Business has slowed for traditional shipping companies as physical retailers contend with overstocked shelves. Meanwhile, the rapid rise in e-commerce has delivery services including FedEx, UPS and the US Postal Service gearing up for another big holiday season.
Toys R Us plans to set itself apart from mass merchant and online rivals with a focus on voice-activated toys, robots and other interactive, technology-fueled playthings, Toys R Us Chairman and CEO David Brandon said. Longer term, the retailer will evaluate the size of its brick-and-mortar stores. "Our stores are probably larger than they need to be. We'll be looking at formats that allow us to be in a little smaller space," Brandon said.
It's more than a month before Christmas and much too early to determine how the shopping season will shake out, Hudson's Bay Co. CEO Jerry Storch said. A warm autumn and other factors have dampened apparel sales, but other sectors including off-price retailers, discount stores, home improvement chains and restaurants have seen higher spending, he said.
Seventy percent of consumers plan to pay for holiday purchases either with cash or debit cards, rather than credit cards this year, according to a survey from Bankrate.com. Only about 14% of all adults and 19% of millennials said they'll use Apple Pay or other mobile payment systems.
UK supermarket Morrisons has created a very cheery voice at its self-serve checkouts, just in time for the holidays, using technology that combines the vocal qualities of three British celebrities to create the voice of Festive Fred. "Listening to a voice that is animated with cheery qualities induces a general uplift in mood and therefore cheers people up," said Lyz Cooper, founder of The British Academy of Sound Therapy.
London-based Pines and Needles, which sells Christmas trees to the wealthy and high-profile venues such as Wembley Stadium, expects a record season. The family-owned company is seeing a boost in orders for pre-decorated trees, and an influx of Russians into London is extending the sales season to Russian Orthodox Christmas Day, which is on Jan. 7.
Seattle-based outerwear retailer Filson will grow from six to 10 stores by the end of next year, including a new hometown flagship. The brand, begun in 1897 to dress gold rush adventurers and cowboys, is seeing success with urban creatives drawn to its rugged materials and "lumbersexual" style, Creative Director Alex Carleton said.
Maine is a prized vacation destination and shopping is the top activity for visitors, writes Curtis Picard, executive director of the Retail Association of Maine. The state's retailers, including L.L. Bean, Kittery Trading Post and Sea Bags, support more than 200,000 jobs and contribute more than $10.5 billion to Maine's economy.
A self-hosted online community can offer many of the benefits of social media outreach with few of the pitfalls, Stacy Jackson writes. Branded online communities foster collaboration between customers and brands, tip companies to customer service problems early and help recognize sales opportunities, Jackson writes.
Nordstrom topped a new ranking of retail brands with the biggest social media momentum heading into the holidays, followed by Sephora in second place. Kohl's, Macy's and Bergdorf Goodman rounded out the top five, according to the Shareablee rankings.
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