Black Friday Sales Hits Record, Retail traffic and Foot-falls up.

Preliminary reports for Black Friday indicate that retailers may have seen their strongest sales ever during the all-important kick-off to the holiday shopping season.

black friday sales

Retail sales on Black Friday climbed 6.6% this year to an estimated $11.4 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks foot traffic at malls and stores. Last year, sales climbed just 0.3% to $10.7 billion, which was a record one-day sales amount at the time, according to the company.

“This is the largest year-over-year gain in ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate for Black Friday since the 8.3 percent increase we saw between 2007 and 2006,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “Still, it’s just one day. It remains to be seen whether consumers will sustain this behavior through the holiday shopping season.”

However, sales have been strong throughout the entire month of November with retailers rolling out holiday deals earlier than ever. In the two weeks leading up to the week of Black Friday, retail sales were up 3.6% and 3.8%, respectively, ShopperTrak reported.

“Retailers continue to stretch out Black Friday weekend by enticing shoppers with doorbuster deals weeks in advance,” said Martin.

Online sales have also proven to be strong, with many big-box retailers and department stores offering deals online earlier this year.

Black Friday online sales surge 24%

Online sales were up 39.3% on Thanksgiving Day and 24.3% on Black Friday compared to the same days last year, according to IBM’s (IBM,Fortune 500) Coremetrics, which tracks real-time data from 500 retailers in the apparel, department store, health and beauty and home goods categories.

“This year marked Thanksgiving’s emergence as the first big spending day of the 2011 holiday season with a record number of consumers shifting their focus from turkey to tablets and the search for the best deals,” said John Squire, chief strategy officer at IBM’s Smarter Commerce division.

Consumers also spent slightly more than they did last year, although they spent most of that money on themselves. According to NPD Group consumers spent about 3% more on purchases during Black Friday. However, about 44% were self purchases up from 33% last year, the research group said.

Retail traffic on Black Friday up 2%

Total US visits to the top 500 Retail websites increased 2% on Black Friday as compared to 2010 and received more than 173 million US visits. Traffic has increased each day leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday and the total visits dipped slightly (-1%) on Black Friday compared Thanksgiving Day 2011. Early Black Friday sales resulted in a shift of online traffic, which climbed prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, however, continued heavy promotional activity helped to drive significant online traffic on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. While Black Friday has been the top day for online retail traffic over the past two years, warm weather and early store openings encouraged shoppers to go online sooner this season.
DMS Retail 500 11-25-2011.png

Among the categories driving the growth in traffic on Black Friday were Department Stores (e.g. Amazon and Wal-Mart) Apparel & Accessories, Appliances & Electronics (e.g. Best Buy) and Video & Games (e.g. Game Stop).
DMS Retail Categories 11-25-2011.png

Below is a list of the top visited retail sites on Black Friday:
DMS Retail 500 Sites 11-25-2011.png

Many of the major retail websites experienced growth on Black Friday, including Amazon, Best Buy, JC Penney, Sears and Kohl’s. Amazon.com was the most visited website on Black Friday for the 7th year in a row.

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The brains behind retail revolution

More than 5 billion bar codes are scanned in shops worldwide every day

Alan Haberman, who died on June 12 aged 81, was largely responsible for standardizing the bar code’s design and introducing it into the world’s supermarkets, a development that has revolutionized retailing and countless other activities.

Bar codes, also known as universal price codes, were invented in 1949 by Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver, who had the idea of vertically extending the dots and dashes of Morse code and using it to encode product data. They secured a patent in 1952, but because scanning technology was in its infancy, their invention went largely unused.

Over the next 20 years, some manufacturers and retailers introduced their own product coding systems, but there was no standardization and, as a result, grocery manufacturers such as Kellogg’s and General Mills feared that they would be forced to produce different packaging for each supermarket chain.

In the early 1970s Haberman, who was executive vice-president of First National Stores in Boston, convened a committee to choose a standard symbol that could be used across America. By this time the original patent had lapsed, and the committee examined submissions from several companies including colourcoded, dots and dashes and bull’s-eye designs. Although many technology experts favoured the “bull’s eye,” which could be easily read by a scanner, Haberman came out firmly in favour of cheaper black-and-white vertical bars, created by George Laurer of IBM.

On June 26, 1974 a supermarket cashier in Troy, Ohio, became the first person to swipe a bar code (on a 67-cent pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum) across a scanner, but the new system took some time to catch on. Early scanners cost $10,000 and tended to be unreliable; in 1976 Business Week ran an article with the headline “The Supermarket Scanner That Failed.” By the early 1980s, despite Haberman’s best efforts, fewer than 30 per cent of supermarkets in America were using his universal price code design. The breakthrough came when the “pile-’em-high-sell-’em-cheap” retailers got in on the act. In 1984 Walmart, Kmart and Bullocks decided to introduce the bar code and other chains soon followed suit. As the system developed, it enabled retailers to keep track of inventory with unparalleled accuracy, making possible the introduction of “just-in-time” ordering, minimizing the need for storage and waste, and providing a huge range of sales data which allowed greater responsiveness to customer demands.

Despite resistance from conspiracy theorists, who considered bar codes to be intrusive surveillance technology, and from some Christians who thought the codes hid the number 666, more than five billion of the codes are now scanned in shops worldwide every day; the technology has yielded savings running into the trillions of dollars.

Bar codes have also spread into many other fields, from allowing airlines to locate lost luggage to helping beekeepers to monitor the movements of honeybees, via tiny bar codes attached to their backs.

Haberman compared the development of the bar code with the Biblical story of creation: “Go back to Genesis,” he advised an interviewer in 2004. “God says I will call the night ‘night,’ I will call the heavens ‘heaven’. Naming was important. Then the Tower of Babel came along and messed everything up. In effect, the (bar code) has put everything back into one language, a kind of Esperanto, that works for everyone.”

Alan Lloyd Haberman was born in Worcester, Mass., on July 27, 1929. After taking a degree in American History and Literature at Harvard, he took an MBA from Harvard Business School. He worked briefly on Wall Street before joining Hills Supermarkets as executive vice-president.

Sears Aims to Boost Sales With Christmas Shopping in July

Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas shopping?
Apparently, Sears doesn’t think so.

The retailer and its corporate partners, including KMart, have launched special holiday sections called “Christmas Lane” on their Web sites — sure to become a big hit with those early bird holiday shoppers who start to panic when Labor Day rolls around.

The company also has opened Christmas boutiques at hundreds of its stores, MyFOXNY.com reports , a business move that aims to court holiday customers earlier than ever and get them to take advantage of the company’s layaway offers.

The year-end holidays typically represent a giant chunk — as much as half — of retailers’ annual revenues, and every year, the start of the holiday shopping season seems to creep earlier and earlier.

Retailers suffered through a particularly weak season last year as the United States suffered through the recession. The National Retail Federation reported a dismal 2.8 percent drop in the 2008 holiday season compared to the same period a year earlier.

It remains to be seen whether the concept of Christmas shopping in July will persuade skittish consumers to open their wallets.

But even if they do decide to commit $199 to buying the GE “Energy Smart” spruce tree from KMart.com, they may be disappointed to find that particular product won’t be available until September.

Source: http://www.myfoxatlanta.com

Sears Brings Personalized and Convenient Shopping to Life With ShopYourWay

Sears Holdings Corporation today announced the unification of its industry-leading, multi-channel services under, ShopYourWay, which transforms the shopping experience and gives customers just that – the ability to “shop their way.”

Both Sears and Kmart customers can now conveniently experience these innovative and best-in-class, multi-channel purchase opportunities in stores and online. As more and more new multi-channel capabilities are made available, the ShopYourWay banner will help identify the many choices for Sears and Kmart customers.

ShopYourWay provides the best of what Sears and Kmart offer – great prices everyday and one of the largest assortment of brands, products and services of any store online or offline through Sears.com and Kmart.com, Sears2go, Web to Store, Store to Web, 1-800-4-MY-HOME and in-store visits. Its expanded selection of jewelry, apparel, electronics, tool, shoes and power lawn & garden equipment are now always available on Sears.com or Kmart.com.

“ShopYourWay revolves around the lives of our customers,” said Richard Gerstein, Sears Holdings Corporation’s senior vice president, marketing. “By letting their schedules determine the way they shop, our customers can take advantage of making purchases in-store, online, over the phone and with mobile capabilities.

ShopYourWay empowers our customers to manage their lives by providing them with unique services, expanded selections and the best prices.”

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Sears to shore up business units

21 Jan, 2008, 0355 hrs IST, Bloomberg

WASHINGTON: Sears Holdings, the owner of Kenmore appliances and the Mart and Sears retail chains, will appoint executives to run each of its business lines after saying profit may decline for a third straight quarter.

Each unit’s performance will have a designated leader and a group of executive advisers to oversee performance, Sears spokesman Chris Brathwaite said Saturday in a e-mail. He didn’t give details on what each division would do. The company has Lands’ End clothing stores and sells Craftsman tools and DieHard batteries at the Sears and Kmart chains.

The decision follows Sears’s disclosure last week that fourth-quarter profit may drop by more than 50% after US holiday sales fell. The biggest US department store company has reported declining sales in stores open at least a year every quarter since chairman Edward Lampert combined Kmart and Sears, Roebuck in March 2005.

Sears, which declined 39% last year in Nasdaq Stock Market trading, will give “greater control, authority and autonomy” to the individual businesses, Brathwaite said in the statement.

Since putting the retailer together, Lampert has centralised functions, giving executives responsibilities that stretched across the company. The marketing chief for the Sears brand, for instance, reports to Sears Holding chief marketing officer Maureen McGuire. The retailer, which blamed increased competition and “unfavourable economic conditions” for the drop in fourth-quarter profit, posted declines in the second and third quarters, with third-quarter net income declining 99%.

Corwin Yulinsky, executive vice-president of customer strategy, and Senior vice-president Dev Mukherjee briefed executives on the plans on January 17, the Wall Street Journal said Saturday. Lampert, 45, has tried to lure customers by extending products over the whole organisation, adding Lands’ End clothing to Sears stores and Craftsman tools at Kmart.

He boosted technology investments and introduced advertising campaigns this year for both chains while telling shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in May that fixing retail was ‘a priority’. analysts say he’s underinvested in the stores for too long.

“Once people decide they’re not going to shop there anymore, it’s hard to get them to come back,” Jon Fisher, a portfolio manager with Fifth Third Asset Management, said January 14. His firm manages $22 billion in assets, including Sears stock.

The retailer has also lost a senior executive, chief customer officer John Walden, who is no longer with the company after a year at Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Sears, Brathwaite said.

Of the seven analysts that cover the 122-year-old Sears, only one has a ‘buy’ recommendation, while four advocate selling the shares, according to data compiled by agencies. The remainder advise holding the stock.

Lampert’s ESL Investments bought Kmart debt during the discount chain’s bankruptcy and became its largest shareholder after the retailer’s emergence from court protection in May 2003. Lampert engineered Kmart’s $12.3 billion acquisition of Sears, Roebuck less than three years later to form Sears Holding. His funds hold 48% of the company, according to agencies data.

Sears gained 29% in the eight months after Lampert said in August 2006 that the company may make acquisitions outside the retail industry, sparking speculation that he would run the Sears like a hedge fund. Further sales declines have weighed on the shares since April.

Sears, which rose 50 cents in Nasdaq trading Saturday to $89.43, has fallen 12% this year. Analysts on average predict Sears shares will decline to $74.75 in the next 12 months, according to data.

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