OPERATIONS

Walmart pulls plug on three stores after D.C. Council OKs wage bill

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Walmart said it was walking away from its plans to build three stores in Washington, D.C., after the city council passed a bill on late Wednesday setting a higher minimum wage for large retailers.

”This was a difficult decision for us — and unfortunate news for most D.C. residents — but the Council has forced our hand,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo in a statement released after vote, which passed 8 to 5.

The Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) of 2013 requires large retailers with stores over 75,000 sq. ft. and parent companies grossing at least $1 billion per year to pay a “living wage” starting salary of $12.50 an hour. (The District has a minimum wage of $8.25.) Under the terms of the bill, large retailers have four years to comply with the requirements.

The bill could still be blocked if D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray vetoes it or if Congress uses its local control to keep the legislation from taking effect.

Wal-Mart had warned in an op-ed article in the Washington Post on Tuesday that it would pull the plug on the three stores planned for the District (at Skyland, Capitol Gateway, and New York Avenue if the council passed the bill.) It also warned that it would reevaluate its plans for three other stores in the District.

“The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Wal-Mart comes or stays,” said council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), a lead backer of the legislation, in a report by The Washington Post. “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

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Nordstrom, Macy’s and Saks top digital department store study

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Nordstrom emerged as the top brand in an inaugural benchmark study ranking the digital performance of the world’s top department stores by digital think tank L2. Among the 40 stores included in the study, Nordstrom was No. 1, followed Macy’s, Saks, and the U.K.’s Marks & Spencer, all of which earned ‘Genius’ titles.

"Successful department stores are investing in digital infrastructure to bolster their in-store offerings. These forward-thinking retailers improve shareholder value through sophisticated e-commerce, strong email marketing and CRM, and innovative mobile efforts,” stated Scott Galloway, author, 2013 Digital IQ Index: Department Stores.

Key highlights of the study include:

  • Canadian retailers send the most marketing emails (6.45 per week), followed by American retailers (5.62 per week) and U.K. retailers (2.38 per week).
  • Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, and Bloomingdale’s all have larger communities on Google+ than on Facebook.
  • Haul videos continue to be popular, especially those that feature apparel purchases, though few brands are purchasing ads to link back to their e-commerce sites.

The top 10 ranked brands in the study are:

  1. Nordstrom
  2. Macy’s
  3. Sakes Fifth Avenue
  4. Marks & Spencer
  5. Neiman Marcus
  6. Bloomingdale’s
  7. Net-A-Porter
  8. House of Fraser
  9. Bergdorf Goodman
  10. John Lewis

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North American retailers offer Bangladesh safety plan

BY Staff Writer

New York — A group of 17 North American retailers, including Walmart, J.C. Penney, Gap, Target and Macy’s, on Wednesday announced a five-year safety pact aimed at improving conditions in garment factories in Bangladesh. It calls for inspecting all factories that supply their garments within a year, and an agreement to set up basic safety standards within three months.

The announcement by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety comes after a separate safety plan was announced on Monday by a group of mostly European companies.

The North American plan pledges $42 million for worker safety, and more than $100 million in loans and other financing to help factory owners in the country correct safety problems. It is backed by a number of groups, including the American Apparel & Footwear Association, Canadian Apparel Federation, National Retail Federation, Retail Council of Canada, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and the United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel.

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