Medical Benefits Out, Madonna and Martha In at Macy's (M)
There is an unconfirmed rumor that Macy's will be cutting jobs and eliminating the health benefits of some full-time employees as it cuts their hours to part-time. It wasn't a banner year for Macy's in 2009 and the retailer may need the extra cash for an exclusive designer deal with Madonna, which is also, as yet, an unconfirmed rumor.
Its celebrity partnership with Martha Stewart is not a rumor, however, and the Martha people have made it pretty clear that they are glad to finally be out of their Kmart contract which was once worth $1 billion, but netted Martha just a fraction of that in 2009. Customers purchasing the Macy's Martha Stewart Essentials for gifts will have one added hassle in the future, though, because Macy's has decided to discontinue the gift wrapping service in all of its stores.
RadioShack (RSH) Pedals Its Brand on Bicycles
RadioShack is a major sponsor of Lance Armstrong's cycling team for the first time this year. Retail NASCAR sponsors and retail Super Bowl commercials are common, but the Radio Shack sponsorship of a cycling team seems like an odd connection. A retail chain that sells geeky electronics paired with a sport enjoyed by fitness and outdoor enthusiasts?
If nothing else, though, "The Shack" is wise to plaster its big red logo on the chest of Lance Armstrong to let the world know that the Radio Shack brand still exists.
Follow the Leader Out of America's Car Mart (CRMT) Stock?
When the top leader of a company sells his or her stock in a not-so-great investment market, it could give investors pause. After CEO William Henderson has sold 1,500 shares of his CRMT stock every month for the last six months in a row, it would seem that would cause a very long pause for investors. Does Mr. Henderson know something about the future of America's Car Mart and should his investors be following the leader and divest themselves of their own shares?
Caribou Coffee (CBOU) Goes Pound-for-Pound with Customers For Charity
When customers purchase Caribou Coffee's new Pass the Goodness blend, the Starbucks rival chain will donate a pound of its house blend to local food charities. The company's goal is to donate (which also means sell) 35,000 pounds of coffee , which Caribou says is a highly requested, but infrequently donated item at food charities. That's a good thing to remember for the next Thanksgiving food drive!
Nordstrom (JWN) Up in Customer Service, Not So Up In Sales
While investors and company leaders were no doubt thrilled to see both a plus sign and a double digit in Nordstrom's January same store sales report, the 14% uptick is not as far up as it seems considering the 18% decrease it was being compared to the year before. In fact, Nordstrom's total January 2010 sales of $543 million landed between its 2006 and 2007 January sales figures. So if "better than 2006" is something that makes Nordstrom investors and leaders happy, then it was a good month.
One thing that was definitively improved for Nordstrom in 2009 was the retail chain's customer service rank. Of all the companies in the U.S., Nordstrom ranked #6 for customer service on the latest Business Week Customer Service Champs list. This is an improvement over its 2008 rank of #13, and it makes Nordstrom the fourth best for retail customer service, according to consumers surveyed. Even though the high-end department stores had fewer customers in 2009 who spent less money, the customers who did shop at Nordstrom felt even more valued than they had the year before. Kudos go to the Nordstrom team for that. It's a short-term effort that will undoubtedly pay off in customer loyalty points for years to come.
TJ Maxx (TJX) In Court For Catching a Criminal
A Nebraska woman is suing TJ Maxx for making her an unwitting participant in a sting operation that caught a man who was taking pictures up women's skirts. Allegedly, TJ Maxx security employees knew about the man's untoward behavior, but decided they needed to catch him on video before they contacted the police. So they watched while the man committed the crime against one of their customers and called the police afterwards. The company has not denied that any of this occurred, its argument so far is that it was okay that it all happened the way it did.
So, I guess the message to TJ Maxx customers is that you don't have to worry about your security in a TJ Maxx store because there will always be a store camera ready to record a crime as it is perpetrated against you? TJ Maxx, by the way, did not make the 2010 Customer Service Champs List. And I guess now we know why.
Victoria's Secret (LTD) Facebook Fans Are Just In It For the Discounts?
According to marketing research company ForeSee Results, 49% of Facebookers who are fans of a retail company want deals, and 45% want to see new products, and one of the retailers that does that best is Victoria's Secret. The Big Money "Facebook 50" was also impressed with Victoria's Secret and ranked the chain's Facebook page as the sixth best of all corporate fan pages.
It's easy to see that the 2.8 million Victoria's Secret fans are engaged with the site, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that the fans are engaged because of great marketing strategy, deals, or update posts any more than Playboy subscribers are reading the articles. The Victoria's Secret Facebook page has a tab called "Bombshell," which pretty much sets the tone for the site. As long as there are photos and videos allowed, I think it's safe to say the chain will be popular wherever it goes in cyberspace.
And now that most of the readers of this blog have now clicked over to the Victoria's Secret Facebook page, it's seems like a natural ending point for this post. More U.S. retail industry news updates to come later in the week.More Top Retail Industry Stories: