced with a lawsuit filed earlier in July, alleging that Wet Seal discriminated against African-American store management employees.

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