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Virtual shoppers set to reach a new Lowe

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Faw, Larissa             Larissa Faw

NOWADAYS, more than 80 per cent of the nation’s appliance shoppers first start looking for their needs online, which is why big-box store Lowe’s is enhancing its online presentation.
The chain’s aim is to improve its viewers’ product search and to enhance the website’s videos as well as improving its presentation with such innovations as 360-degree views and simplified product groupings.
The company recently said that, for the seventh time in the past eight years, JD Power & Associates has ranked it highest in customer satisfaction among appliance retailers “based upon our knowledgeable sales specialists, breadth of assortment, competitive pricing and delivery”.
Customized dressers
Last year Nordstrom acquired Trunk Club, a personalized innovative clothing service for men. Now, TC stylists have collaborated with Nordstrom’s buying teams to pilot a complementary service to women with a full launch expected in September.
Buffalo wings
Prices for Sanderson Farms’ chicken jumbo wings averaged $1.48 per pound, up by 29.5 per cent from the average of $1.14 during last year’s third quarter. However, boneless-breast prices were lower year over year, declining by 25.4 per cent to an average of $1.48 per pound.
The meat processor is selling a lot more chicken overall. It sold 899.7 million pounds of poultry during Q3, a 15.3 per cent increase from the 780.6 million pounds sold during the previous year’s third quarter.
Mobile provider
Electronics retailer Best Buy has stores within 15 minutes of 70 per cent of the US population. This fall the electronics chain will introduce its first Apple-authorized service with pilots in 50 stores.
Pigs no longer flying
There’s a dramatic change in pork prices. The average USDA price of pork was $83 in July, almost a 40 per cent decline from its July 2014 rate of $133.
Bagged munchies
Shoppers really like cereal in a bag. Post Holdings’ sales of MOM Brands bagged cereals have jumped by seven per cent in recent times. However, cereal sales continue to disappoint in general for the company and, as a result, it is discontinuing several Honey Bunches Of Oats varieties.
Older is better
Older dealerships in the Car Mart chain sell more cars than newer sites. The automotive chain’s 10-year-plus lots are selling an average of 31.3 units per month per lot whereas dealerships that are five to 10 years old are moving 28.7 per month and those less than five years old are seeing only 25.1 driven off their individual lots each month.
Pretenders
Athletic shoes might be Foot Locker’s stock in trade but the company’s executives acknowledge that most shoppers aren’t using them for sports.
“Most of the shoes that we sell are technically used for casual use,” the company’s Dick Johnson said when reporting on FL’s recent performance.
“Every running shoe that we sell certainly doesn’t see the track or the road to run miles in. Every basketball shoe sold doesn’t see the court to play a game
of hoops.
“So, when we refer to casual, we refer to vulcanized and canvas sort of products and that’s really where the challenge has been through the quarter.”
Laughing matter
Television channel Comedy Central says its Justin Bieber Roast in March generated 26 million streams on Viacom sites and apps, with more than 400,000 live streams, and drove the highest single-day of downloads for the Comedy Central app. On social platforms, the program generated some seven billion impressions.
Click and ship
Major retailer Walmart is testing a $50 service offering unlimited free shipping for online purchases for one year. The retailer has also opened two new automated online fulfillment centers, each bigger than 20 football fields, with two more centers coming this fall.
High bidders
Auctioneer Richie Bros says there are overly pessimistic pricing expectations for the resale of some machines, especially those that can be moved from one sector such as oil and gas into another like construction.
Winch tractors are priced below expectations, while crawler tractors and bulldozers are particularly likely to be priced higher than their actual resale rate.
So far in 2015, three-to-five-year-old equipment – Richie Bros’ traditional sweet spot – has comprised 24 per cent of the company’s sales, up from 19 per cent during 2014.

Hard-up Texans dressing for less
ANALYSTS are concerned that lower oil prices are causing Texas residents to slow their spending but discount retailer Ross says that, overall, the state has consistently been a good performer for its sales.
In the year to date, the clothing chain’s Texas locations have performed above its national store average and the state continues to be one of its best-performing regions.
However, the company with the dress-for-less signature said the strength could be because Texas consumers are trading down from more expensive retailers.

Larissa Faw covers business trends for Forbes, The Motley Fool and other financial websites. She can be contacted at larissafaw@gmail.com.

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