Friday Tipsheet: Amazon Sun. Delivery Expands | Wmart Last in Cust. Service | Costco Piano Skills


“Amazon, Postal Service Start to Implement Sunday Delivery across the U.S.; mid-March Launch in St. Louis” by Kavita Kumar at St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  “Packages (will) be delivered from about 15 hubs in the St. Louis region, with a goal of each carrier’s delivering about 12 parcels an hour. The estimated volume for St. Louis area ZIP codes is more than 7,000 packages for Sunday delivery…“It’s a big, big deal,” Long said. “…it’s just another incremental loss for brick and mortar.”  Read more


“Amazon to deliver on Sundays in St. Louis” at Fox 2 TV in St. Louis.  See the video


“10 Retailers With the Worst Customer Service (Walmart ranks lowest)” by Alexander Hess and Douglas McIntyre at Time.  “No retailer had a worse ACSI score than Wal-Mart’s 71 for customer satisfaction. Not only did the company have the lowest score of any department or discount store, but it also scored just 72 when graded as a supermarket — the lowest in that sector as well.” Read more


“Home Depot has 500 Parking Lots Ready for your Shop” by Maria Halkias at Dallas News.  “Home Depot, Wal-Mart, H-E-B, Lowe’s and other large store operators are carving out half-acre and 1-acre parcels to sell or lease in the parking lots of their older stores. In major markets such as Dallas, those pads can fetch $1 million or more from the restaurants, banks and smaller retailers that want in.”  Read more


“How Amazon is clobbering Walmart in mobile paid search” by Chantal Tode at Mobile Commerce Daily.  “New data from AdGooroo shows that generated 82.6 million paid search impressions in mobile during January, compared to 6.6 million for, pointing to how bricks-and-mortar retailers remain hesitant to spend on mobile advertising.”  Read more


**A message from Pro-Chlor Septic Tabs. Use it, or be fined. Homeowners with Aerobic septic systems are required to use septic tabs to chlorinate their system or face fines upon mandated inspections. Talk about a retail traffic driver…and wait until you see the margins! Are you selling aerobic septic tablets? Get in on the action, contact Andy today at for product information.


“Wal-Mart gobbles up Seattle-based recipe startup Yumprint” by Teresa Novellino at Puget Sound Bus. Journal.  “Prior to the acquisition, Yumprint has flown under the radar, but we now are learning that it is a website, iPhone app, and browser extension that helps users discover, search and save recipes from more than 20,000 websites, and helps shoppers create their grocery lists. It powers the displays for more than 2,000 food blogs.”  Read more


“Little Kid Amazes Costco Shoppers With Piano Skills (‘Free Sample’ Kid Nearly Ruins the Show!)” by Isaac Saul at HuffPo.  “The last thing you’d expect to get at Costco is a free concert.  But for a few unsuspecting customers, that’s exactly what happened. While shopping with his parents, a fedora rocking child name Felipe stopped at a piano in the store’s musical instruments section and started breaking it down.”  See the video


“Pew Research Study:  Only 11% of those surveyed would have a ‘hard time’ giving up Social Media” by Jeff Bercovici at Fortune.  “The drop in attachment to television is notable: In 2006, 44% said it would be very hard to give up. It’s even more striking when you break the results down by age, with only 12% of those in the 18-to-29 demographic answering that way.”  Read more


“Russia’s Online Retail Leader Says ‘Amazon Has No Chance’ “ by Diane Brady at Bloomberg.  “The dark horse leading the race right now is Ulmart, an online retailer that reported $1.2 billion in sales last year. It has succeeded by doing what Amazon does not. Instead of wooing customers with low-cost home delivery, Ulmart encourages them to pick up their orders at urban outposts and warehouses that double as stores.”  Read more


“Salon Hit on Walmart:  “Cult-like, corrupt and Christian conservative: Inside the campus group creating Wal-Mart managers” by Josh Eidelson.  “An insider reveals how Wal-Mart’s favorite campus group curries favor with business while pushing gospel to kids.”  Read more


Follow @retaileyeretail


Thursday Tipsheet: Most Admired: Costco #12, H.Depot #40 | Target & Lowe’s Call Highlights | Sam’s Quiet Test


“Target’s 4Q profit falls 46% after breach, Canada expansion” by Jennifer Bjorhus at Star-Tribune.  “Bottom line, results and outlook were not good,” Binder said. “But expectations were worse.”  There was legitimate good news in Target’s earnings, Binder said: U.S. sales continue recovering from the hit of the breach, use of Target’s Redcard continues to climb and the company cut stock buybacks but didn’t eliminate them altogether, as feared.”  Read more


“Fortune:  World’s Most Admired Companies 2014 (Amazon #2, Costco #12, Target #29, Home Depot #40…)”  See the Top 50 List


“Sam’s Club Quietly Tests Online Subscription Service as Threat From Amazon Grows” by Shelly Banjo at WSJ via Yahoo.  “Called “My Subscriptions,” the service mirrors Inc.’s Subscribe & Save program, which was launched in 2007 and has given the Internet retailer a foothold in sales of basic consumer products. Sam’s Club, a unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is launching the service as Amazon prepares to move deeper into the business itself.” Read more


“The Most Powerful Sales Tool at Lowe’s: Satellites” by Kyle Stock at Bloomberg.  “Lowe’s said on Wednesday that it has been gauging traffic at its almost 1,900 stores from space, scanning satellite images of its parking lots to find out how many shoppers it can expect at every hour of every day. It has also starting syncing its parking lot observations with actual transaction counts to see how many people drove away without making a purchase.”  Read more


“Costco’s Auto Program Expected to Sell 375,000 New Cars this Year “ by Philip LeBeau at CNBC.  “We really save the members a lot of time by doing all that legwork on their behalf,” said Jeff Skeen, general manager of Costco Auto Program. “They would rather spend their weekends doing something else than haggling with car dealers.”  Skeen says Costco car buyers wind up paying about $1,000 less than those who visit dealers on their own trying to get the best deal possible.”  Read more


**A message from Bunker Buddy. The golf aid that gets you out of the bunker and on the green in one shot. No more blading the ball or getting stranded in the sand. Place the Bunker Buddy disc behind the ball, swing behind the disc, the ball propels out of the bunker on a cushion of sand. Retail ready, peggable clamshell, 6/case. See it in action / watch the video  Request product sheet:


“Why Amazon Prime shoppers may flee with fee hike” by Lou Carlozo at Reuters.  “In a survey of more than 6,400 current Prime customers, Prosper Insights & Analytics found that 63 percent of consumers would pay only the current $79 fee for Prime – and no more. An additional 29 percent would pay $89-$99, and only 8 percent would pay $109 or more, a $30 minimum increase.”  Read more


“Dollar Tree Same-Store Sales up 1.2% in Q4”  “For fiscal year 2013, the Company’s consolidated net sales were $7.84 billion, compared with 2012 sales of $7.39 billion. Comparable store sales increased 2.4%, on top of a 3.4% increase last year.”  Read the release


“Sears Lost $358 Million During The Holiday Quarter” by Phil Wahba at Reuters via Business Insider.  “The retailer reported a net loss of $358 million, or $3.37 a share, in the quarter ended February 1…Sales fell 13.6 percent to $10.59 billion.”  Read more


“Best Buy Cuts 2,000 Managers” by Adam Belz and Steve Alexander at Star-Tribune.  “Best Buy apparently told about 2,000 managers around the United States on Wednesday that they were being laid off…The layoffs will affect about 1.4 percent of Best Buy’s 145,000-person workforce.”  Read more


“Best Buy shares jump after profit beats” at MarketWatch.  “Best Buy shares jumped in premarket trade Thursday after it said it swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $293 million, or 83 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $409 million, or $1.21 a share.” Read more


“Highlights from Target’s Q4 Earnings Call”


Gregg Steinhafel (Chairman, President, CEO)

We are pleased that our early cycle Canadian stores have seen the most improvement giving us confidence that we will continue to see continued improvement across all our Canadian stores in 2014.

U.S segment fourth quarter sales were running ahead of plan prior to December 19th.

(Seeing) high single digit comparable sales in our second year CityTarget stores.

Plan to open our first (Target Express) location in our home market in July so we can carefully study both operational and financial results before we determine our plans to expand this format to other markets.

The team’s number one operational focus (in Canada) is on in-stocks.

The guests who have REDcards continue to shop our stores.


Kathy Tesija (EVP Merchandising)

Electronics saw an increase in Q4 comparable sales led by mobile phones, tablets and video game hardware and software. We also saw relative strength in our sporting goods and housewares categories.

Thanksgiving was our biggest digital sales day ever with mobile devices accounting for a full 25% of those sales.

In-store pick up requests represented about 10% of fourth quarter digital orders.

About 30% of store visits to pick up an online order resulted in store shopping on that same trip and the size of that store transaction was much larger than an average store trip.

Cartwheel app: ended 2013 with over 5 million users, more than half of its users are Millennials, a much higher percentage than they represent in our overall guest base.

Earlier this month, Target began offering AMBAR a new apparel collection designed with the Latina guest in mind. AMBAR is set in 50 U.S. stores this month and is also available on

Target will offer an exclusive addition of Catching Fire the second film in The Hunger Games trilogy…includes 45 minutes of exclusive content.

Have expanded the Target Beauty Concierge’s program to more than 300 stores.

Continue to see great results from the pilot of our new baby layout.


John Mulligan (CFO)

2014 outlook:  Our current view is that U.S comparable sales will grow in the range of 0% to 2% in 2014.

In Canada, we expect total sales will be approximately double our 2013 experience.

Q1 outlook:  In the U.S we expect first quarter comparable sales in the range of flat to down 2%. So far in February comparable sales have been running within that range

Read the Q4 Target Earnings Transcript


“Highlights from Lowe’s Q4 Earnings Call”


Robert Niblock (Chairman, President, CEO)

15 new Lowe’s stores planned:  6 in the U.S., 4 in Canada, and about 5 down in Mexico. 5 new Orchard Supply stores planned.


Greg Bridgeford (Chief Customer Officer)

At the end of the quarter, we had completely finished the first round of value improvement line reviews and substantially all of the associated resets.

Resets completed in the fourth quarter include core products like pliers and wrenches, décor products such as bathroom vanities and pedestal sinks, and seasonal products such as house and patio plants.

We will also focus on three priorities: First, we will use our enhanced selling and operations planning process to address micro-seasons by market. Second, we will improve our product and service offering for the pro customer. Our third priority will be to build customer experience design capabilities.

We grouped (Pro) categories into the leadership of a general merchandise manager who is focused on ensuring we have the types of products and brands that pros demand.

In Q2 we will re-launch, which will provide a dedicated platform for pro customers to purchase online from Lowe’s.

So we have got a very, very heavy focus on (Pro) right now

Q4: tickets above 500 were 8.9% comps, tickets below 50 were 1.2% and the middle was – the 50 to 500 was 2.2%.

We hit historical highs in sales of snow throwers.    

Bob Hull (CFO)

Total transaction count increased by 4.4% and total average ticket increased 1.1% to $63.08. Looking at monthly trends, comps were 3.3% in November, 6.3% in December and 1.4% in January.

For the year, we expect total sales increase of approximately 5% driven by a comp sales increase of 4% and the opening of approximately 15 big-box stores and 5 Orchard Supply locations.

Categories that stood out in Q4: The biggest one in the fourth quarter was outdoor power equipment. We also had strength in snow throwers and then appliances and fashion fixtures.

Read the Q4 Lowe’s Earnings Transcript


Follow @retaileyeretail

Wed. Tipsheet: Q4 Comp: Target -2.5%, Lowe’s +3.9% | H.Depot Call Highlights | Target Attacks P&G


“Target Q4 Same-Store Sales Down 2.5% in U.S.”  “In fourth quarter 2013, sales decreased 6.6 percent to $20.9 billion from $22.4 billion last year, reflecting the impact of an additional accounting week in 20125 and a 2.5 percent decrease in comparable sales, partially offset by the contribution from new stores.”  Read the release


“Target posts earnings of 81 cents a share vs. 79 cents a share estimate” at CNBC.  “Revenue slipped to $21.52 billion from $22.73 billion a year ago.  Analysts had expected Target to report earnings of 79 cents a share on $21.45 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.”  Read more


“Target attacked P&G over Amazon Pact:  Fewer Endcaps & ‘Category Captains’ “ by Serena Ng at WSJ via Yahoo.  “In addition, Target encouraged some suppliers that compete with P&G to work together on promotions, like offering discounts on combined purchases of their products, another person said.  The moves were aimed at sending a message after senior Target executives learned P&G was working closely with Amazon, people familiar with the matter said.”  Read more


“Target Q4 Earnings Webcast today at 9:30 am central time”  Webcast link


“Lowe’s Q4 Same-Store Sales Up 3.9%; Up 4.8% for Fiscal Year”  “Sales for the fourth quarter increased 5.6 percent to $11.7 billion from $11.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, and comparable sales increased 3.9 percent. For the fiscal year, sales were $53.4 billion, a 5.7 percent increase over fiscal year 2012, and comparable sales increased 4.8 percent.”  Read more


CNBC headline: “Retailer Lowe’s earnings match expectations” “Lowe’s, the No. 2 U.S. home improvement retailer, reported a 6.3 percent rise in quarterly profit, helped by a nearly 4 percent rise in same-store sales.  Shares of Lowe’s were higher in premarket trading following the announcement.”  Read more


“Lowe’s Q4 Earnings Webcast today at 9:00 am ET”  Webcast link


“Publix Opens First Store in North Carolina Today” by Ely Portillo at Charlotte Observer.  “Publix operates almost 1,100 stores, clustered in the Southeast and stretching from Florida to North Carolina. In addition to its planned 14 Charlotte-area stores opening over the next two years, the company is opening supermarkets in Cary, Winston-Salem and Asheville.”  Read more


**A message from Bunker Buddy.  The golf aid that gets you out of the bunker and on the green in one shot.  No more blading the ball or getting stranded in the sand. Place the Bunker Buddy disc behind the ball, swing behind the disc, the ball propels out of the bunker on a cushion of sand. Retail ready, peggable clamshell, 6/case. See it in action / watch the video  Request product sheet:


“Cramer: Finally! A retailer that can beat Amazon” at CNBC.  “Jim Cramer says he’s finally found a company that can beat Amazon:  Zulily, the online shopping portal that offers daily deals for moms and children. “This is the first company that has said ‘we can beat Amazon,’ and I believe them, I think they can beat Amazon. Why? Because they are a technology company in the women’s apparel business. It’s a revolutionary company.”  See the video / Read more


“Macy’s to offer online ordering for in-store pick-up” by Alexander Coolidge at Cincy Enquirer.  “Chief financial officer Karen Hoguet told analysts on a conference call the program is being expanded after months of tinkering with the concept at 10 stores in Washington, D.C. “Based on the positive results, we’re now rolling this out to all of our stores,” she said.”  Read more


@BrianSozzi: “3 Reasons Target is Failing in Canada” “Sozzi’s sources on the ground in Canada have told him a disturbing series of accounts and continue to send him pictures that paint the business in the most unflattering of ways.” See the video


“Heard on the Home Depot Q4 Earnings Call”

Frank Blake

Canadian business had positive comps above the Company average.

(We’re) very, very pleased with it (Canadian performance). And our Canadian business is doing well in an environment where our competitors, Rona and some others are having great difficulty.

Mexican business positively comped for the quarter making it 41 quarters in a row of positive comp growth.

The Western division was our strongest performing division…about twice the company average.

Appliance market share:  We have picked up about a 180 basis points of share in the quarter and that compares to about a 170 basis points on a rolling 12 which would be over the four quarters.


Craig Menear

Departments that outperformed the company’s average comp for the fourth quarter were indoor garden, kitchens, outdoor garden, plumbing, electrical and tools.

Bath hardware, paint, décor, lighting, flooring, millwork and lumber performed positively.

Comp sales in building materials were negative.

Maintenance and repair categories like pipe and fittings, air circulation, cleaning and HVAC had comps above the company average. We also saw continued strength in light bulbs, where sales posted a double-digit positive comp for the fourth consecutive quarter.

The drivers behind the increase in big ticket purchases were appliances and the continued recovery of our pro customer.

New Product/Brand Callouts:

Brown Jordan (high-end patio furniture), Sunbrella, Weber’s Spirit Series grill, KitchenAid grills, Eagle (cordless power), Delta’s ActivTouch, Polar (toilet seat with LED lights!), Rheem water heaters (for Pros).


Carol Tome

Comp sales for U.S. stores were positive 4.9% for the quarter. With positive comps of 3.7% in November, 7.8% in December and 3.8% in January.

For the year, we expect comp sales growth of approximately 4.6% and total sales growth of approximately 4.8%.

I will also note that the extreme winter weather in February hasn’t been our friend, but our February comps are positive.

As we look at sales against opening price points of good, better, best, all the way to premium, we have seen growth in premium priced products in all four quarters including this last quarter.

Read the Home Depot Q4 Earnings Call Transcript


Follow @retaileyeretail

Tuesday Tipsheet: H.Depot US Comps +4.9% | Wmart $1.1 Bil into Mex. | Kroger/Safeway @ 5%


“Home Depot’s Q4 Same-Store Sales Up 4.9% in U.S.; Up 7.5% for Year (Strongest in 14 Years)”  “The Home Depot today reported that comparable store sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 increased 4.4 percent, and comp sales for U.S. stores were positive 4.9 percent.  Total sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 were $17.7 billion, a 3.0 percent decrease from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012.”  Read the release


CNBC’s take:  “Home Depot 4Q mixed, boosts quarterly dividend”  “Home Depot’s fiscal fourth-quarter net income dipped 1 percent, hampered by bad winter weather and one less week in the period.  Still, its earnings topped Wall Street’s view, and the No. 1 home improvement-retailer raised its quarterly dividend by 21 percent. It provided a fiscal 2014 earnings forecast below analysts’ expectations.”  Read more


“Wal-Mart’s Mexico Division to Spend $1.1 Billion to Expand Chain” by Lauren Coleman-Lochner at Bloomberg.  “The company expects to spend 8.4 billion pesos opening stores, adding 3.7 million square feet of space, according to a statement yesterday. Mexican floor space will grow 5 percent, with Central American stores expanding 7.6 percent.”  Read more


Walmart’s David Cheesewright, CEO Int’l: “We’re seeing economies under stress pretty much everywhere we operate.” by Amy Guthrie at MarketWatch.  “Wal-Mart represented 32% of sales at Mexican brick-and-mortar retail establishments last year, according to company data and to Mexican retail association Antad. Euromonitor International estimates that the company accounts for at least 19% of Mexican grocery sales, including those at convenience stores.”  Read more


NY Times: “Target Push Into Canada Stumbles” by Ian Austen.  “Perhaps the most surprising thing about several Target stores visited over a three-week period was the large number of empty shelves and clothing racks…several analysts suggest that the company may also have problems with its supply chain management system. Differences in Canadian packaging laws, protectionist tariffs on some foods and exclusive wholesale arrangements mean that the Canadian stores cannot be serviced from the company’s American distribution network.”  Read more


“Target Reports Quarterly Results Tomorrow, First Time it Has Faced Wall Street Since Breach” at Reuters. “Target had originally planned to buy back up to $4 billion of shares this year, but analysts do not expect it to achieve that goal as it sets aside money to deal with the data breach and try not to borrow more so it can maintain its credit rating.”  Read more


“5% Chance that Kroger might be Interested in Safeway” by Alexander Coolidge at Cincy Enquirer.  “Perkins guessed there was a 5 percent chance Kroger might be interested in Safeway.  There are a host of problems with such an acquisition. One is that federal regulators likely would conduct an exhaustive antitrust review of a proposed marriage of the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 supermarket chains.”  Read more


“Hy-Vee Expands into the Twin Cities” by Mike Hughlett at Star-Tribune.  “Hy-Vee is planning its first foray into the Twin Cities with four to six stores, a move that could shake up the grocery market here.  The Des Moines-based company announced the expansion on Monday, saying it will either build new stores or redevelop existing properties. The company declined to give store location details, but it’s currently working on one site in New Hope.”  Read more


“OfficeMax Q4 Same-Store Sales Down 4% in North America”  “Same-store sales decreased 4% primarily due to lower average order values, and lower transaction counts resulting from decreased store traffic.”  Read the release


“True Value Q4 Same-Store Sales Up 2.1%”  “President and CEO John Hartmann: “Our largest increase in both retail and wholesale comp store sales was in the farm, ranch, auto & pet product category. This category was up at wholesale 11.2 percent. We added 137 new hardware stores in 2013, a combination of new ground up stores and conversions from other distributors.” Read the release


“PWC Survey of 15,000 Online Shoppers”  “Among U.S. survey respondents who do not use their mobile phones or smartphones for shopping, 32 percent say they do not own mobile/smartphones and 33 percent said device screens are too small. However, as screen sizes get bigger and more consumers obtain newer mobile devices, mobile shopping will likely accelerate.” Read the release


“National Mourning for Dead Sears & Dead Kmart has Officially Begun” via @BrianSozzi.  “There is one huge happening at Sears that nobody is talking about, except us at TheStreet. Unbeknownst to many, there has been an acceleration of store closures at both Sears and Kmart post holiday and BEFORE the company’s recent loss per share report. No press releases have been issued. The Sears PR team has offered a boilerplate statement with little compassion to lost jobs from stores that have been staples of the community for 30+ years.”  See the video


Follow @retaileyeretail

Monday Tipsheet: Top 500 Brands | Top 10 Innovative Retailers | Top 23 New Products


“Brandirectory:  The World’s 500 Most Valuable Brands (Walmart #9, Home Depot #25, Target #56…)”  See the Top 500 list


“Walmart and The Container Store Have Something Surprising In Common (But Walmart doesn’t Get the Love)” by Laura Heller at Forbes. “No one seemed to question The Container Store’s motives or accuse stores of not paying enough to keep employees from need. The opposite was true of that one program at the single Walmart store.  Same sentiment, different reaction.” Read more


“Target to take aim at slumping Canadian sales” by Marina Strauss at Globe & Mail.  “Perry Caicco, retail analyst at CIBC World Markets, predicts Target Canada will focus even more on its food business in its efforts to be seen as an everyday-shopping destination.  He estimates that Target generated up to $130-million in grocery sales here in 2013, but needs to raise that to the $700-million to $800-million range in 2014 for its business model to work.”  Read more


“Neiman Marcus Hackers Set Off 60,000 Alerts While Bagging Credit Card Data” at Businessweek.  “The 157-page analysis, which is dated Feb. 14, also shows that the Neiman Marcus breach is almost certainly not the work of the same hackers who stole 40 million credit card numbers from Target , said Aviv Raff, an Internet-security expert.”  Read more


“Attention Shoppers: Meet the Winners of the 2014 Product of the Year Awards” by Kate Rockwood at Parade.  “A panel of 40,000 American shoppers, reflecting the diversity of our ­national popu­lation, choose the products they like best, from all aisles of the supermarket and beyond. Perhaps what’s most interesting is what the winners say about us. Read on to learn the shopping trends that the 23 items represent…” See the top 23 products


“How It’s Made: Sam’s Choice Aluminum Cans” at Discovery/Science Channel.  See the video


“The New Yorker’s Snarky Take on Cabela’s” by Amy Merrick.  “To accommodate their bulk and the crowds that they attract, Cabela’s stores are often built next to interstates and surrounded by giant parking lots. Generally, the only wildlife in sight are the crows picking over the litter. Some of the newest branches are on the edges of cities—Denver, Austin—that epitomize sprawl.” Read more


“The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Retail (Amazon #2, Walmart #5…)” at Fast Company.  See the Top 10 list


“Costco Teams with Hertz in UK:  Rent a Van to Haul your Treasure Hunt Home”  “Costco members will have the ease of renting a Long Wheel Base Ford Transit Van from any of the 25 Costco warehouses in the U.K., to drive the goods purchased to their homes without any delay. This self-drive service will be available to Costco customers at a cost-effective price, with hourly rentals starting as low as £13 or US$22 per hour.”  Read more


“Salon’s Hit on Amazon: “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers” by Simon Head.  “Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across and combines state-of-the-art surveillance technology with the system of “functional foreman,” introduced by Taylor in the workshops of the Pennsylvania machine-tool industry in the 1890s.”  Read more


Follow @retaileyeretail

Friday Tipsheet: Wmart Call Highlights | Sam’s Struggles | Rona Likes Quebec


“Walmart tamps down Dollar Store acquisition talk, says its smaller stores bring in 4-7 times the sales of a Dollar Store” by Shelly Banjo at WSJ via Yahoo.  “Many of the dollar stores aren’t equipped with gas stations, pharmacies or the ability to sell fresh and frozen food. “We would have to pay a premium for locations that aren’t perfect and plow cash into retrofitting,” Bill Simon said.  Wal-Mart’s smaller stores bring in anywhere from four to seven times the sales that dollar stores do, he said, so “we’re able to build the sales with fewer physical footprints.”  Read more


“Man who switched price stickers at Home Depot gets 2½ years in prison” at USA Today.  “The fraud was simple but lucrative: They took bar code stickers off inexpensive items and placed them on goods that cost more before paying at a self-checkout register. The items later were returned to Home Depot with the original higher price code.”  Read more


“U.K. Retail Sales Decline Most Since April 2012” by Fergal O’Brien at Bloomberg via SF Gate.  “Sales including fuel plunged 1.5 percent from December, when they surged 2.5 percent, the Office for National Statistics said today in London.”  Read more


“Nordstrom Q4 Comp Sales:  Full-Line Stores Down 3.3%, Rack Stores Up 3.6%”  Read the release


“Quebec gets tough on hostile takeovers, Former Rona CEO sat on Panel” by Sophie Cousineau at Globe & Mail.  “The measures, should Quebec businesses choose to use them, would make it nearly impossible for a corporate predator to acquire a public company against the will of its board of directors.”  Read more


Heard on Walmart’s Q4 Earnings Call yesterday (We listen to it so you don’t need to):


Bill Simon, President & EVP Walmart U.S.

Q4 net sales up 2.4%. For the 14 weeks ending January 31, comp store sales were down 0.4%, with ticket up 1.3% and traffic down 1.7%.

Comp sales declined 0.6% for the 53-week period ending January 31

Positive sales comp during the 6-week holiday season ending December 27, 2013.

E-commerce contributed approximately 30 basis points to the total Walmart U.S. comp in Q4.

New Pennsylvania dotcom fulfillment center opens within the next few weeks.

Opening between 270 and 300 small stores this fiscal year.

Total incremental square footage is anticipated to be between 21 and 23 million square feet, versus our previous guidance of 19 to 21 million square feet.

Denver grocery test: Almost 90% of the customers rate the service above average or outstanding.


Q4 Comps / Share:

Grocery comp was in the low single-digit negative range.

Strong mid-single-digit positive comps in produce and adult beverages; positive comps in other fresh departments, including meat, deli and bakery.

Health & wellness delivered a low single-digit positive comp. Our prescription business was particularly strong, with a mid-single-digit positive comp due in part to inflation.

Entertainment, including toys, posted a mid-single-digit negative comp.

Home business reported a low single-digit positive comp. Bath & bedding, cooking & dining, delivered strong mid-single-digit positive comps.

Apparel business delivered a low single-digit positive comp. Cold weather apparel and active wear posted particularly strong comps.

Gained share across all of our tracked general merchandise categories, including entertainment, toys, automotive, stationery, home and apparel, for the 13 weeks ending January 4, 2014, according to The NPD Group.

Grocery, which includes food and consumables, gained 24 basis points of market share for the 13 weeks ending February 1, 2014 according to The Nielsen Company.


Brand Call Outs:

Calphalon, Farberware, Keurig, SodaStream, Avia, Russell


David Cheesewright, President & CEO International

U.K: Q4 net sales increased 1.3%, while comparable sales declined 0.2%. Traffic increased 0.2%, offset by a ticket decline of 0.4%.

Canada: Q4 net sales grew 0.4%, while comp sales decreased 1.7%. Comp traffic decreased 2.7% with ticket increasing 1.0%.

Mexico: Q4 net sales increased 3.1% over last year, but comparable stores sales decreased 1.6%.

Brazil: Q4 net sales grew 5.3%, with total comp sales up 4.6%.  Average ticket grew 8.0%, and traffic declined 3.4%.

China: Q4 sales grew 3.7% with comp sales up 0.4%. Comp was driven by an 8.6% increase in ticket, while traffic declined 8.2%

Japan:  Q4 Comp sales grew 0.7%, with an overall sales growth of 1.6%. Comp ticket grew at 3.0%, store traffic declined 2.3%.


Sam’s Club: Rosalind Brewer, President & CEO

Comp for the 14-week period ending Jan. 31, 2014, excluding fuel, declined 0.1%, comprised of a traffic increase of 1.2% and a ticket decline of 1.3%.

Business member traffic and ticket were both negative this quarter.

E-commerce sales contributed approximately 40 basis points for the 14- week comp period ending January 31, 2014.

Plan to open between 17 and 22 new, relocated, and expanded units this year.

We expect comp sales, without fuel, for the 13- week period from February 1 to May 2, to be relatively flat.


Q4 Comps / Share:

Low single-digit positive comp within fresh, freezer and cooler.

Fresh sides and fresh meat both delivering low single-digit positive comps for the quarter.

Grocery and beverage reported an essentially flat comp. Unit growth in our snacks category. Declines in weather-sensitive categories, such as juice and water.

Tobacco low single-digit negative comp.

Market share gains in categories like table top, trash bags, and food storage, as measured by The Nielsen Group for the 13-week period ending January 18, 2014.

Declines in our pet business, resulting in a flat comp for consumables.

Health and wellness delivered a low single-digit positive comp. Over-the-counter sales decelerated from the prior quarter.

Home, apparel and hardlines delivered a mid-single-digit comp.

Technology and entertainment, mid-single-digit negative comp. Technology and entertainment has been challenged over the past year, experiencing deflationary pressures and ever-changing member preferences.

Read the Full Q4 Earnings Call Transcript


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Have a great weekend!





Thursday Tipsheet: Wmart: US Comps -.4%, More Express Stores | Family Dollar/Wmart Merger?


“Breaking:  Walmart Q4 US Comp Sales Down .4%;  Accelerating Express Store Rollout”  “We’re also pleased with how well the 20 Express stores are doing, and we’re expanding our pilot beyond the initial three markets….We will now open between 270 and 300 small format units this year, which will nearly double our fleet and fuel growth as we enter the next generation of retail (Bill Simon).”  Read more


“Walmart Mexico Cracks Code for Speedy, Same-Day Grocery Delivery” by Amy Guthrie and Shelly Banjo at WSJ.  “Mexico, one of Wal-Mart’s largest foreign markets, provides $27 billion in annual sales and contributes 6% of the company’s global sales. Superama helped Wal-Mart achieve a 92% market share in the home delivery of groceries in Mexico, company officials say.  The Mexican e-commerce team is advising Wal-Mart China on grocery delivery, figuring that practices in Mexico should work well there as both countries have a low wage base, very dense urban areas and low banking-service penetration.”  Read more


“Lowe’s Hiring Fewer Seasonal Employees This Year (25K vs. 45K LY)” by Ely Portillo at Charlotte Observer.  “Lowe’s Inc. said Wednesday that it plans to hire 25,000 temporary seasonal employees to help with the spring rush, fewer than the number of seasonal workers Lowe’s hired last spring…Lowe’s hired 45,000 temporary employees last spring, as well as 9,000 permanent part-time workers…Lowe’s spokeswoman Karen Cobb said the company hired more workers overall in 2013, and needed fewer seasonal workers this year as a consequence.”  Read more


“Report: Stolen Target data losing value on black market” by Nick Woltman at Twin Cities.  “The price for payment card information stolen from Target shoppers has fallen off more than 70 percent since news of the breach first broke on Krebs’ website on Dec. 18.”  Read more


“ACSI Customer Satisfaction Study:  Costco Up, Target Tumbles, Lowe’s Beats Home Depot, Amazon Beats Everybody”  “Among specialty retailers, including wholesale warehouse clubs, office supply chains or clothing stores, Costco regains the lead with a 1% uptick to 84, and Lowe’s (+4%) at 82. Home Depot improves 3% to 79, but doesn’t catch Lowe’s, which has held the customer satisfaction advantage in home improvement for over a decade.”  Read the release


“Walmart to acquire Family Dollar?  Don’t bet on it” by Jon Ogg at 24/7 Wall Street via Yahoo Finance.  “As this is a proxy for market share, we think the WalMart-Family Dollar combination could have the least risk of opposition from the FTC. We think WalMart could pay a 20% to 30% premium for Family Dollar in an immediately accretive deal…Our bet is that Walmart may have a hard time with regulators in acquiring a single company in the United States in any sector.”  Read more


“Wal-Mart denies mulling support for wage hike” by Erik Wasson at The Hill.  “Wal-Mart on Wednesday shot down a report that it is considering whether to support an increase in the minimum wage.  Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that Wal-Mart was looking at supporting an increase…But Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar told The Hill that the company is simply evaluating the financial impact on its bottom line of various proposals.”   Read more


“Kroger’s ‘Simple Truth’ Chicken Claims Alleged to be Simply False” by Lauren Zanolli at Triple Pundit.  “The suit alleges that Kroger deliberately misled consumers with labeling on its Simple Truth chicken products that claimed the animals were raised in a “cage-free” and “humane environment” when in fact, the case claims, the chickens were raised under standard commercial farming practices.”  Read more


“Minnesotans Sticking with Target, 82% Visiting Store as Often as Before Hack” by Jennifer Bjorhus at Star Tribune.  “Brian Yarbrough, a consumer analyst at Edward Jones & Co, said the loss of some shoppers shouldn’t be that surprising for Target. But the fact that a large majority of those polled said they won’t change their shopping habits is a “pretty good” number for the retailer, he said.  “I have always said 5 to 10 percent will never shop there again,” Yarbrough said.”  Read more


“$2.89 wine is worth a trip to Aldi” by Robert Scheer at Indy Star.  “The shiraz tastes like it should, with good fruit flavors that remind me of blackberry, and some smokiness that’s reminiscent of South African pinotage. I’d buy it again. You can do a lot worse for $10, more than triple the cost of this.”  Read more


Mark your Calendar:

2/24/14:  Walmart Int’l Meeting in Mexico.  Read more

2/26/14:  Lowe’s Q4 Earnings Call.  Read more

3/3/14:  Home Depot Presents at Raymond James Investor Conf.  Read more


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Wednesday Tipsheet: Target: Inside Account of Response | Obama Loves Safeway | Wgreen CEO #19


“The Inside Account of How Target Executives Responded to Cybertheft” by Monica Langley at WSJ.  “How Target executives responded to one of the biggest challenges in the company’s history is based on interviews with Mr. Steinhafel, Mr. Jones, Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan and other top executives…Mr. Steinhafel’s days have been especially hectic since the crisis began. One day earlier this month, he hit the gym at Target’s headquarters at 4:30 a.m. for a high-intensity P90X cross-training workout. Later, he reviewed loss leaders (including 24-set crayon boxes) for next-fall’s “back-to-school” season, then sneaked into a Target store for an inspection, noticing that there weren’t enough carts in the entry and that a mannequin had an out-of-place arm.”  Read more


“How many of the groceries sold at Walmart would be banned by Whole Foods?” by Ben Blatt at Slate.  “Given the popularity of processed foods among American shoppers, and the disdain for preservatives in health food circles, it’s perhaps not surprising that one out of every two products sold at Walmart has an ingredient banned by Whole Foods. Consider the soft drink category. Of the soft drinks sold at Walmart, approximately 97 percent contain ingredients that Whole Foods considers “unacceptable.”  Read more


“Walgreen CEO Greg Wasson Named 19th Most Powerful Person in Chicago” at Chicago Magazine.  See the 100 most powerful people in Chicago


“Are Grocery Stores Doomed?” by Clare O’Connor at Forbes.  “KRS surveyed over 1200 shoppers and found that 77% percent of respondents across all three demographics – Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers – bought groceries from a non-grocer in 2013.What’s more, a full 96% of those surveyed said they’ll be buying groceries from places other than grocery stores in 2014.” Read more


“KRS Study:  Target is Favorite Place to Buy Groceries (Outside of Grocery Stores)”  See the report and Top 20 favorite places


“Obama gives speech at Safeway DC; Has ‘soft spot’ for Safeway as Grandmother used to send him there” at Washington Post.  See the 1 minute video


“Barack Obama and Safeway: A love story” by Jaime Fuller at Washington Post.  “Obama’s many mentions of Safeway are perhaps understandable outside of politics, given that the grocery store is inarguably the most influential on the D.C. social circuit. Case in point — before Obama’s inauguration in 2009, wax replicas of the soon-to-be president watched over Safeway checkout lines across Washington, D.C.  But, one D.C. Safeway rules them all — the Georgetown’s incarnation, also known as “Social Safeway.” Read more


“Cabela’s retail expansion began at Kearney site” by Mike Konz at Kearney Hub.  “I had the opportunity to have dinner with Dick and Mary Cabela on a couple of occasions when Dick would come out in his camouflage tuxedo to hand deliver bonus checks,” Robinson said. “From the kitchen table in small-town Nebraska to hundreds of millions of dollars in payroll, Dick created one of the greatest and most enjoyable success stories in Nebraska.”  Read more


“Rona misses expectations as weak economy, housing starts hurt 2013 results” by Ross Marowits at Montreal Gazette.  “Same-store sales fell 3.5 per cent due to poor weather in Ontario and Quebec in December, although the key sales measure turned positive in Ontario and Western Canada following Rona’s decision to close 11 underperforming stores in Ontario and B.C.”  Read more


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