Thursday Tipsheet: Wmart Closes Loophole | Target & Lowe’s Call Highlights | Ugly Sweaters


“Wal-Mart closes loophole on PlayStation 4 scam” “We’ve updated our policy to clarify that we will match prices from and 30 major online retailers, but we won’t honor prices from marketplace vendors, third-party sellers, auction sites or sites requiring memberships.” Read the release


“Nearly a year after breach, Target has its turnaround moment” by Kavita Kumar at Star-Tribune. “It feels like they’re getting back to what drove them in the ’90s and what has differentiated them from Wal-Mart and Amazon,” (Brian) Yarbrough said…“They are getting their mojo back,” (Jason Long) said. “It’s a big deal going into the holidays, and great news for Cornell.” Read more


“Family Dollar postpones shareholder vote on $8.5B Dollar Tree merger” by Jennifer Thomas at Charlotte Bus. Journal. “Family Dollar Stores Inc. has delayed a scheduled shareholder vote on its proposed $8.5 billion merger with Dollar Tree Inc. until Dec. 23.
The Matthews-based discount retailer initially planned to hold a special meeting for that vote on Dec. 11.” Read more


“Amazon robots prepare for Christmas” by Greg Bensinger at MarketWatch via WSJ. “The Seattle online retailer has outfitted several U.S. warehouses with squat, orange, wheeled robots that move stocked shelves to workers, instead of having employees seek items amid long aisles of merchandise, according to people familiar with the matter.” Read more


“Shoppers skeptical of Black Friday deals” by Krystina Gustafson at CNBC. “A separate report by America’s Research Group, released Wednesday, came to a similar conclusion. It found that 60.5 percent consumers who are not planning to shop on Black Friday may change their mind if the Thanksgiving Day newspaper inserts grab their attention. That compares with only 17.6 percent who said so last year.” Read more


“Walmart Wants to Be the Next Ad-Tech Star” by Lauren Johnson at AdWeek. “Within the past year, Walmart Labs has hired 1,000 workers, employing a total of 3,500 people, and has acquired 14 startups. While notable mobile, social and e-commerce tools have made Walmart the poster child of the innovation lab craze, the company’s goal of becoming a tech company on par with Facebook and Google is perhaps most interesting.” Read more


“Here’s who’s really winning Canada’s grocery wars” by Jamie Sturgeon at Global News. “Although Walmart has gained considerable share through its accelerating Supercentre rollout, Costco’s share gains have been even more pronounced,” analysts at financial services firm Raymond James said in a recent research note.” Read more


“Australian woman is first (only) in line at new Costco (she even got to sleep inside)” by Matt Gilbertson at Herald Sun. “Kelly was so keen to be first through the door that she camped out overnight, desperate to be the first customer. She was the only one who camped out. All she needed to buy was alfoil. Yes, really. The lovely Costco people even let Kelly sleep inside overnight for safety reasons.” Read more


“Walmart’s Weatherman” by Alison Griswold at Slate. “(Lucas) McDonald, who joined Walmart seven years ago after starting his career as a TV weatherman, said he often gets requests for an advance forecast, and tries to help managers understand “how accurate it may or may not be.” These days, he thinks the sector is getting hot: He’s seeing more and more TV meteorologists making the switch to the commercial sector.” Read more


“It’s official: Costco coming to south San Jose” by Nathan Donato-Weinstein at Silicon Valley Bus. Journal. “Costco is here tonight. They are anxiously awaiting your approvals tonight,” said Gerry De Young, president of Ruth and Going Inc., a consultant for Cupertino-based development firm Hunter/Storm LLC. “They are anxious to move forward.” Read more


“The Big Business of Ugly Christmas Sweaters” by Caroline Winter at Bloomberg. “I’ve never seen a product or category blow up like this,” says Meri Barnes, product and business developer for Michael Gerald, the company behind the kit. “Last year we sold more than 35,000.” This year, she expects that number to rise to 400,000.” Read more


“Cops: 350-Pound Thief In Motorized Scooter Caught Sitting On Stolen Walmart Steaks” at The Smoking Gun. “A 350-pound Walmart shopper was arrested yesterday after he was found sitting atop five stolen rib eye steaks in the seat of a motorized scooter that he was riding around the South Carolina store.” Read more



Highlights from Target’s Q3 Earnings Call


Brian Cornell

US segments saw positive comps in all three months of the quarter.

US traffic still declined slightly in the third quarter – performance was more than a full percentage point stronger than traffic trends through the first half of the year.

Increasing our focus on signature categories we can and should be known for. Categories like baby, kids, wellness and style.

It does not mean we are abandoning our other categories. But we will have different expectation for those categories compared to the ones in which we are investing to outperform.

Let’s drop back and make sure we clarify our point on the food category. We have no intentions today to streamline those categories. (Q&A)

In the past we have taken some initial steps to localize our store environment and assortment. But we have only scratched the surface to this opportunity.

This year we have developed and rolled out a new personalization engine which is currently generating product recommendations for guests on our digital platforms.

35,000 new items in stores for the holiday.


Comp Sales

Average ticket increased 1.6% in the third quarter driven by growth in average retail per item, partially offset by a decline in items per basket.

Q3 comparable sales performance was strongest in healthcare and beauty led by beauty which continues to benefit from this year’s store fixture innovations, and the introduction of new brands.

Third quarter comp sales in grocery were up in the low single digits

Hard lines (were) up slightly led by toys which saw a high single digit increase on strength in licenses like Frozen and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Comp sales in apparel were down slightly as strength in baby and kids was offset by softness in jewelry accessories and intimates.

From a mixed perspective it’s worth noting that our combined home or combined comp in home and apparel was the strongest we have seen in two years.

In October and early November, we completed the rollout of our new apparel fixtures and layout to an additional 600 stores bringing the total to about 650 locations featuring this enhanced presentation.



Digital sales were up more than 30% in the third quarter.

So far this year store pickup orders have averaged about 15% of digital traffic with more than 80% of orders ready within an hour.

With the (ship-from-store) rollout we are now shipping about 60,000 eligible products from 136 stores in 38 markets covering more than 90% of the US population.

Cartwheel, Target’s industry leading savings app:  from November 2nd to December 24th, it will feature 50% off, a different toy everyday.



Disney’s Frozen has been huge for us all year…600 Frozen products, 60 exclusive to Target across 20 categories.

In March 2015 Target is adding S.W. Basics of Brooklyn and Nuxe to its lineup of premium skincare products.

The (holiday ad) campaign will include broadcast, radio, out of home and catalogues and we are increasing digital media support by 50% over last year.

US REDcard penetration was 21% in the third quarter, up about 110 basis points from last year


Read the transcript via Seeking Alpha



Highlights from Lowe’s Q3 Earnings Call


Comp Sales

Comparable sales were 5.1% driven by an increase in comp average ticket of 3.4% and an increase in comp transactions of 1.7%.

The monthly comps were 3.5% in August, 5.2% in September, and 6.6% in October.

We had positive comps in all 12 product categories with particular strength in fashion fixtures, kitchen and appliances, millwork, and outdoor power equipment.

All 14 regions had positive comps.

Canada delivered double-digit comps in local currency for the sixth consecutive quarter.

Outdoor power equipment category experienced the strongest growth in the quarter with double-digit comps.

Our pro comps outpaced the company average for the 13th consecutive quarter.


Michael Jones Brand Mentions

Husqvarna, John Deere, Troybilt, Cobalt,  Osram Sylvania LED bulbs, Pilot brand InstaBoost jumpstarter, Kohler Pure Fresh, Bosch, Whirlpool, GE, Electrolux, Henry Coating (“Since adding the Henry brand, we have measured double-digit comp sales of roof repair and driveway sealer products in the markets where this relevant brand was added to our store”).



It was primarily appliance & big ticket categories doing better in the quarter. (Hull)

We also think that brands are important, particularly with our pro initiative, so that is a focal point the team has been working on to ensure that we have the right brands waiting in the store to resonate with the pro customer. (Niblock)

(Orchard Supply) added nothing to comps for the quarter. If we think about the size of the business, technically it was only in the comp base for two months, so really with or without Orchard, the comp number would not have changed. (Niblock)

The average pro spend is probably in the $2,000 range.  (Hull)

Yes, it does feel like we’ve got opportunity to continue to gain market share. (Niblock)

Think about 400 line reviews and the average line review had four clusters. There’s no way we got 1,600 clusters right, so there’s an opportunity to go back and refine the approach, dig into the demographics, the customer data, the performance to continue to refine the stats. (Hull)

On Tool Rental for Pro: It’s something we may look at doing in a better way in the future, but as of today we’ve not made any decisions regarding tool rental. (Niblock)


Read the transcript via Seeking Alpha




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