Walmart bringing back 8,500 products in bid to end sales slump
New York City — Walmart is bringing back 8,500 products to the shelves of its U.S. stores and launching a new advertising campaign in a bid to end declining same-stores sales.
The discounter said it will add 11% more products on average to its stores, along with ‘It’s Back’ flags on the restored items. The changes have already started, with additions to pasta, beverages and snacks categories underway. Fresh grocery items and consumables will be added in the coming months. General merchandise categories such as electronics, sporting goods, apparel, fabrics/crafts and outdoor living will expand later this year.
The changes also include an advertising campaign promoting the company’s low-price promise and advertising-matching guarantee, trust it has the lowest prices. The campaign’s slogan is "Low Prices. Every Day. On Everything."
"Walmart’s reputation was founded on the principle of providing low prices day-in and day-out on the broadest assortment of merchandise," said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S. "Our company is determined to create the best one-stop shopping experience and low prices on the right products backed by a clear, consistent ad match policy."
Sears feeling pretty about new beauty department
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears is looking to position itself as a beauty leader, by announcing Monday the installment of new cosmetics departments at more than 100 locations and Sears.com.
According to the company, these refreshed beauty departments will feature products from such brands as L’Oreal, Maybelline, Revlon, CoverGirl, Sally Hansen, Essie and Nicole by OPI. Additionally, beauty advisers staffing the departments will offer makeup tips and advice to customers who desire assistance in perfecting their look, Sears reported.
According to Sears, the company decided to expand its beauty departments after the concept tested well in 13 stores across the country in 2010. The departments will include new fixtures in a dedicated space and will give customers access to these popular cosmetics brands at the mall, Sears reported.
"We are pleased to offer our customers a comprehensive assortment of the cosmetics, skin-care and nail-care brands not typically found in department stores at the mall," said Gary Schettino, VP/GMM, Sears men’s apparel and center core for Sears Holdings. "Our foray into beauty creates the perfect complement to our new approach to fashion at Sears. The introduction of affordable and well-known brands is another example of our continued commitment to offer our customers incredible value at a total style destination."
The introduction of beauty to Sears may give Sears Holdings a much needed boost in sales and profits. The company reported fourth-quarter sales of$13.1 billion, or $103 million less than the prior year.As a result of the sales decline, profits dropped to $374 million, or $3.43 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with $430 million or $3.74 the prior year.
Consumers could curtail spending in months ahead
NEW YORK — Concern about rising energy prices and higher medical costs has many Americans expecting to spend less in the months ahead, a recent Deloitte study revealed. Despite showing no signs of spending less in recent months, the Deloitte survey found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of Americans believe higher prices could slow their spending in the months ahead. Deloitte’s study also revealed that mobile and social connections are helping shoppers make savvier buying decisions in the wake of the recession.
According to the survey, more than seven out of 10 (71%) respondents cite concerns about higher energy prices, up from 54%at this time last year, and nearly one-half (47%) point to higher medical costs. Additionally, 44% indicate political unrest in other countries as a factor that could cause them to lower their spending.
While four out of 10 (43%) consumers surveyed feel the economy is still in a recession, Americans in higher income brackets appear to have a more optimistic outlook than those at lower income levels. Nearly half (45%) of households earning $100,000 or more say their confidence in the economy has improved over the past six months, compared with 24% among those earning less than $100,000.
"Consumers continue to be resilient and give retailers reasons to be optimistic, despite their apparent lack of confidence in the economy," said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail sector leader, Deloitte LLP. "With day-to-day expenses on the rise, retailers must be innovative and offer more than just low prices to attract customers. By interacting more intimately with consumers through mobile, social media and other emerging platforms, and articulating a message of value and quality, retailers will do well with worried shoppers."
Deloitte reported that its survey revealed consumers are having a harder time finding good deals.Just over one-quarter (27%) of consumers surveyed say stores are offering more value for their money, down from nearly half (45%) of consumers who said so at this time last year. Meanwhile, 60%search more online to get the best product or price.
When referring to the in-store experience, more than half of consumers surveyed (54%) reported less sales help in the stores. Almost one-third (32%) said stores are running out of merchandise faster, and shoppers appear to be turning to their mobile phones to locate product inventory and seek guidance in the shopping process.
Among survey respondents who own a Web-enabled smartphone (32%), more than four out of 10 (43%) said they have used it specifically in a store to assist in their shopping; 37%wanted to use their phones while in a store but couldn’t because of connectivity issues. Additionally, four out of 10 (40%) consumers surveyed interact with retailers through social networking sites to find out about promotions, browse products, or review recommendations.
"Consumers are challenging retailers to be creative and deliver a multi-channel experience that stands out," continued Paul. "Many retailers are considering investments such as providing Wi-Fi connectivity in the store which is an excellent way to connect with the shopper at the right time during the buying process. Of course, training for store associates needs to accompany these infrastructure changes to be sure associates are knowledgeable and ready for this more informed consumer."