Report: Walmart to Bow $98 Yearly Subscription Service in July

Walmart in July will launch a $98 yearly subscription service to compete with Amazon Prime, according to a report from Recode.

The service will be called Walmart+.

In addition to same-day grocery delivery, fuel discounts and other offerings, the service is expected to include some sort of video entertainment content, though details are not clear, according to the report.

Walmart in April sold its video service Vudu.com to Fandango for an undisclosed amount, and reports citing internal sources had indicated that the big box retailer didn’t consider the VOD service a core business.

Amazon Prime subscriptions are $119 per year and, in addition to free shipping, offer access to streaming and transactional entertainment.

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Fed: May Retail Sales Jumped Record 17.7%

The U.S. economy got some positive news June 16 when the Treasury Department disclosed retail sales in May increased a record 17.7% from the prior month, compared with a 14.7% month-to-month decline in April and an 8.3% drop in March.

While it was the largest increase in monthly retail sales ever, sales are still down 8% from February and 6.1% from May 2019.

The news saw the Dow rally by 800 points and President Trump send out a Tweet praising the stock market and jobs growth.

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With economic shutdowns easing, consumers armed with $1,200 stimulus money (or enhanced unemployment benefits) are slowly heading back to stores and restaurants with their masks.

The food and beverage business saw a 29.1% spike in May revenue. Clothing and accessories sales jumped 188.8%, while media (books, entertainment), hobby and sporting goods increased 88.2%.

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“I think a lot of it is lockdown fatigue,” Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global, told The New York Times. “I would caution not to be fooled by this large [retail] gain. We still have a long way to go in repairing the economy.”

Walmart to Discontinue Jet.com; Q1 Revenue Up 8.6%

Walmart, the world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer and the largest seller of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, on May 19 reported it would discontinue Jet.com, which it acquired four years ago to assist in its effort to combat online goliath Amazon.

The announcement came in its financial report for the first quarter ended May 1, in which revenue totaled $134.6 billion, up 8.6% from the comparable period in 2019, in part due to “unprecedented demand” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Walmart. Since Walmart carries groceries, the chain was one of only a few retailers, mostly grocers and pharmacies, allowed to remain open after governors in most states closed all but “essential” businesses.

Operating income grew 5.6% to $5.2 billion. Walmart U.S. comp sales increased 10%, led by strength in food, consumables, health and wellness, and some general merchandise categories. Walmart U.S. eCommerce sales grew 74% with strong results for grocery pickup and delivery services, walmart.com, and marketplace, according to the company.

“More than ever, the news this quarter is our amazing associates. They are rising to the challenge to serve our customers and our communities. I’m proud of how they’re adapting and performing. Our omnichannel strategy, enabling customers to shop in seamless, flexible ways, is built for serving the needs of customers during this crisis and in the future,” president and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

The chain is nixing Jet.com, which it acquired in 2016 for $3 billion, because the Walmart.com brand is strong, it reported.

“Due to continued strength of the Walmart.com brand, the company will discontinue Jet.com,” read the Walmart press release. “The acquisition of Jet.com nearly four years ago was critical to accelerating our omni strategy.”

On an afternoon earnings call with analysts May 19, McMillon elaborated, “While the  [Jet.com] brand name may still be used in the future, our resources, people and financials have been dominated by the Walmart brand because it has so much traction. We’re seeing the Walmart brand resonate regardless of income, geography or age. The Jet acquisition was critical to jumpstarting the progress we’ve made the last few years. Not only have we picked up traction with pickup and delivery, but our Walmart.com non-food e-commerce growth accelerated after the arrival of Marc and the Jet team.”

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The news comes on the heels of Walmart shedding online movie site Vudu. Last month, Comcast-owned movie ticket and transactional VOD service Fandango announced the acquisition of Vudu.com from Walmart for an undisclosed amount. Vudu, which Walmart acquired 10 years ago for $100 million, will continue backend support for Walmart’s online digital movie business, while existing Vudu subscribers will still have access to content stored in the cloud.

On an earnings call on the afternoon of May 19, McMillon noted that since the pandemic-triggered quarantine began in the middle of March, “we’ve hired more than 235,000 associates in the United States. The majority are on a temporary basis to help relieve some of the burden faced by our associates in stores and supply chain facilities, as well as to help provide opportunities for people who’ve been displaced from their previous jobs.”

He noted that as the pandemic spread, “we saw the mix of sales ship heavily towards food and consumables. … We experienced unprecedented demand in categories like paper goods, surface cleaners and grocery staples. For many of these items we were selling in two or three hours what we normally sell in two or three days.”

As the quarter progressed, McMillon added, “we saw a second phase related to entertaining and educating at home, puzzles and video games took off. Parents became teachers. Adult bicycles started selling out as parents started to join the kids. An overlapping trend then started emerging related to DIY and home related activities. Think games, home office, exercise equipment and alike. It was also clear a lot of people were taking a do-it-yourself approach as they bought items like bandanas and sewing machines to make masks. We can see customers looking to improve their indoor and outdoor living spaces, our home categories in stores and online took off.

“Toward the end of the quarter another phase emerged, COVID relief spending as it was heavily influenced by stimulus dollars leading to sales increases in categories such as apparel, televisions, video games, sporting goods and toys.”

Comcast Expanding Retail Footprint

Comcast Jan. 27 said it plans to open six new Xfinity branded stores in the St. Paul, Minn., area by the end of 2020. The nearly $1.5 million investment will place stores in Coon Rapids, Brooklyn Center, Maple Grove, Blaine, Vadnais Heights and West St. Paul.

The strategy is aimed at connecting customers at the retail level with a cable TV operator that increasingly is focused on branded over-the-top video and high-speed Internet service — including xFi, Xfinity Mobile, Peacock and Flex.

“These stores are designed to give customers an awesome experience,” J.D. Keller, regional SVP of the Comcast Twin Cities Region, said in a statement. “They are all about providing the best possible service to our customers, as well as giving all consumers a chance to explore our Xfinity products and services firsthand and check out our latest technology in an interactive environment.”

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Comcast recently opened the Coon Rapids and Brooklyn Center Xfinity Stores with the remaining locations scheduled to open later in the year.

The stores range in size from 1,800 to 2,200 square feet and will be staffed by technology specialists who can help customers get the most value from their products, including personalization, managing and controlling home WiFi experience with Xfinity xFi, amopng other features.

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Retail customers can also upgrade or swap equipment, ask questions about their Xfinity service or pay a bill. Comcast has built or redesigned more than 400 new stores since 2015.

New Data Highlights Big-Box Winter Retail Foot Traffic

In an age of e-commerce and online retail, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have increasingly focused on specific days of the year to push consumer foot traffic in stores.

New data from Placer.ai, which has offices in Los Altos, Calif., and Tel Aviv, suggests retailers such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy target holidays to entice consumers. In a blog post, Ethan Chernofsky, VP of marketing, cited analytical data underscoring how the big box stores fared throughout 2019.

“Walmart may be the undisputed king of offline retail, and much of that centers around its ability to drive excitement and interest throughout the calendar,” Chernofsky wrote. “As opposed to many, Walmart’s peak comes in the days before Christmas with an annual peak hitting on Dec. 23.”

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He said the day before Christmas Eve saw store foot traffic rise 89.2% above the retail behemoth’s baseline for 2019.

“There are clear peaks before Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, as well as the obvious Black Friday bump, in addition to an ongoing push in the back-to-school season,” Chernofsky wrote. “The capacity to effectively take advantage of so many key time periods is a hallmark to Walmart’s ongoing success.”

By comparison, Black Friday remains the key day in Target’s retail calendar, driving visits 181.3% above normal. Target has also shown a proclivity to dominate both the back-to-school period and the buildup into Christmas, with both periods driving major benefits to the general merchandise leader.

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For Target, the day before Easter provides one of the few major peaks outside of the holiday and back-to-school seasons, with visits rising 81.7% above the baseline.

“If the retailer can identify another opportunity to drive visits with the same strength as the late summer or holiday period, the impact could catapult the brand to an entirely new level of success,” Chernovsky wrote.

 

 

Finally, Black Friday remains key to Best Buy. The brand sees visits rise a whopping 641.9% above the baseline on the post-Thanksgiving retail holiday.

“Smaller peaks throughout the rest of the holiday season come nowhere near the incredible standard the brand sets on Black Friday,” he wrote.

Placer.ai  said the data highlights opportunities retailers could act upon  to galvanize consumers throughout the year.

“Whether it’s Mother’s or Father’s Day, or an Amazon-esque attempt to create their own holiday [i.e. Prime Day], Best Buy has huge opportunities for growth if it can better leverage the period between January 1st and Thanksgiving,” Chernovsky wrote.

Walmart Black Friday Deals Include DVDs Under $2, 4K Discs Under $8 and 4K TVs Under $200

Walmart’s Black Friday ad features deals for DVDs at $1.96, 4K Blu-ray Discs at $7.96 and 4K TVs as low as $198.

The Black Friday in-store sale starts at 6 p.m. Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving) and the online sale starts Nov. 27 at 10 p.m. EST.

The more than 50 titles at $1.96 include The Peanuts Movie, Trolls and The Fate of the Furious. Other price points include $3.96, $5.96, $7.96 and $9.96. 4K Blu-ray Discs at $7.96 include Avengers: Endgame, Wonder Woman, Venom, Aquaman and John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.

4K TV deals include an onn Roku 5o-inch smart TV model at $148, an onn Roku 58-inch smart TV model at $198, a Philips 65-inch Android smart TV model at $278, a Vizio 65-inch smart TV model at $398, a Samsung 55-inch smart TV model at $328 and a Samsung 50-inch smart TV model at $278.

There’s also a 40-inch 1080p 2K Roku smart TV at $98.

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Report: Walmart Looking Into Sale of Vudu

As the industry prepares for the impending launch of SVOD services Disney+ and Apple TV+ next month, Walmart is looking into selling its 15-year old Vudu on-demand video service, according to sources.

According to a report from The Information, citing people familiar with the situation, the retailer has concluded that it would have to make a substantial investment in Vudu to compete. It might make more sense to partner with media companies to offer content to customers, and the retailer has decided the on-demand service isn’t part of its core business, according to the anonymous sources in the report.

Vudu, which began as a company making set-top boxes in 2004, evolved into a video delivery service and was sold to Walmart in 2010. It rents and sells digital movies and TV shows (EST).

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“Over the last nine years, we’ve built Vudu into an incredibly strong and growing business with an installed base of more than 100 million devices across America,” a Walmart spokesman wrote The Information. “We’re constantly having and [are] open to conversations with new and existing partners to explore opportunities for continued growth; however, we never share details of those discussions.”

Vudu is one of eight retail partners in the Movies Anywhere library collection service. The others are iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, FandangoNow, Xfinity and Verizon, which just joined the service about a month ago.

Report: Amazon to Overtake Walmart as Largest Domestic Retailer in 2022

Amazon is set to become the largest retailer in the United States by 2022, overtaking current leader Walmart, according to a report from market research firm Packaged Facts. The firm bases the forecast on the expectation that Amazon sales will continue to grow at a much faster rate.

The report, Amazon Strategies and the Amazon Shopper, 2nd Edition, analyzes the e-commerce giant’s activities in grocery, pet products and financial services.

“Amazon already has an enormous impact on e-commerce sales, benefitting from its creation of an endless online aisle with products at competitive prices,” David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, said in a statement. “Packaged Facts estimates that Amazon’s U.S. gross merchandise sales will comprise 43% of U.S. e-commerce sales in 2019, up from 28% in 2015. By 2022, we forecast that Amazon will contribute almost half of U.S. e-commerce sales.”

Despite Amazon’s continued growth, Walmart does have advantages Amazon presently cannot match, even when accounting for Amazon’s innovative incorporation of natural supermarket chain Whole Foods in 2017 or its partnership with department store retail chain Kohl’s, according to the firm. Most notably, Walmart’s in-store services strongly differentiate it from online competitors such as Amazon, which cannot provide such services, as well as from its brick-and-mortar competitors, many of which do not offer the same breadth of offerings or cannot match Walmart’s pricing. These services therefore not only produce revenue but also significantly drive traffic, which is even more vital at a time when brick-and-mortar retailers of all shapes and sizes seek to revitalize in-store traffic, according to the firm.

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Packaged Facts survey data found that more than 20% of Walmart purchasers use in-store services (including purchasing/using a range of financial services, on-site pharmacy, and optical and photo processing). In addition, Walmart is the click-and-collect king, according to the firm. Among survey respondent click-and-collectors, 43% identified Walmart as the pick-up location for their last click-and-collect order, three times the percentage of those who cited runner-up Target.

Best Buy Kicks Off Holiday Season With Free, Next-Day Delivery on Thousands of Items

As the holidays loom, a 99% of Best Buy customers can get free next-day delivery on thousands of items, according to the retailer.

The offer excludes some bigger and heavier things such as big-screen TVs and refrigerators.

Customers who ordered something, or live somewhere, where free next-day delivery isn’t available will still get free standard shipping on everything all season long, with no membership or minimum purchase required, according to the retailer.

With the service “Store Pickup,” customers can get their order ready within an hour at their local Best Buy. Best Buy reports 40% of online sales are picked up in stores.

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Other offers include:

  • same-day delivery, which is available in 42 U.S. metro cities for orders completed on BestBuy.com before 3 p.m. local time (2 p.m. local time on Sundays);
  • “Curbside,” which lets customers pick up their tech without getting out of the car and is currently available in select markets across the country;
  • My Best Buy membership, allowing those who join access to sales, including being the first to access to Black Friday deals and, new this year, special access to save on Apple products;
  • and “Total Tech Support” membership, offering those who join unlimited support for all the tech and appliances, no matter where or when they bought them, as well as exclusive prices and discounts on services such as TV mounting, computer virus removal, appliance installation, Geek Squad Protection and AppleCare Products with internet security software also included at no extra charge for coverage on up to 10 devices (Starting Oct. 27, current Total Tech Support members can save $50 when they but it as a gift.).

 

The Best Buy Gift Center also offers ideas on thousands of the tech gifts.

Disney Opening Branded Stores at Target

The Walt Disney Co. and Target Corp. Aug. 25 at D23 Expo announced a retail collaboration aimed at jumpstarting the Disney brand in third-party retail locations.

Disney is launching 25 branded stores within select Target stores nationwide on Oct. 4, with 40 additional locations opening by October 2020.

The partnership also includes a Disney-focused digital experience on Target.com. Additionally, a new Target store will open at Flamingo Crossings Town Center at the western entrance of the Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.

To Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, and former head of home entertainment, the retail collaboration combines two companies’ focus on families at the retail level.

“Disney and Target share a common vision to provide our guests and consumers with innovative and unique experiences, and high quality product,” Chapek said in a statement.

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Brian Cornell, CEO at Target, said the companies’ combined omni-channel retail platform would create “inspiring and unique” experiences for consumers.

“This collaboration reflects the strength of our platforms and assets to create value for guests and growth for both companies beyond the traditional retail model,” he said.

The branded stores will showcase specialty merchandise from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, in addition to featuring clips of movies available theatrically and in home entertainment.

Target remains one of the largest retailers of packaged media entertainment.

The launch will include a new assortment of merchandise from Disney’s Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Additional locations will be added to more Target stores over the next year to expand the Disney store retail footprint.

The Disney stores will be Target-operated, branded “shop-in-shop” with an average of 750 square feet, strategically located inside Target stores adjacent to kids clothing and toys, replicated online at Target.com/Disneystore and on the Target app.

The “shop-in-shop” will feature an enhanced Disney assortment of more than 450 items, including more than 100 products that were previously only available at Disney retail locations.

Consumers will be able to browse and shop a variety of Disney Princess, Star Wars, Marvel, Disney Junior characters, classic Disney plush, apparel, home and holiday-specific products.

They’ll also be able to access collectible merchandise, including the Disney Animators’ Collection with dolls, clothing and accessories. Items will range in price from $2 to $200, with many items under $20.

Disney store at Target promises an engaging shopping experience with music, interactive displays, photo opportunities and a seating area where families can relax and watch Disney movie clips and Park events.

Consumers will be able to take advantage of all of the benefits of shopping at Target when they purchase items from Disney store at Target, whether online or in stores.

Target consumers can purchase Disney products with 5% off using their Target REDcard and can take advantage of convenient pickup and delivery options, including same-day pickup, same-day delivery and free two-day shipping.

Disney store at Target will open in October in the following 25 Target stores:

Allen North #2516 (Allen, Texas)
Austin NW #1797 (Austin, Texas)
Bozeman #1237 (Bozeman, Mont.)
Brighton #922 (Brighton, Mich.)
Chicago Brickyard #1924 (Chicago, Ill.)
Clearwater #1820 (Clearwater, Fla.)
Denver Stapleton #2052 (Denver, Colo.)
Edmond #1398 (Edmond, Okla.)
Euless #1368 (Euless, Texas)
Houston North Central #1458 (Spring, Texas)
Jacksonville Mandarin #1300 (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Keizer #2110 (Keizer, Ore.)
Lake Stevens #1331 (Lake Stevens, Wash.)
Leesburg #1874 (Leesburg, Va.)
Loveland #1178 (Loveland, Colo.)
Maple Grove North #2193 (Maple Grove, Minn.)
Mobile West #1376 (Mobile, Ala.)
Murrieta #1283 (Murrieta, Calif.)
New Lenox #2028 (New Lenox, Ill.)
Pasadena #1396 (Pasadena, Texas)
Philadelphia West #2124 (Philadelphia, Pa.)
San Jose College Park #2088 (San Jose, Calif.)
South Jordan #2123 (South Jordan, Utah)
Stroudsburg #1260 (Stroudsburg, Pa.)
Waterford Park #2068 (Clarksville, Ind.)