Japanese firms test avatar for remote shopping
A test of a prototype avatar that enables shopping from remote locations was demonstrated for the media by ANA Holdings Inc. (ANAHD) and Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd. in Tokyo. The avatar - a robotic alter ego of the user - was developed by ANAHD and is equipped with a camera and microphone. In the test, a person acting as a customer from a separate location and controlling the robot remotely via computer purchased a boxed set of sweets as a gift while communicating with a store clerk. The tests will be conducted through December 24 at the shopping plaza Coredo Muromachi 3 in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo. Pre-registration is required for use. The avatar system is expected to be used by the elderly, people with disabilities and office workers too busy to go shopping.
Poland: Dino to install solar panels for green energy
Polish retailer Dino Polska S.A. has announced plans to generate green electricity for its energy needs by installing photovoltaic panels on new and existing stores. By early 2021, the retailer aims to mount photovoltaic panels on the roofs of almost 400 Dino stores throughout Poland. The total capacity of the photovoltaic panels installed by the company will reach around 14 megawatts (MW), which will enable Dino Polska to generate an estimated 14 GWh of clean, solar electricity per year.
Botswana retailer Choppies sells ailing South African operations for 1 rand
Botswana budget retailer Choppies Enterprises will sell its loss-making South African operations for only 1 rand to escape existing liabilities and inject 100mln rand ($6.8mln) into the business. The assets being sold have been operating at a substantial loss for two years, with a lack of cashflow resulting in understocked stores that have hit market share and exacerbated losses, Choppies said.
UK: Norovirus warning to supermarket shoppers
A hospital board is urging people to wash their hands in soap and water after a trip to the supermarket. The Swansea Bay University Health Board claims the frequently-touched handles of supermarket trolleys could harbour the norovirus. It is urging everyone to clean their hands thoroughly after a visit to busy facilities such as supermarkets and hospitals. The warning comes after 75 Swansea hospital patients became infected with the illness over a two-week period. Good hand hygiene is essential to curb the spread of the illness according to Swansea health board matron Joanne Walters.
Europe: Volume of retail trade down by 0.6% in euro area
In October 2019 compared with September 2019, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade decreased by 0.6% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.4% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In September 2019, the retail trade volume decreased by 0.2% in the euro area and by 0.1% in the EU28. In October 2019 compared with October 2018, the calendar adjusted retail sales index increased by 1.4% in the euro area and by 1.9% in the EU28.
UK: Co-op to serve-up newest Welsh store in Carmarthen
The Co-op is set to serve-up its newest food store in Wales following a £550,000 investment creating 15 jobs in Carmarthen. The 2,500 sq. ft. new store - located on Job’s Well Road opened on Friday, 6 December - runs on 100% renewable electricity, and provides a funding boost for local causes through Co-op’s membership scheme. The store - which opens between 7am - 11pm daily - includes customer car parking, free ATM, a Costa coffee dispenser and bakery alongside its focus on fresh, healthy products, food-to-go, vegan and free-from foods, hot food, chilled beers, award winning wines, meal ideas and, essentials.
UK: Asda The Deal Depot, Patchway
Asda has opened its first bulk-buy trial outlet adjacent to its Patchway, Bristol superstore. Using the The Deal Depot banner, this new format represents a distinct concept from the core Asda operation, with separate branding and differentiated ranging. In line with the warehouse club model of value, The Deal Depot range comprises products in bigger than normal formats including big multi-packs, wholesale cases, catering packs and plus-size consumer lines.
Walmart CEO: 'What has happened here in produce?'
Acknowledging the chain’s fresh food progress but wary of taking a victory lap, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon declared that the big retailer has caught up to its conventional rivals in fresh food quality and is now moving to present it “in your face” behind the newly announced “Produce 2.0” initiative. Asked during an investor conference this week how Walmart sees its fresh food quality vs. large conventional rivals, McMillon said “we match up”, but was quick to add: “I don't want to have our team get comfortable”. “We have a really competitive quality offer and a great value in produce today”, McMillon said at the Barclays Gaming, Lodging, Leisure, Restaurant & Food Retail Conference, according to a Sentieo transcript. “I'm excited about that”. Walmart considering itself on par with rivals in fresh food is not a remark officials would have made a few years ago. But detailed work on product sourcing and handling that improved speed to shelf and, finally, an increase in hours on the produce floor - “I think we were shorter on the number of hours we should have put into fresh to begin with”, McMillon said - has helped in-store execution and presentations improve.
Canada: Dollarama reports third quarter profit, sales up from year ago
Dollarama Inc. reported a third-quarter profit of $138.6mln, up from $132.1mln in the same quarter last year, helped by a boost in sales. The discount retailer says the profit amounted to 44 cents per diluted share for the 13-week period ended November 3 compared with a profit of 40 cents per diluted share in the same quarter last year. Sales in the quarter totalled $947.6mln, up from $864.3mln. The improvement in sales came as comparable store sales, a key metric for retailers, grew 5.3%. Dollarama says the average transaction size grew 2.8%, while the number of transactions rose 2.4%.
Amazon reveals Prime members’ favorite artists, music, books, and top-selling items in 2019
Top-selling items among Amazon Prime members in 2019 include avocados, Instant Pots, AncestryDNA tests, and Amazon devices, Amazon said. Amazon offered a peek inside Prime members’ purchasing behavior this year. The company provided a list of 2019 best sellers among Prime members, as well as top gifted items, most streamed artists and songs, and favorite shows. Items that made the list include avocados, Instant Pots, AncestryDNA tests, and Amazon devices including the Echo Dot.
US: Costco Wholesale Corporation reports November and first quarter fiscal year 2020 sales results
Costco Wholesale Corporation (“Costco” or the “Company”) reported net sales of $13.62bln for the retail month of November, the four weeks ended December 1, 2019, an increase of 6.7% from $12.77bln last year. For the twelve-week first quarter ended November 24, 2019, the Company reported net sales of $36.24bln, an increase of 5.6% from $34.31bln last year. For the thirteen weeks ended December 1, 2019, the Company reported net sales of $39.95bln, an increase of 6.3% from $37.57bln during the similar period last year.
US: Uber may offer courier services for retail business - CEO Khosrowshahi
Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said the ride hailing company could extend its food delivery service to offer courier services for other retail businesses. Speaking at a meeting before the Economic Club of New York, Khosrowshahi was talking about his time at the helm of the ride-sharing and food delivery company, a position he took on in 2017. “We can extend that (food delivery) model to essentially every single local retailer, so that anything you want in New York City can be delivered to you, hopefully in under 30 minutes”, Khosrowshahi said, when asked about the future of Uber’s business.
US: Accel Robotics raises $30mln in Series A funding led by SoftBank Group
Accel Robotics, a San Diego-based startup focused on AI and computer vision for checkout-free stores, announced a $30mln Series A funding round led by SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank Group”). Accel Robotics enables grab-and-go, checkout-free shopping experiences across existing and emerging store formats. The company’s camera-based AI and computer vision system allows any shopper to enter a store, grab the items they want, walk out, and receive a receipt via text message or app notification. Accel Robotics delivers its frictionless commerce platform to retailers and brands so they can run stores more efficiently with increased throughput. Accel Robotics increases shopper satisfaction by eliminating checkout lines while offering key data streams, such as live inventory and shopper analytics, to retailers to improve the in-store experience.
US: GrubMarket enters Midwest market with Doorganics buy
GrubMarket acquired Doorganics, a farm-to-table online delivery service in Michigan, according to a press release. The services specialize in local and organic fruits, vegetables, dairy, pastured proteins, breads and other grocery items. With the acquisition, Doorganics will expand its offerings throughout more Midwest cities from its Grand Rapids headquarters. GrubMarket will provide Doorganics with technological, e-commerce and operational support to assist the expansion. Doorganics' current team will continue to lead the company.
US: Dollar General is opening 1,000 new stores next year
Dollar General remains one of the fastest-growing retailers in America, attracting customers with rock-bottom prices on snacks and household goods. It's so confident in that strategy that it plans to open 1,000 new stores in 2020, just as it has for the past several years. The company tightened its grip on shoppers during the most recent quarter, increasing sales at stores open for at least a year by 4.6% compared with the same period a year ago. It marked Dollar General (DG)'s fastest quarter of sales growth in five years. Its profit increased, too, up 11% during the quarter and the company raised its outlook, driving its shares up 5% in early trading. Dollar General stock has rallied more than 50% over the last two years.
US: Kroger exits Lucky's Market investment
Kroger has divested its stake in Lucky’s Market after three years, the Cincinnati-based grocer announced. The move incurred a non-cash impairment charge of $238mln in the third quarter, with Kroger responsible for $131mln of that charge. CEO Rodney McMullen said the decision followed a review of the company’s asset portfolio, noting Kroger no longer saw a pathway to creating significant value through investment in the specialty grocer. “It was really driven by narrowing our focus and the additional requirements to make it something that would be meaningful to Kroger”, he said. For the third quarter, Kroger recorded net sales of $28bln and saw gross margin rate decline 24 basis points over the year-ago period, to 22.1%. Both figures came in below Wall Street estimates, sending the company’s stock down around 4% in early trading. Kroger’s same-store sales grew 2.5% in Q3 while digital sales increased 21%.
US: H-E-B embarks on $200mln expansion
H-E-B is targeting south Austin, Texas, for a major expansion that includes $200mln in investment and more than 1,000 new jobs, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The San Antonio-based grocer’s plans also include the opening of three previously announced new stores and a major remodel of an existing location. “This level of investment has been years in the making”, Jeff Thomas, VP and GM of the central Texas region for H-E-B, told the Austin American-Statesman. “With the growth the city is experiencing and the opportunities for us to be part of that growth, we made the decision to invest aggressively”.