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ComScore tallies up holiday 2011 spending

BY Allison Cerra

RESTON, Va. — The November-December 2011 holiday season marked a new record in retail e-commerce spending, ComScore reported.

The season realized an overall gain of 15% versus last year, totaling $37.2 billion. This record was achieved with help from ten individual shopping days that surpassed $1 billion in spending, led by Cyber Monday — which ranked No. 1 for the second consecutive year — at $1.25 billion.

"With brick-and-mortar holiday retail estimated to have grown about 4% this year, it’s clear that e-commerce continues to gain market share from traditional retail due to the attractiveness of the Internet’s convenience and lower prices," ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said. "Consumers were especially attracted to the deals and discounts available through digital channels — particularly free shipping, which occurred on well over half of transactions this season. Despite their continuing price sensitivity, consumers felt a bit more comfortable opening up their wallets this year, although this appears to have occurred as a result of a decline in the savings rate. Nonetheless, it’s clear that, at least on the basis of top line growth, this was a Merry Christmas for many online retailers. What will remain unknown until retailers report their financial year end results is whether the aggressive pricing and free shipping offers came at the cost of lower margins."

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Stop & Shop renews commitment to children’s health with new promotion

BY Allison Cerra

PURCHASE, N.Y. — As part of its renewed commitment to help shoppers keep their families healthy, Stop & Shop has launched a new promotion that can benefit kids’ schools.

Now through March 28, parents can help earn triple A+ School Rewards for their child’s school by purchasing Healthy Ideas labeled products. Healthy Ideas is the supermarket chain’s product labeling and shelf tag system, which was launched in September and is designed to customers find healthy options as they shop the aisles.

Stop & Shop also will continue to host Kid Healthy Ideas, a field trip experience that reinforces the nutrition and healthy living curriculum taught in local schools via a partnership with Field Trip Factory, along with its Passport to Nutrition program. On Jan. 24, Stop & Shop also will host its Child Obesity Forum at the Stop & Shop store on Whalley Avenue in New Haven, Conn.

"With increasing rates of childhood obesity in this country, Stop & Shop provides kids with fun and interactive ways to learn about proper nutrition and health," said Arlene Putterman, manager of public and community relations for Stop & Shop’s New York Metro division. "There is no better place to start making healthy choices than at the supermarket."

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Shopko, Pamida to merge

BY Alaric DeArment

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mass merchandise retailers Shopko Stores and Pamida are merging, the two companies said Wednesday.

The combined $3 billion company will operate nearly 350 stores in 22 states, mostly in smaller and rural communities, with plans to add more stores starting in the second half of this year. Green Bay, Wis.-based Shopko and Omaha, Neb.-based Pamida currently have 149 stores in 13 states and 193 stores in 17 states, respectively. Financial details of the merger between the two private companies — both owned by affiliates of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sun Capital Partners — were not disclosed.

"Merging Pamida and Shopko is a great move for our businesses and our customers given our complementary strengths, store networks and consumer-centric retail models," Shopko chairman, president and CEO W. Paul Jones said. "The Shopko Hometown store format, featuring our unique merchandising strategy and improved store design, is an ideal fit for the smaller communities that Pamida serves with its exceptional service and community-minded approach. We intend to be the leader in this category by combining the best of Shopko and Pamida in our aggressive new store growth plans."

After finishing the conversion of Pamida stores to Shopko stores, the combined company will add new Shopko Hometown stores — which range from 15,000 to 35,000 sq. ft. and combine pharmacies with toys, electronics, clothing, lawn and garden products and other items — in the second half of 2012 and into 2013.

"This is an exciting move for Pamida, and the Shopko Hometown format will offer our customers an even better retail experience and a  new and differentiated product offering that is not currently available in the smaller communities we serve," Pamida president and CEO John Harlow said. "Pamida’s great associates, store locations, focus on personal service and commitment to giving back in our local communities are all ideal complements to Shopko."

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