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Thanksgiving costs 34% less at Walmart

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart customers shopping for a traditional Thanksgiving meal can plan a 10-person dinner for $32.64, or 34 percent less than average, according to the nation’s largest farm group.

“We’re focused on offering competitive pricing on everything our customers are looking for this holiday season, from staples like turkey and pumpkin pie to new ingredients some customers are incorporating into their Thanksgiving recipes, like honey bourbon bacon and flavored hams,” said Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of grocery at Walmart U.S. “Customers can shop Walmart with confidence for all their holiday meal essentials.”

Ingredients for a typical holiday feast, with turkey and all the trimmings, can cost an average of $49.41 at other stores, up 37 cents from $49.04 in 2013, the American Farm Bureau Federation said.Data were derived from 179 volunteer shoppers who checked prices at grocery stores in 35 states.The national average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011.

Walmart recently expanded its Savings Catcher tool earlier this month to include holiday turkey and ham.

The Farm Bureau's dinner also includes bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, plus coffee and milk, all in quantities enough for a family of 10, with leftovers.

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Lids teams up with NBA on customization

BY CSA STAFF

As the NBA season gets fully under way, specialty retailer Lids is looking to capitalize on fan excitement by offering customizable and personalized NBA apparel and headwear for the first time ever.

Shoppers will be able to customize the new Adidas NBA Swingman jersey with the name and number of any NBA player, or personalize the jersey with their own name and number in more than 70 Lids stores nationwide. Player-customization or personalization of NBA team logo Adidas and Mitchell & Ness headwear will also be an option in more than 800 U.S. Lids stores.

“As a national leader in fan wear, our primary goal is to provide our customers the ability to express their personal style and love of the game, not just for some of the teams and top stars, but any player, any team, any time,” said Ken Kocher, president of LIDS Sports Group. “Through select professional sports partnerships, custom embroidery capabilities and a wide selection of styles and sizes, we are committed to giving our customers the official gear they want, right when they want it.”

“We are always looking to bring new and exciting merchandise to our fans,” said Brian Keegan, NBA vice president of global retail development. “The new NBA Swingman jersey, coupled with the customized and personalized programs, accomplish this goal and provide our fans a unique and compelling customer experience at LIDS and Locker Room by LIDS stores."

Lids recruited NBA No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves to shoot an ad in support of the new customization.

LIDS currently operates 936 headwear specialty retail stores, 151 sports fan retail stores and 57 team-specific professional sports and university athletics retail stores across North America.

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Is Best Buy headed for its best Christmas ever?

BY CSA STAFF

Best Buy shared an optimistic view of the holiday season after posting a 3.2% third quarter comp increase at U.S. stores, but offered plenty of reasons why profitability could prove challenging.

Total company sales increased 0.6% to nearly $9.4 billion and same store sales increased 2.2%, reflecting a 3.2% increase at U.S. stores offset by a 3% decline at international locations. An online comp increase of 21.6%, on top of a prior year gain of 15.1%, was aided the rollout of ship from store capabilities. Profits from continuing operations increased to $107 from $43 million.

"In the third quarter, our teams delivered positive comparable sales, improved profitability and continued progress in our Renew Blue transformation,” said Best Buy president and CEO Hubert Joly. “This resulted in $9.4 billion in revenue and 32 cents in non-GAAP diluted earnings per share versus 18 cents last year. Operationally, this year-over-year improvement was primarily driven by 0.6% revenue growth and the benefits from our Renew Blue and other SG&A cost reduction initiatives, partially offset by strategic pricing investments and the ongoing competitive pressure on our gross profit rate.”

The company’s performance is noteworthy because NPD showed the consumer electronics category overall declined 0.2% during the third quarter. However, Best Buy showed strength in televisions, computing, and tablets versus the industry and also saw strength in gaming and appliances. The company’s 3.2% comp increase also included an 80 basis point estimated benefit associated with the classification of revenue related to new mobile carrier installment billing plans.

“As we enter the fourth quarter, we are excited about our holiday plan, which has been built around the cumulative progress we have made against our Renew Blue priorities, an operational roadmap that incorporates the specific learnings that we gained from last year and our current views on the consumer and competitive environment,” Joly said.

More specifically, Joly said fourth quarter improvement would be driven by customer-facing changes made on Bestbuy.com and in stores that touch key categories such as home theater, accessories, appliances and emerging categories such as health and wearables, connected home and digital imaging. Joly also singled out installment billing plans in the mobile phone category, a more inspirational gifting strategy and a more defined, structured and analytical approach to the company’s promotional strategy and competitive response plans as contributing factors to fourth quarter growth. Best Buy plans to make relevant and targeted marketing investments, including a more concise statement of its “expert service, unbeatable price,” value proposition. The company has also improved inventory availability with ship from store capabilities now present at 1,400 stores compared to 400 last year.

“Like every holiday, though, we believe the outcome of these initiatives is, and will continue to be, tempered by other external and internal factors – including the investments that are required to drive them,” Joly said.

Best Buy CFO Sharon McCollam said the favorable sales trends are encouraging, but noted fourth quarter profits could be challenged by factors such as an increased mix of faster growing, but lower-margin products, higher incentive compensation in retail stores, increased growth of lower margin online sales and increased investments in customer-facing initiatives. McCollam also noted the profits could be pressured by external factors such as an intensely promotional competitive environment, a possible constraint in product availability in recent high-profile product launches and a potential supply chain disruption related to the West Coast port delays.

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