News Briefs

03/22/2022

Retail sales rose 3.2% in January amid Omicron surge: Statistics Canada

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Large group of people gathered together in the shape of growing graph arrow

Retail sales rose 3.2% to $58.9 billion in January, even with public health restrictions in several parts of the country to deal with the Omicron surge in COVID-19 cases at the start of the year, Statistics Canada said Friday.

However, the agency said its early estimate for February suggested retail sales fell 0.5% for that month, though it cautioned the figure would be revised.

BMO economist Shelly Kaushik said retail sales, which fell in December, posted an impressive rebound in January, despite the persistent restrictions and pandemic concerns.

"Still, it looks like activity pulled back in February, likely with some diversion into services spending as restrictions loosened in that month," Kaushik wrote in a report.

"Overall, consumer demand remains robust, even as another month of strong inflation eroded some purchasing power."

Earlier this week, Statistics Canada said the annual inflation rate for February rose to 5.7% compared with a year-over-year rise in the consumer price index of 5.1% in January.

Statistics Canada said Friday retail sales were up in nine of the 11 subsectors it tracks.

The rise in January was led by an improvement at motor vehicle and parts dealers which gained 5.3% helped by a 5.5% increase at new car dealers and a 9.7% rise at used car dealers. Sales at gasoline stations were unchanged in January.

Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales rose 2.9%.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers gained 8.9%, while sales at food and beverage stores rose 2.2%.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores saw sales fall 3.5%.

In volume terms, overall retail sales rose 2.9% in January.

03/11/2022

Canadian Tire unveils $3.4 billion plan to improve customer experience, drive growth

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Canadian Tire sign against a blue sky

Canadian Tire Corp. has announced a multi-billion dollar plan to improve customer service and bolster sales.

The retailer, which operates several banners including Canadian Tire, SportChek and Mark's, says the $3.4-billion investment will "bolster omnichannel capabilities'' and drive long-term growth.

The company says the investment will help improve customer experience across its online and brick-and-mortar stores while growing its loyalty program.

Canadian Tire says it will also strengthen its supply chain fulfilment infrastructure and automation and modernize its information technology infrastructure.

Chief executive Greg Hicks says the investments will improve customer experiences, create jobs and help drive local economies.

The announcement was made as Canadian Tire kicked off its virtual investor day, where the company's leadership team are expected to provide further details on the plan.

"The future will belong to retailers who can provide the most seamless experience across digital and physical channels,'' Hicks said during his opening remarks Thursday.

"We'll create a seamless omnichannel experience that is unified across our portfolio of retail banners, products and services.''

03/09/2022

7-Eleven Japan pilots holographic self checkout kiosks

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holographic check out.

7-Eleven Japan is running a pilot trial at six stores in Tokyo, using contactless self-checkout kiosks with holographic displays. 

The holographic displays are equipped with Neonode's Touch Sensor Modules, which make it possible to interact with the images projected by the holographic displays mid-air, in a similar way to a normal touch display. 

Demand for contactless shopping has surged during the coronavirus pandemic and these new holographic self-checkout kiosks tap into the trend, accepting only including credit cards, e-money cards and QR codes. Plus, they take up about 30% less space than existing cash registers, leaving more space for product displays.

"We are pleased and excited to see this initiative, where our technology is simplifying and enhancing the customer experience and making the interaction with the underlying device or system safer, more hygienic, and more convenient to use, which further emphasizes the importance of Neonode's contactless touch technology in the retail segment," said Urban Forssell, CEO of Neonode.

03/07/2022

7-Eleven Canada relaunches the Big Bite hot dog

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7-Eleven Big Bite hot dog

7-Eleven Canada is relaunching its Big Bite with a new 1/4 lbs hot dog from Schneiders and Big Bite Bar in its 600 branded stores.

The new Big Bite features a 100% all beef, all Canadian hot dog from Schneiders, a Canadian company founded in 1890. Big Bite fans will also have the option to customize their hot dog with more 13 toppings ranging from classic ketchup, mustard and relish to chili, nacho cheese, salsa, BBQ sauce, sauerkraut and more. 

“At 7-Eleven Canada, our winning formula is combining convenience and a broad assortment to provide choice, customization and a bit of fun. And this is no exception for our Big Bite,” says Norman Hower, VP & GM of 7-Eleven Canada. “We know Canadians are going to love the taste of the new Big Bite and the ability to fully customize their hot dog at the Big Bite Bar.”

Big Bite is available 24/7 on the grill at 7-Eleven locations, both for in-store visitors and delivery.

03/04/2022

Hershey puts "SHE" at the centre of Women's History Month in the U.S.

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Sign of Hershey on the building of Hershey Canada in Mississauga, an American company and one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world.

The Hershey Co. is celebrating the "SHE" at the centre of its milk chocolate bars as part of Women's History Month celebrations in the United States. The new Hershey's bar is a reminder to celebrate the impact that SHE makes, with limited-edition "Celebrate SHE" bars now available nationwide while supplies last.

"We are surrounded by women and girls that inspire us every single day. Creating this simple, but powerful and colourful change to our iconic milk chocolate bar serves as a reminder of how important they are in our lives," said Veronica Villasenor, vice president, U.S., The Hershey Co. "So grab a Hershey's bar, share one and celebrate all women and girls through a simple, and sweet, gesture."

To continue the celebration of "SHE," Hershey's is partnering with Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization with a mission focused on supporting, empowering and inspiring girls to realize their limitless potential. As part of the partnership, Hershey's is donating $150,000 to Girls on the Run.

"For over 25 years, Girls on the Run has inspired girls and women to be confident and resilient while finding strength in connection with one another," said Elizabeth Kunz, CEO of Girls on the Run. "We are proud to partner with Hershey's Celebrate SHE campaign to shine a light on all the amazing SHEs in our lives!"

In addition to the work the Hershey's brand is doing through Celebrate SHE, The Hershey Co. was named No. 1 on the World's Top Female-Friendly Companies list by Forbes in 2021. It is among only a handful of Fortune 500 companies led by women. Hershey is committed to equal pay, career development and supporting impactful non-profit partners among other initiatives to support women.

Pennsylvania-based The Hershey Co. has more than 90 brands around the world that drive more than $8 billion in annual revenues, including brand names like Hershey's, Reese's, Kit Kat, Jolly Rancher, Ice Breakers, SkinnyPop and Pirate's Booty.

-Originally published at Convenience Store News

03/04/2022

Amazon shuttering its physical bookstores and 4-star shops

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Amazon Go Store exterior with crowds

Amazon is closing all of its brick-and-mortar bookstores, as well as its 4-star shops and pop up locations, as the online retail behemoth reworks its physical footprint.

The Seattle-based company said Wednesday that the move, which affects 66 stores in the U.S. and two in the United Kingdom, will enable it to concentrate its efforts on Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, its convenience concept called Amazon Go and its upcoming Amazon Style stores. Amazon Style, which will sell fashion and accessories, is set to open in a Southern California mall later this year.

"We remain committed to building great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies and we're working closely with our affected employees to help them find new roles within Amazon," the company said in a statement.

It couldn't be learned immediately how many Amazon workers are being affected.

Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in 2015, two decades after it began selling books online and helped drive a number of shops out of business. Amazon's 4-star shops, which first made their debut in 2018, carry a limited selection of best-selling products from top categories that Amazon.com sells, including devices, consumer electronics, toys and games.

The move comes as Amazon.com Inc.'s overall revenue growth is slowing, and it's looking for new ways to reignite sales.

Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said the strategy comes as a surprise. He said he believes it's an acknowledgement that the bookstores weren't delivering the returns Amazon was looking for.

Saunders said he thinks the main problem with Amazon’s non-food stores is that they lacked a real purpose even though the merchandise was well-presented.

“They were designed for people to pop in and browse rather than as destinations where people would head on a mission to buy something,“ he wrote in a note on Wednesday. He noted that ultimately that wasn't good for driving customer traffic, especially in an era where people are visiting shops less.

Saunders added that the other problem is the assortment which, in many locations, was disjoined and unfocused.

-The Canadian Press