OPERATIONS

Wal-Mart makes holiday ‘checkout promise,’ pledges to staff every register

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bentonville, Ark. — A day after announcing a disappointing second quarter, Wal-Mart Stores has made an aggressive holiday promise to its customers: the world’s largest retailer says it will staff every cash register from the day after Thanksgiving through the days just before Christmas during peak shopping times.

Wal-Mart’s "checkout promise" is aimed at addressing lengthy waits in checkout lines.

"We feel good about price and having the top gifts of the season, so the next priority is about getting customers in and out of the stores quickly," Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising officer, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "Taking the possibility of waiting in long lines off the table will attract more people into stores."

On Thursday, Wal-Mart reported flat same-store sales and negative traffic counts, as the discounter continues its struggle to win back customers who’ve moved their business over to smaller nearby rivals. Now, Wal-Mart is taking aim at the holiday season as a hugely important opportunity to attract customers via operational efficiencies.

"We must run stronger stores everywhere we operate, with better merchandising, in stock levels and quality service," CEO Doug McMillon told investors Thursday.

Analysts are skeptical that Wal-Mart’s “checkout promise” will really make a difference. Kantar Retail analyst Leon Nicholas said promising to staff checkouts is a "feather in their cap, a checkmark in the retail execution box, but it doesn’t move holiday traffic like having the right assortment and the right quantities so that people aren’t showing up to the store and finding the shelves empty.

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OPERATIONS

Report: Starbucks’ scheduling changes unlikely to ease worker burdens

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Following Starbucks Corp.’s announcement that it would change its scheduling rules to prevent employees from having to work an opening shift after a closing shift the previous evening, some workers have expressed skepticism that the changes would be universally enforced.

Several of the 130,000 impacted Starbucks’ workers at corporate-owned chains have spoken with media outlets and said that the new policies may be difficult to enforce as the onus is on the individual store managers to implement the changes.

Some workers expressed concern that their managers would cut back on their shifts if they complained about the irregular scheduling. Others said they would still be allowed to work back-to-back shifts, although not required to.

In an email sent to employees on Thursday morning, Cliff Burrows, Starbucks’ president for the U.S. and Americas, outlined the scheduling changes in response to a New York Times article detailing a single mother’s plight as she tried to balance her job as a Starbucks barista with a three-hour commute and a continually changing schedule. Burrows said that in addition to the closing/opening shift change, Starbucks will also now transfer employees whose commute is longer than one hour to a closer store and post schedules at least one week in advance.

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REAL ESTATE

Rappaport signs trio of 7-Eleven deals in Washington, D.C., area

BY Katherine Boccaccio

McLean, Va. — Rappaport has signed three new 7-Eleven deals in the Washington, D.C., area totaling 9,471 sq. ft. of retail space. 7-Eleven will open new locations inside The Shops of Avondale in Washington D.C., 2001 Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, and 6138 Kings Highway in Alexandria, Virginia.

The 3,900-sq.-ft. location at The Shops of Avondale is now open. The 2,587-sq.-ft., 2001 Clarendon Boulevard location is slated to open in late 2014, and the 2,984-sq.-ft. location at 6138 Kings Highway is expected to open in late November.

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