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Walmart will cancel three D.C. stores if wage bill passes

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Walmart confirmed in an op-ed in the Washington Post that it will pull the plug on three planned stores in the Washington, D.C., area if the D.C. Council passes a bill setting a higher minimum wage for large retailers. The bill, the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) of 2013, is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday.

The bill would require large retailers with stores over 75,000 sq. ft. and parent companies grossing at least $1 billion per year to pay a "living wage" of $12.50 an hour. (The District has a minimum wage of $8.25.)

“Like any business, we have a responsibility to our customers, employees and shareholders to re-evaluate our options when it looks like local rules may significantly change," Alex Barron, a regional general manager for Wal-Mart U.S. responsible for about 90 stores, including all planned stores for Washington, D.C., wrote in the op-ed. “The LRAA would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that will create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores.

As a result, Barron wrote, Wal-Mart will not pursue stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway, and New York Avenue, if the LRAA is passed.

“What’s more, passage will also jeopardize the three stores already under construction as we will thoroughly review the financial and legal implications of the bill on those projects,” Barron wrote.

The D.C. Council is set to take its second vote on the bill tomorrow, after it passed it on an 8-5 first vote last month. If it passes again, it will go to Mayor Vince Gray, who has not stated whether he will sign or veto it.

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Frost & Sullivan: Global online revenues to hit $4.3 trillion by 2025

BY Marianne Wilson

London — Global online retail revenues will reach $4.3 trillion in 2025, accounting for nearly 20% of total retail, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan. In leading markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom, nearly 25% of retail will be online, the study said.

"The proliferation of connected devices and the availability of faster internet speeds have catalyzed a change in shopping behavior and fuelled market expansion," said Frost & Sullivan Visionary Innovation Research Group Analyst Archana Vidyasekar. "Innovative business-to-consumer logistic models and the growing influence of social media, along with the convenience of online product research, comparison shopping and competitive pricing, have helped convert many online browsers to online shoppers."

The fast pace of urbanization is further transforming brick-and-mortar retailing from big-box to small-box formats. By 2020, retailer store sizes will shrink by 15-20%, according to the report. Other new retailing modes like interactive stores, click-and-collect, social commerce and virtual stores are imminent as retailers look to extend customer touch points.

The virtual store, in particular, is an excellent example of a bricks and clicks model that has effectively leveraged emerging technologies like augmented reality. Retail giants such as Tesco have found success with virtual stores in countries like South Korea where smartphone penetration is extremely high. The company’s online sales increased by 130% within months of the launch of its virtual store home shopping app, which is also the most downloaded app in Korea.

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34th America’s Cup defenders to don Banana Republic apparel

BY CSA STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO — Banana Republic has been named the formal attire supplier for Oracle Team USA as it defends its title at the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay in Sept.

"It’s an honor to be associated with Oracle Team USA, the local champion defending the America’s Cup in our hometown, and wardrobe the team with formal suits and dresses from Banana Republic," said Banana Republic global president Jack Calhoun, referring to the retailer’ roots in San Francisco, where it was founded 35 years ago. "It’s exciting for Banana Republic and Oracle Team USA to celebrate this partnership together here in San Francisco."

Banana Republic is also leveraging social media to cross-promote the partnership, inviting fans of its apparel as well as of the race to “join the conversation on Twitter” by using hashtags #OracleTeamUSA and #AmericasCup. When the hashtags, which are followed by fans of either the race itself or the U.S. team specifically, appear on @BananaRepublic, it allows the retailer to reach out to new potential shoppers. Banana Republic, therefore, is enticing a potentially new audience onto its e-commerce site and brick-and-mortar stores by showcasing its line on the U.S. team members and cementing itself as a brand in the digital space.

Banana Republic can be found in more than 650 company-operated and franchise retail locations in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Italy, France, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

Oracle Team USA won the 33rd America’s Cup in February 2010, and team owner Larry Ellison got to bring the cup home. Led by CEO Russell Coutts and skipper Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA is made up of the best international sailing, design, build and support talent.

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