TECHNOLOGY

Walmart pledges up to $20 million in hurricane relief

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is significantly expanding its Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced they have committed up to $20 million in support of relief efforts in response to the severe weather impacting the Gulf region. This is an increase from the retailer's previously announced $1 million of in-kind donations for immediate relief.

Walmart operates nearly 600 namesake and Sam's Clubs stores in Texas. The chain's new commitment includes $10 million to help support of American Red Cross shelters and $2 million in support of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

In addition, Walmart said it would match customer donations two to one with cash and product donations of up to $10 million to assist the Red Cross with Hurricane Harvey relief. Walmart’s initial focus will be on mega-shelters, providing items to meet basic needs, such as water, infant formula, diapers, underwear and personal hygiene products. It also hopes to increase comfort in the shelters by providing items such as TVs, DVDs, games and stuffed animals for children and healthy snacks.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will also give additional cash and product donations totaling $10 million to support the Salvation Army, Feeding America, Convoy of Hope, Team Rubicon and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, as well as other organizations assisting food distribution, sheltering and cleanup efforts.

Walmart has been heavily involved in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts to date. It has shipped more than 1,060 truckloads to the impacted areas, including over 930 truckloads of water; opened a mobile pharmacy in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, with another pharmacy being sent to Houston to provide prescription-related counseling at no cost to evacuees; and provided matter experts in logistics and emergency management to assist local emergency operations centers and with establishing local shelters.

In addition, local Walmart stores in the Gulf region have provided food, merchandise and other supplies, such as baby formula, batteries and kayaks to first responders, the National Guard, police and fire departments, churches and shelter organizations.

“Our Texas family of customers and associates are experiencing devastating impact from this storm,” said Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart. “We are on the ground to help our friends and neighbors in the Gulf region, and we’ll continue to be in the tough days, weeks, and months ahead.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Shoppers look for deals

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As much as today's shoppers want convenience, they also prioritize saving money and will make time to uncover the best deals online and offline.

Over half (53%) of consumers indicated they invest over two hours a week looking for deals and savings across all sources, according to a survey from Valassis. About 25% of millennials and moms spend over four hours a week in their search for value.

According to the “2017 RedPlum Purse String Survey," in taking advantage of deals, 41% of respondents said they use an equal mix of print and digital coupons — up six percentage points from last year. More than half (52%) print out digital coupons for use in stores. Meanwhile, 71% said they would use a featured coupon code from a print advertisement to buy online. This group increases to 78% for millennials and 79% for affluent shoppers ($100K+ household income).

Mobile also plays a key role in how consumers save. More than three quarters of respondents and 93% of millennials use mobile while in a store to look for coupons and discounts.

Additionally, more than half of millennials said they have used their mobile device to compare deals online and in-store. Showcasing the power of mobile and geolocation data, 57% of consumers said they have visited a business after receiving an offer on their mobile device when they were near that location.

Other multichannel consumers’ savings habits include:

Ordering more items online to qualify for free home delivery (31%), and using pick up in store services (15%);

Using more print coupons (57%); and

Using more mobile coupons and apps (42%; 55% for affluent shoppers, and 52% among millennials).

“Consumers are embracing a multitude of channels to browse, research, compare prices and make purchases,” said Curtis Tingle, chief marketing officer, Valassis. 'This is keeping marketers of both small and large businesses on their toes, as they work to disrupt consumers’ non-linear shopping journeys. Our recent research indicates that shoppers don’t necessarily delineate between the physical and digital shopping worlds; they want to be able to redeem print and digital deals both in-store and online.”

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Moody’s: Amazon is ‘weakest’ of large retailers

BY Marianne Wilson

Amazon isn't as dominant as is widely believed — at least not according to a new report from Moody's Investor Services.

Yes, the online giant continues to outpace other retailers when it comes to online sales growth, and its stock has gone through the roof. But it falls behind its large competitors in some key areas, according to Moody's VP and lead retail analyst Charles O’Shea, reported MarketWatch.

“Although Amazon’s share price is outperforming retailers, conventional methods of evaluating operating performance, such as operating margin or any profitability measure, suggest that Amazon is actually the weakest of the large retailers, excluding sales growth,” O'Shea wrote in a report. "And even based on that measure, one could argue that Amazon has been ‘buying’ sales for the past 15 years, considering profits have not been its primary focus — unlike other retailers.”

The report noted the crucial role the company's cloud services business, Amazon Web Services, has played in its growth.

"In terms of total revenues, Amazon continues to grow product sales in the mid-teens, which we note is lower than many brick & mortar retailers’ online growth,” O'Shea wrote. “But again, that growth is nowhere near the retailers’ overall profit levels.”

For more, click here.

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