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Philly-area Giant home to fourth Peapod wareroom in Keystone State

BY Michael Johnsen

Ahold Delhaize’s Peapod, along with its sister division Giant Food Stores, on Thursday opened its newest wareroom in North Coventry, Pa.

“We want to thank greater Philadelphia Peapod and Giant customers as they have responded positively (and literally) with open doors since 2011 to our service, leading to tremendous growth in this market,” Walt Lentz, Peapod’s acting president, said. “The new wareroom will allow us to increase capacity and meet the larger demand but we are also proud to bring 120 jobs to North Coventry. Shoppers choose Peapod because they know they can rely on us to deliver convenience, personalized solutions and great value on everyday essentials they care about the most.”

“We want to be the ultimate meal planning and grocery solution for our customers,” John Ponnett, senior vice president, retail operations, Giant, said. “The growth we are seeing tells us that our customers want what we all want – choices. We get it. That’s why we provide offer a great in-store experience as well as the option of online grocery shopping and home delivery through Peapod.”

This will be the fourth Peapod wareroom to open in Pennsylvania. The investment in a new distribution location comes as Peapod has experienced double digit growth in the region for the last three consecutive years.

With more and more shoppers embracing the convenience of online grocery delivery, the new wareroom will enable Peapod to serve up to 25% more shoppers in the greater Philadelphia area.

Peapod and Giant will be hosting a grand opening event on Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. at the wareroom, located within and attached to the Giant store in Pottstown, Pa. Executives from Peapod and Giant will be speaking along with local representatives.

In honor of the opening, Peapod will be making a donation to the Coventry Food Pantry at the ceremony.

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Retail sales decline during January

BY Marianne Wilson

Retail sales fell 0.26% in January, the biggest decline in 11 months, but increased 5.4% year-over year, according to the National Retail Federation. (The NRF numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.)

The January numbers follow 5.1% unadjusted year-over-year growth in holiday sales during November and December, which was revised down slightly today from the 5.5% initially reported. December was revised to be down 0.1% from November seasonally adjusted.

“These numbers reinforce a positive start to 2018 that reflects ongoing consumer optimism brought about by solid economic fundamentals,” NRF chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Some observers are spinning this as a disappointing month, but you’ve got to keep in mind that we’re coming off one of the strongest holiday seasons in years. It’s also difficult to draw conclusions from month-to-month changes because of the huge seasonal-adjustment factors.”

The January results comes as NRF is forecasting that 2018 retail sales will increase between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017.

Most economists were not worried by the January dip and noted that the fundamentals are still in place for steady retail growth.

“With jobs growth still strong, consumer confidence at an unusually high level and the recent tax cuts providing a one-off boost to disposable incomes this month, the near-term prospects for consumer spending remain fairly bright,” Andrew Hunter, U.S. economist for Capital Economics, told the AP.

Specifics from key retail sectors during January include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 13.2% year-over-year and were unchanged from December.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 6.6% year-over-year but down 0.4% from December seasonally adjusted.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 6% year-over-year but down 2.4% from December seasonally adjusted.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 3.1% year-over-year and up 1.2% from December seasonally adjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 3% year-over-year and up 0.2% from December seasonally adjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 2.9% year-over-year and up 0.5% from December seasonally adjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 1.8% year-over-year but down 1.2% from December seasonally adjusted.
  • Sporting goods stores showed the only year-over-year decrease, down 5.9% and also down 0.8% from December seasonally adjusted.

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Sam's Club
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Sam’s Club launches free shipping, simplified membership structure

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Sam’s Club is making changes as it looks to compete head-on with rivals Amazon and Costco.

The warehouse club chain is rolling out free shipping on “most of the items” sold online, including nearly every Member’s Mark private-label item, with no minimum purchase required, the retailer said in a blog on its website. The news comes one month after the retailer abruptly closed 63 stores, and said some of the shuttered locations would be turned into fulfillment centers.

Sam’s Club also added that its efforts will be supported by tighter supply chain operations. The company is on track to open its first e-commerce fulfillment center in Memphis, Tennessee, with the first packages expected to ship in early spring.

Looking ahead, the retailer plans to bolster this network “in the back-half of the year,” with more distribution centers. Other regions being considered for fulfillment centers include Texas, Central Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, Southern California, Chicagoland, and the Northeast.

“Our Memphis center will teach us a lot as we build out this new e-commerce supply chain,” Jamie Iannone, CEO, SamsClub.com and executive VP of membership and technology, said in the blog.

These new distribution centers will be augmented by up to 12 of the closed locations that will be converted into regional e-commerce fulfillment centers.

Sam’s Club is also “simplifying” its membership structure. Going forward, there will be two levels of membership: Club and Plus. Club (formerly Sam’s Savings) will be $45 a year, and Plus will be $100 annual fee. The company is also lowering the fee for additional Club memberships to $40.

These rates take a direct hit at Amazon, which charges $99 a year for its Prime membership. However, Sam’s Club’s new shipping program does not offer free two-day shipping.

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