Retailers: theft-prone self-checkouts

Walmart buys VR startup Spatialand

US: Three area Kroger stores close for good
After weeks of community efforts, three area Kroger stores closed for good Saturday. The stores on Lamar Avenue in Orange Mound, South Third Street in South Memphis, and one in Clarksdale, Mississippi are out of business. Kroger says the three locations lost a combined of $6 million over the past 4 years.

US: Retailers adding theft-prone self-checkouts
A lot of shoppers steal products by using the self-checkout lane, The Atlantic writes. According to a recent survey from Voucher Codes Pro, a digital coupon company, nearly 20% of the 2,634 shoppers polled said they had stolen something while at the self-scanning station. Some retailers have curbed their ranks of self-checkouts, citing theft and research that shows the systems don't process customers faster than traditional checkout. Big Y and Albertsons are among the chains that have taken this step. Still, the number of self-checkout terminals worldwide is expected to reach 325,000 by next year, well up from 191,000 in 2013. Shoplifters use all sorts of different tactics, from putting in a cheap produce code for expensive meat items ("the banana trick") to passing the product around the scanner. According to experts interviewed by The Atlantic, the anonymity of interacting with a robot empowers people who wouldn't otherwise steal to do so.

US: Walmart acquires VR startup Spatialand
The technology arm of US grocery retail giant Walmart has acquired virtual reality startup Spatialand in an attempt to drive the company's transformational efforts. Spatialand has been purchased with the aim of revolutionising the customer experience of retail shopping in years to come, joining Walmart's tech incubator, Store No. 8.

Sweden: Axfood 2017: +6.0% to €4.7bln

Sweden’s Axfood has released its 2017 results, reporting that consolidated net sales increased by 6.0% to SEK 45,968mln (€4.7bln). Meanwhile, net profit declined slightly by 0.4% to SEK 1,467mln (€148.9mln). Axfood’s discount supermarket banner Willys drove the strongest growth during the year, with net sales growing by 9.7% to SEK 25,415mln (€2.6bln). Eurocash was central to growth, with Willys’ sales excluding Eurocash increasing by 5.0% during the year. Willys also had a particularly strong Q4 where net sales increased by 11.0% to SEK 6,633mln (€673.5mln). The retailer attributed this to ‘a higher average ticket value, more customer visits and e-commerce. Eurocash contributed to strong growth to the quarter’.

UK: Tesco sales up 2.6%, discounters outperform

Tesco was the top performer of Britain’s four largest supermarket groups over the past 12 weeks, posting sales growth of 2.6%, although all four again lost market share to discount chains Aldi and Lidl. Asda, owned by Walmart, grew sales by 2.2% in the period to Jan. 29, data from research group Kantar Worldpanel showed, with Morrisons also on 2.2%, while Sainsbury’s saw a 1.5%.

UK: Revenue passes £1.3bln at online grocery
British online grocery Ocado has reported group revenue of £1.4bln (€1.6bln) for its financial year 2017, a 12.7% increase year-on-year. Group earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation were £84mln, a flat performance year-on-year, according to the group’s financial results. "The last twelve months have been transformational for Ocado," Tim Steiner, chief executive of Ocado, said.

UK: 10 new Co-op stores in Yorkshire with £15mln investment programme
The Co-op is set to bag 10 new food stores and provide extensions or major upgrades for a further 11 sites as part of a more than £15mln store investment programme across the Yorkshire region during 2018. Planned new stores include sites in: York, Harrogate and Northowram, with extensions or improvements scheduled for existing stores including those in: Thirsk, Helmsley and Sheffield.

China: is looking at Europe
Chinese JD.Com has plans to conquer Europe soon, which would make it a serious competitor for Amazon. The web shop’s first European market will most likely be France. "First up is France and then the United Kingdom and Germany, which also happen to be Europe’s three largest markets" said CEO Richard Liu to the Financial Times. His company will invest at least 1bln euro in the next two years to construct a new logistic network in France.

Thailand: 11street seeks to strengthen grocery offering
Recognising the trend towards purchasing household goods online, 11street has expanded its range of products in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) category. This year, the company said it plans to offer more than 390,000 items online. Jeon Hong-cheol, chief executive officer of 11street (Thailand), said: “Today, online shopping has become more popular among Thai shoppers due to the rise in internet penetration. By this year, we expect that sales in our consumer goods category will have increased by three times compared to 2017."

Lidl keeps place as UK’s fastest growing supermarket
Lidl has proven itself to be the UK’s fastest growing retailer, according to data from market researcher Kantar Worldpanel. The supermarket saw a market share increase of 0.5% its sales increased by 16.3% compared to this time last year.

UK: Supermarkets adopt IGD consumer guide about nutrition information
Training and research charity IGD launched the guide to help food and grocery companies give guidance to consumers in a consistent way. It contains simple messages and images that tackle areas of consumer confusion. IGD’s consumer research shows there is keen interest to understand on-pack nutritional information better, with 45% of shoppers saying they would like to learn more to help them make healthier choices. Areas of confusion include reference intakes (or guideline daily amounts), calories, portion size information and interpreting the colour coding.

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