FINANCE

Target, Costco exceed expectations in July

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Costco Wholesale Corp. set the July same-store sales pace when it reported Wednesday a better-than-expected gain of 5%, and other discounters answered Thursday with similar positive results.

Aided by discounts and warm weather in the often-mixed month before back-to-school shopping officially begins, discount chains will give investors something to chew on as July results serve as an early indicator of U.S. demand at the starting gate to the second-biggest selling season of the year. Analysts expect same-store sales to show a rise of 1.5% in July, compared with a year-earlier increase of 4.2%, according to Thomson Reuters.

Target, however, saw a better-than-expected same-store sales increase of 3.1%, paired with a net sales gain for the month of 3.2% to nearly $5 billion.

Target chief executive Gregg Steinhafel credited the company’s merchandising strategy, store remodeling and rewards programs with boosting store traffic and sales. The company said food was its strongest category last month, posting a "low double-digit" comparable revenue increase, while health and beauty recorded "mid single-digit" same-store revenue growth.

TJX Cos. posted a same-store sales rise of 7%, prompting the discounter to raise its second-quarter and full-year guidance.

Other key discounter results for July include:

  • Ross Stores recorded a 7% same-store sales increase and increased its second-quarter earnings estimate;
  • Fred’s reported Wednesday that same-store sales rose 1.2%;
  • Cato dipped 2%;
  • Stein Mart increased 2.8%; and
  • Alco edged up 0.1%, excluding fuel.
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Seizing the SoMoLo opportunity

BY CSA STAFF

By Dave Bruno, RedPrairie

Facebook. Twitter. ShopKick. iPhone. iPad. Android. Foursquare. SCVNGR. Cityville. Instagram.

The list of social, mobile, and now local apps, gadgets, games, and networks that have become part of most consumers’ lifestyles is virtually endless and all of them have demonstrated their ability to affect shopping behaviors. Consumers have issued a “SoMoLo” imperative. The critical question is how has retail responded?

The short answer? Not so great.

A study of retailers conducted in December. 2011 found that there is a big divide between how customers want to engage and shop using social, mobile or local and what retailers are actually providing today.

The powerful capabilities of mobile devices, GPS, and social networking apps and sites have transformed the demands and expectations of consumers. Shoppers are increasingly looking to mobile devices, apps and social media as critical – and influential – elements of their shopping experiences as they interact with brands, browse products, search for available inventory, and transact.

As a result, retailers report that their customers’ expectations are dramatically shifting:

  • 57% expect discounts sent to their phone;
  • 50% expect to browse/shop/buy on their tablets;
  • 46% expect to place orders via their phone;
  • 42% expect product pricing & availability on their phone;
  • 40% expect to be able to use QR codes to access product content on their phone;
  • 38% expect to browse/shop/buy on social sites; and
  • 28% expect department-specific messages and offers to be sent to their phones when they are inside a store.

The social shopping scene
For more than a century, social behaviors and shopping have been virtually inseparable. Shopping with friends; sharing opinions about brands, products, and stores; and seeking the opinion of our network before or immediately after purchases are all long-time fixtures of our shopping culture.

The last decade has seen those behaviors translated to all the screens in our lives. Shoppers today are constantly searching their small screens, big screens, and now medium-sized tablet screens for apps, networks, tools, and connections to help them shop more socially, more often, and with greater reach. It’s time for the industry to respond.

Social commerce is expected to reach $14 billion by 2015 but today there is still a significant gap between social “shopping” and “buying.” Thirty-eight percent of consumers shop within social sites, but only 21% of retailers offer the ability to search, browse and buy within those sites. Currently, 30% of retailers do not even have a specific S-Commerce strategy.

And when it comes to location, “Location, Location, Location,” may no longer be the exclusive rallying cry of real estate agents and mortgage brokers. Shoppers appear to be staking a claim in the location-based marketing arena, and so far, they like what they see.

It is reported that 65 million consumers have used social or mobile location-based services. According to our research, 40% of survey respondents reported that shoppers expect to use QR codes to access local mobile product content and 26% expect to receive localized offers on their phones when near a store. But only 33% of retailers are currently using QR codes to deliver mobile content and only 20% are publishing localized offers. In fact, 64% of retailers have no local commerce strategy at all. To harness the evident interest, retailers must figure out how to incorporate localized deals and marketing messages to increase engagement for on-the-go shoppers.

So why the disconnect?
It’s understandable that the multitude of social and mobile platforms is overwhelming for many companies. But the opportunity to tap into the evolving behaviors of SoMoLo shoppers to reach, engage, and transact with them on their terms outweighs that argument, surely. What I’ve discovered is that retailers and chain stores don’t know where to begin – often there is no corporate commitment at the top and they don’t know how to integrate the new channels.

But with the evolution of SoMoLo as a way of life for consumers, it’s now or never. Retail brands need to commit to strategies and solutions that keep up with shoppers — or risk losing them to other brands that have SoMoLo figured out.

So what does it all mean?
As social, mobile and local technologies continue to develop, consumers are eager to tap into their smartphones and social networking sites to seek their friends’ recommendations, discounts, offers, loyalty rewards, and product information.

Retailers have an opportunity – some might even say an obligation – to tap into the evolving behaviors of SoMoLo shoppers. Connecting with consumers on a more personalized and localized level will only strengthen brand loyalty and increase sales.

With the evolution of SoMoLo as a way of life, it’s clear that retail brands have a lot of work to still do. Fortunately, there are three simple steps retailers can take starting today to answer the SoMoLo Imperative.

1) Put a strategy in place beyond just experimenting – It can’t all be trial and error. There needs to be a serious strategy and commitment to SoMoLo in order to succeed.
2) Devote resources to exploiting these channels, both human and financial. Once a commitment is made, devote a part of the marketing budget to making sure it is done right and assign the responsibility of the program’s success to a dedicated owner. If no ownership is taken for the project, it will not succeed.
3) Analyze – Be sure to see what is working and not working for you and your competitors. Listen to your customers’ feedback and take it into account when launching new campaigns.

Retailers and chain stores have certainly taken notice of these new behaviors, and indeed have plans to adapt their strategies and operations to this new breed of shopper. But, as of today however, they are a long way from clear, actionable roadmaps to fulfilling the SoMoLo Imperative.

Dave Bruno is marketing director for RedPrairie, a supply chain and retail technology company. As part of RedPrairie’s research into Commerce in Motion, the company conducts research and analysis of the ever-changing dynamics of global supply chains and the hyper-connected consumer.


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B.Low says:
Mar-28-2013 03:55 am

Good thoughts and well-written
Belgravia Villas is a new and upcoming cluster housing located in the Ang Mo Kio area, nested right in the Ang Mo Kio landed area. It is within a short drive to Little India, Orchard and city area. With expected completion in mid 2016, it comprises of 118 units in total with 100 units of terrace and 18 units of Semi-D. Ang Mo Kio Cluster House

B.Low says:
Mar-28-2013 03:55 am

Belgravia Villas is a new and upcoming cluster housing located in the Ang Mo Kio area, nested right in the Ang Mo Kio landed area. It is within a short drive to Little India, Orchard and city area. With expected completion in mid 2016, it comprises of 118 units in total with 100 units of terrace and 18 units of Semi-D. Ang Mo Kio Cluster House

B.Low says:
Jan-03-2013 05:12 am

Worth Bookmarking
Sant Ritz Sant Ritz is a new and upcoming condominium located in the Potong Pasir area, within a short drive to Little India, Orchard and city area. With expected completion in mid 2016, Sant Ritz comprises of 3 towers with 214 units and stands 12 storeys tall. Future residents will be able to walk to the existing Potong Pasir MRT. With such a short drive to the city area as well as the orchard and bugis area. Entertainment for your love ones will come at a stone’s throw away

B.Low says:
Jan-03-2013 05:12 am

Sant Ritz Sant Ritz is a new and upcoming condominium located in the Potong Pasir area, within a short drive to Little India, Orchard and city area. With expected completion in mid 2016, Sant Ritz comprises of 3 towers with 214 units and stands 12 storeys tall. Future residents will be able to walk to the existing Potong Pasir MRT. With such a short drive to the city area as well as the orchard and bugis area. Entertainment for your love ones will come at a stone’s throw away

B.Glass says:
Aug-03-2012 02:23 pm

SoLoMo
SoLoMo is definitely how shoppers want to buy - it is the intersection of social, mobile, local - adding up to customized and personalized convenience. http://www.schawk.com/blog/mark-silva-solomo-ad-tech

B.Glass says:
Aug-03-2012 02:23 pm

SoLoMo is definitely how shoppers want to buy - it is the intersection of social, mobile, local - adding up to customized and personalized convenience. http://www.schawk.com/blog/mark-silva-solomo-ad-tech

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Ross, TJX dressed for BTS success

BY CSA STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. and FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Retailers of discounted apparel should feel pretty good heading into back-to-school season, as shown by the strong monthly performance of Ross Stores and TJX Cos. With both delivering another month of comps growth, it’s clear value-oriented stores remain popular with consumers.

Sales at Ross increased 12% to $709 million for the month, up from $635 million for same period last year. Comparable-store sales for the month grew 7% on top of a 7% increase last year.

Quarterly sales at Ross increased 12% to $2.3 billion from 2.1 billion for the same period last year. Same-store sales for the quarter ended July 28, 2012 also increased 7% on top of 5% growth last year.

Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and CEO, commented, "We are pleased with our robust sales gains for both July and the second quarter. These better-than-expected results demonstrate that our ability to provide a wide array of terrific name brand bargains continues to resonate with today’s value-focused shoppers, driving broad-based merchandise and geographic trends."

Based on its strong performance in July, Ross Stores raised its second quarter EPS guidance to a range of 80 cents to 81 cents from its previous guidance of 77 cents to 78 cents.

July sales at TJX rose 8% to $1.8 billion from $1.6 billion for the same-period last year. Consolidated comparable-store sales for the month increased 7% over last year. The company also reported a 7% comps increase for its second quarter.

Carol Meyrowitz, CEO of TJX stated, “We are very pleased to report that our strong momentum continued in July. Our consolidated comp store sales increase of 7% in the month significantly exceeded our expectations and was achieved over a 4% increase last year. Customer traffic was up substantially at all divisions and drove most of the comps increase, which we believe speaks to our on-point fashions and brands at great values and wide customer demographic appeal.”

TJX now expects second quarter earnings per share to be approximately 55 cente. For the full year, the company is now expecting earnings per share to be in the range of $2.38 to $2.44.

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