If you’ve read retail stories in The Oklahoman (and I certainly hope you have!), you’ve probably heard of ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based retail technology company that anonymously counts people in stores and malls. ShopperTrak ranks the busiest shopping days each holiday season. On Monday, ShopperTrak announced its new wireless technology, which is capable of collecting data down to the precision of one square meter, measuring both the number of customers using heat mapping and how long shoppers remain in one area. It’s kind of amazing to think stores have access to data this specific and can use it to adjust their merchandise and store’s layout. ShopperTrak is promoting the new technology at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention and expo, going on this week in New York City.
Target announced Tuesday it will price match online competitors such as Amazon year-round, a practice it introduced during the holidays. The new policy allows shoppers to receive a price match on an identical item found at a lower price within a week in Target’s circular or website or on Amazon.com and the websites of Walmart, Best Buy, Toys R Us or in a local competitor’s printed ad. Shoppers can request a price match at the guest services department before buying the item or within a week with their Target receipt and proof of the competitor’s price. Read more about the practice here.
Hobby Lobby fans are apparently trying to start a movement on Facebook, with events publicizing “Hobby Lobby Appreciation Day” on Saturday, Jan. 5. Fans say they’ll support the company “for being attacked for their beliefs” on this day by shopping. Of course, I’ve heard the flip side as well from some consumers who say’ll they’ll only support Hobby Lobby’s competitors until they change their stance on providing certain contraceptives to employees. Readers, know anyone participating in this appreciation day? Planning to sit it out? I’d love to hear from you.
First, retailers didn’t want to lose sales on Thanksgiving, so Black Friday came early. Now, some stores don’t want to miss those middle of the night shopping binges, so several major retailers have announced they will stay open for days at a time and hold all night shopping marathons. Macy’s will open at 7 a.m. Friday through close on Sunday, which for most stores is midnight. Stores reopen Christmas Eve until 6 p.m.
Toys R Us takes it a step farther, with an 88-consecutive hour run starting at 6 a.m. Friday. Stores remain open until 10 p.m. Christmas Eve.
“By extending our shopping hours in the days leading up to Christmas, customers can take advantages of around-the-clock shopping at Toys R Us stores nationwide for all of their gift-giving needs whenever is most convenient to them,” said Troy Rice, executive vice president of Toys R Us stores.
Readers, what do you think? Is this good for shoppers? What about the employees who are up all night?
This happened Sunday at Sooner Mall in Norman. A fun holiday video for your Tuesday.
While I generally encourage shopping locally, there are occasions to shop online. Free Shipping Day–today– is one of them. Thousands of online merchants are offering free shipping today with delivery guaranteed by Christmas Eve, and while some have minimum purchase requirements, many do not. Of course, big box retailers are there but take some time to browse the many smaller retailers and Etsy shops that are participating; free shipping may be something they wouldn’t normally offer. Check out the offers at www.freeshippingday.com.
Target announced Wednesday it will open a store in Lawton in July 2013 in the Lawton Marketplace shopping center. The 135,000-square-foot store will be one of 13 stores the Minneapolis-based retailer plans to open next year. The store will employ 200-250 workers and hiring will begin two months before opening. The most recent Oklahoma Target store opened in Moore in 2011.
Following the success of The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City, other retailers are beginning to pop up in the parcels surrounding the mall at I-40 and Council Road. Mathis Brothers celebrated the grand opening of its Sleep Studio on Thursday and I wanted to share photos of the new store.
I’ve never seen retailers ranked by which is “happiest” before, so I thought this survey was interesting. CareerBliss, an online job site, ranked top retailers by which retail employees were happiest, using factors like work-life balance, senior management, compensation, benefits, job security, whether the employee would recommend his or her employer, the work the employee does, the company culture and the employee’s work environment. Perhaps employees’ happiness will rub off on shoppers too!
Notably absent from this list are the two biggies: Target and Walmart.
Top 10 Happiest Retailers in America
3. Office Max
4. Best Buy
6. Bath & Body Works
7. Office Depot
Late last week most retailers released (or had leaked) their Black Friday advertisements, including opening times. Some of the biggest destinations (Toys R Us, Target, Walmart) will start Black Friday sales as early as Thanksgiving evening, encroaching on family turkey time. Retailers say earlier sales is what consumers want, but the shoppers I’ve talked to said they’d rather spend Thanksgiving with family and save shopping for the wee morning hours on Friday. Readers, what do you think?
Black Friday opening times for area retailers:
Toys R Us: 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
Target: 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
Walmart: typically open 24 hours, Black Friday sales begin at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Sears: 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
Best Buy: midnight.
Dick’s Sporting Goods: midnight.
J.C. Penney: 6 a.m. Black Friday.
The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City: 10 p.m. Thanksgiving.
Penn Square Mall: midnight.