OPERATIONS

Wal-Mart bringing back layaways for holiday shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores will introduce a holiday layaway plan effective Oct. 17 through Dec. 16. The program has a minimum layaway purchase of $50, and requires a 10% down payment. If the program is successful, Wal-Mart said it may extend it throughout the year.

When Wal-Mart phased out its previous layaway offer in September 2006, such programs had fallen out of popularity. But Sears and some merchants brought back layaways as the recession cut into spending.

"We’re always looking for ways to ease budget strain for our customers, and we know this holiday season brings with it additional financial pressure," said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart’s U.S. division. "This was a key component that our customers asked us for."

In other holiday news, Wal-Mart said that beginning on Monday, it will unveil price cuts on dozens of holiday toys to $15. It also plans to start offering small samples of holiday merchandise, including outdoor decor, later this month — two weeks earlier than a year ago.

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Toys ‘R’ Us enhances omnichannel offerings

BY Staff Writer

Wayne, N.J. — Toys “R” Us is adding a new feature to its “Buy Online, Pick Up In Store” service in time for the 2011 holiday whereby customers using the service will have the ability to designate an alternate person to pick up their order through “Family and Friends Pick Up.” The “Buy Online” service allows customers to shop from the comfort of their own homes, and then to pick up their purchases at the Guest Services desk at a nearby Toys “R” Us store.

In addition, the service has been expanded to include more products, and now includes more than 10,000 items. “Our omnichannel offerings allow us to leverage the strengths of our store and online businesses to create a seamless shopping experience for our customers, so they can shop with us whenever and however they want,” said Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO, Toys “R” Us. “Our e-commerce growth, which has been particularly strong, will continue to benefit from these new capabilities.

Other omnichannel enhancements include:

  • Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us customers can check whether a product is in-stock at their local store by going onto the chain’s web site. Once they choose an item and arrive at the product description page, customers can confirm its availability at stores up to 50 miles from their home by clicking “Select a Store” and entering their zip code.
  • To accommodate customers who are already shopping in a Toys “R” Us or Babies “R” Us store for a certain item and find that it may be out-of-stock, or the item they wish to purchase is available online only, store associates can determine availability of the item on the expanded catalog on Toysrus.com and have it shipped to the customer’s home free of charge.

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Supervalu selling 107 fuel centers

BY Staff Writer

Eden Prairie, Minn. — Supervalu announced the sale of 107 fuel centers located in the Midwest, Intermountain West and West Coast regions following the acceptance of four separate bids to purchase the centers. The transactions include the majority of fuel centers within the Albertsons, Cub Foods, Hornbacher’s and Jewel-Osco banners.

The company said the purchases, expected to be finalized this fall, will allow it to monetize non-core assets, creating capital that the company can use to further strengthen its business. The transactions also include partnership opportunities that will result in Supervalu continuing to have the ability to offer fuel rewards programs to its customers through these existing fuel centers, and in most markets, through an expanded network of fuel centers.

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