Tipsheet: Fred’s Shutters 159 | Ollie’s Eyes +950 | Costco +5.7% | Bed Bath -1.4%


Costco March comp sales +5.7% (U.S. +6.9%, Canada +3.8%, Other Int’l +1.6%, Ecom +20.6%) Press release


Fred’s to close 159 stores and start clearance sales at 360 locations by Kelly Tyko at USA Today. “The closing stores represent nearly 29% of Fred’s 557 stores and are located in 13 states with Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee losing the most stores…Only 37 stores or 7% of stores are not included in either the clearance or liquidation sales.” Read more


Bed Bath & Beyond Q4 comp sales -1.4% Press release


‘Jeff Bezos challenges rival retailers to match Amazon’s pay and benefits by Lauren Thomas at CNBC. “Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone,” Bezos wrote in the letter.” Read more


…Here’s Jeff Bezos’ annual shareholder letter at CNBC. Read


Rite Aid Q4 Retail Pharmacy comp sales +0.7% (+2.1% pharmacy, -1.9% front-end sales) Press release


Walgreens will soon open primary care doctors offices in some Houston stores by Angelica LaVito at CNBC. “VillageMD will operate primary care clinics in five Walgreens stores, working with social workers, nurses and Walgreens’ pharmacists. The 2,500-square-foot offices will be inside the Walgreens stores, though they will have a separate storefront and a door connecting the two spaces.” Read more


Wegmans Tries Its Magic in New York City by Matthew Boyle at Bloomberg. “…perhaps the biggest challenge will be convincing New York’s notoriously finicky shoppers that Wegmans, unfamiliar to many locals, offers something unique. “I’ve been to Wegmans in Rochester,” says Ariel Lauren Wilson, editor-in-chief of Edible Brooklyn magazine. “Did I feel it was anything I couldn’t get in New York City? No.” Tiered subs.


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Shopko optical business going up for auction this weekend by Jeff Bollier at Green Bay Press-Gazette. “The auction documents identify as many as 80 locations that would become free-standing optical stores not tied to existing Shopko locations…Bidders will have until 4 p.m. Friday to submit bids for the optical business.” Read more


How Boxed saved women millions by eliminating the “pink tax” by Ben Paynter at Fast Company. “Earlier this week, (Mehta, Boxed’s director of marketing) shared the company’s experience during the introduction of a federal bill to eliminate the unequal pricing…The legislation is called the Pink Tax Repeal Act,  and it earned co-sponsorship from 28 representatives.” Read more


Nielsen: Share of click-and-carry sales grew from 4% to 11% of all CPG e-commerce sales in just two years by Kim Souza at Talk Business. Read more


Kohl’s CEO: Planet Fitness, Amazon partnerships are critical to right-sizing our stores at CNBC. “[Active and wellness] has doubled over the course of the last four years. It’s now 20% of our business,” Gass told “Mad Money’s” Jim Cramer. “As we look ahead, it’s going to be even more important.” Video/Read more


Court Deals Another Blow to Marble Ridge in Neiman Fight by Soma Biswas at Wall Street Journal. “On Tuesday, Judge Tonya Parker of the Dallas County District Court denied Marble Ridge’s request to dismiss Neiman Marcus’s countersuit against it for spreading false statements alleging the company had defaulted on its debt.” WSJ subs.


Amazon workers study conversations recorded by Alexa: report at The Hill. “The practice has exposed Amazon employees to recordings that would otherwise be private, according to Bloomberg. The outlet reported that Amazon employees have discussed in internal chat rooms amusing audio clips recorded by the Echo systems, as well as hearing recordings that are shocking or possibly criminal, such as possible sexual assaults, which two workers reported having heard.” Read more


REI made a record $2.78 billion, grew 6% and added more than 1 million new members in 2018 Press release


Japan’s convenience stores scale back as minimum wage rises by Elizabeth Shim at UPI. “…as a rising minimum wage could be impacting the bottom line of companies like 7-Eleven and FamilyMart…7-Eleven may be stepping back from a plan to add 150 stores across Japan, according to the report.” Read more


TechCrunch visits the startup behind Walmart’s shelf-scanning robots by Brian Heater at TechCrunch. ““If you think about it, what’s the last innovation that’s happened in a store?,” CTO and co-founder Sarjoun Skaff asks rhetorically. “I can think of self-checkouts and barcodes, really…” Read more


Amazon acquires Canvas Technology to bolster warehouse robotics capabilities by Nat Levy at GeekWire. “The company’s technology essentially boils down to driverless cars for warehouses. Canvas Technology uses “spatial artificial intelligence” and state-of-the-art cameras to help vehicles autonomously navigate through areas with a lot of moving parts.” Read more


Ollie’s Bargain Outlet CEO: We’ll open 950 stores at CNBC. “Brick and mortar isn’t dead. Ollie’s is thriving,” Butler said in a one-on-one with Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.” “Our shopping experience, it’s absolutely un-duplicable online. It just ain’t gonna happen.” Video/Read more


DHL launches Africa eShop app for global retailers to sell into Africa by Jake Bright at TechCrunch. “The platform goes live today and brings more than 200 U.S. and UK retailers—from Nieman Marcus to Carters—online in 11 African markets: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya,  Mauritius, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.” Read more


Stitch Fix’s head of men’s clothing is leaving to become CEO of online retailer Mizzen+Main by Lauren Thomas at CNBC. “Mizzen+Main is the favorite on-course dress shirt for three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, giving it a boost among golfers and other sports enthusiasts.” Read more


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