Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 19, 2013 03:42 PM
Happy holidays from the PR grinch! Target confirmed today that a security breach compromised the credit and debit card data of an estimated 40 million US customers, setting off a dizzying social media firestorm as the biggest shopping season of the year rounds out.
“Target’s first priority is preserving the trust of our guests and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence," Gregg Steinhafel, Target's chairman, president and CEO said in statement. “We regret any inconvenience this may cause. We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.”
Online customers were not affected as the breach appears to have occurred at POS systems in Target stores, though it covers customers that used the store's own REDcard as well as other debit and credit cards. “Point-of-sale systems have become a major target for cybercriminals in recent years," the New York Times notes. "By breaching point-of-sale systems, they can steal the so-called track data on credit and debit cards, which can be sold, in bulk, on the black market and used to create counterfeit cards.”
The massive breach occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec.15 and “involves the theft of information stored on the magnetic stripe on the backs of cards used at nearly all of Target's stores around the country,” according to national computer security expert and former Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs, who first reported the breach on his KrebsOnSecurity.com site. Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on December 18, 2013 01:56 PM
In the marathon called the holiday shopping season, retailers are pulling out all the stops in the final lap.
Already under fire for preempting Black Friday by opening their doors on Thanksgiving, some retailers are now staying open every day, all day and all night, until Christmas. Kohl's, for example, will open at 6 a.m. on Friday, December 20 and operate until 6 p.m. on Christmas eve—111 hours straight of being available to holiday shoppers. Toys R Us will follow a similar pattern, opening at 6 a.m. on Saturday, December 21 and remaining open until 9 p.m. on December 24. The toy chain's Times Square location in New York City has already been open for 24 hours since December 1.
One reason for this madness: The holiday shopping season is protracted, thanks to Thanksgiving being late this year. "There's no question that the shortened holiday season has put both retailers and consumers in a rush to make the most out of the time that's left before the big day," Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, told The Huffington Post. According to the Federation, as of December 9, half of consumers still have their holiday shopping left to do, while a Consumer Reports poll indicated that nearly a third of American shoppers had yet to buy their holiday gifts.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 16, 2013 10:14 AM
Despite a firestorm of criticism over a product recall, management shake-ups, and inappropriate comments from its eccentric founder, upscale athletic fashion retailer Lululemon Athletica recently reported increased profits and revenue in the third quarter.
The Vancouver-based company most known for its yoga apparel said profits rose 15 percent to $66.1 million, or 45 cents per share, for the three-month period ending Nov. 3. Revenues climbed to $379.9 million from $316.5 million for the quarter, beating expectations of $374.6 million. But the company's recovery may come to a halt next quarter, with projections for same-store sales coming in flat—collateral from a year of struggle for the company.
Perhaps a holiday blessing for Lululemon will be the pending departure of outspoken, controversial founder Dennis J. Wilson, known as Chip, who will be stepping down as chairman of the board, though he'll remain a member.
Wilson most recently ignited a firestorm after telling Bloomberg TV in November that "some women's bodies just actually don't work," for the company's famed yoga pants, the focus of a March recall that shed a spotlight on the company's flawed supply chain and quality control issues. Wilson's comments irritated an already inflamed sentiment that the company neglected plus-size women—an issue that it has yet to address.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 9, 2013 02:06 PM
Hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert has made enough smart choices to become a billionaire, but one decision has surely been haunting him for some time now. When he decided to combine Kmart and Sears back in 2005 for $11 billion, there was no way he’d know that it would mean a continued downward spiral for his new company.
After all, Sears and Kmart were once retail titans. Now they are slowly being crushed by the likes of Walmart, Target, and online retailers of all stripes.
Sears, of course, has been doing all it can to survive. The company has tested localized personal shopping, taken its in-house brands – Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard – out of house, sold its Canadian real-estate holdings in October for $383 million, and even set up a whole section on its website using “undead” models to appeal to younger consumers. But nothing has turned it around.
Now Sears Holdings will follow through on an idea it floated back in October: spinning off clothing retailer Land’s End. According to the Chicago Tribune, the spinoff “will not raise cash for Sears but will allow Lampert to more efficiently chart a course for the two businesses, which compete for management time and capital within the Sears group.” Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on December 4, 2013 03:58 PM
Maybe November wasn't such a turkey after all—for JCPenney, at least. The still-beleaguered retailer reported a 10 percent increase in comparable-store sales for the month, thanks to a strong Black Friday and, presumably, the conclusion by American consumers that the brand isn't dead just yet.
While most retailers have bemoaned the overall results of Thanksgiving weekend and aren't sure their promotional aggressiveness will serve them much better this month, JCPenney reported that its online sales were strong. Notably, it was the second consecutive month for which the retailer reported comparable-store sales, according to TheStreet.com, after dropping monthly reports two years ago.
And JCPenney CEO Myron Ullman took a minute to crow, sort of. "We are pleased with our performance over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, particularly in light of the continued spending pressures on consumers," he said in a press release. "The combination of our great merchandise and compelling promotions put us in a position to succeed in a highly competitive environment, and our teams executed very well."Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 2, 2013 04:52 PM
It’s tricky to find consensus on the success of this weekend’s spending, but one thing is a fact—Black Friday marked the first billion-dollar-plus day of this year’s holiday shopping season.
Accorind to comScore, consumers spent $1.2 billion online, with sales up 18.9 percent this year from last as retailers pushed their open hours from Friday to Thanksgiving day.
"Consumers appear to have responded to retailers' strong push to get them in the stores and online early this year," Shawn DuBravac, CEA chief economist and senior director of research, told USA Today. "The dust is still settling, but early indications point to a weekend of record-breaking online sales and a healthy appetite for key tech products."
ShopperTrak reports that sales were off 13.2 percent on Black Friday, but with more stores open earlier on Thanksgiving this year, and for longer hours, the combined sales of Thursday and Friday were actually up 2.3 percent over the same two days last year. Still, a more somber take from the National Retail Federation puts the weekend spend at about $1.7 billion less than in 2012. “There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face,” Matthew Shay, CEO, NRF, told the New York Times. “So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets.”Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 27, 2013 07:02 PM
Thanksgiving is a time to share with loved ones, express gratitude, and take stock of the ad frenzy that is holiday shopping. And with brands turning the clock forward on Black Friday promos, marketing teams are in an all-out race to grab the attention of savings-hungry consumers.
According to research from Shareablee, of the top 25 retailers on Facebook in the first half of November, Walmart accounted for 27 percent of the total shares by fans, followed by QVC with 9 percent, and Macy’s and Nordstrom at 8 percent. On Twitter, BestBuy is dominant with 30 percent of retweets in the category, followed by Nordstrom at 9 percent, Ebay and Target at 8 percent respectively and Walmart at 6 percent.
Target has outpaced all retail competition with six times more Black Friday posts than any other brand, while JCPenney’s one Black Friday post earned the highest level of engagement with over 54,000 likes, comments and shares.
Are you planning on braving the crowds? If so, here's some offers to keep an eye out for:Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 27, 2013 03:52 PM
America has successfully exported its Black Friday retail frenzy the UK and Canada, despite the fact that neither celebrates Thanksgiving. Apple, Amazon, and Asda (owned by Walmart) are offering their US Black Friday deals to UK consumers at 20 percent off this weekend, while native retailers like Debenhams, John Lewis and Selfridges are getting in on the Black Friday action with what they call "Christmas comes early" sales.
"This shows how online is driving the retail agenda. Apple and Amazon offer deals in the US and they don't want their UK customers to feel cheated," Donald Shields, multichannel strategy director at SapientNitro, explained to Ad Age. "This has obviously come from online—there's no Thanksgiving and no Friday off to go out shopping—but it's picking up momentum in stores as well, and translating into a physical retail event."
With online spending in the UK expected to jump 20 percent to $8 billion between now and Christmas, according to Deloitte, retailers are happy to adopt another US concept: Cyber Monday.
But Kevin Gill, managing creative director of Start JG, thinks the shopping events lose a little luster outside the US, where they just seem like another sale. "It seems a little bit cynical to plug into a US event when we don't have the event that precedes it—are they going to import Thanksgiving next?" he told Ad Age. "It's a more natural extension for U.S. retailers like Amazon and Apple, but Debenhams feels a bit of a stretch. If retailers embraced it and did something special it might work, but just offering 20 percent off is a bit shallow."Continue reading...