Tag Archives: Target

King of the Hill?

While the story is about Wal-Mart, the interesting point is that failure comes very, very quickly in retail.

Wal-Mart recently reported that it will be laying off 2,300 workers at its Sam’s Club subsidiary, reportedly to cut the fat of middle management. Layoffs in and of themselves aren’t uncommon at any large company — competitor Target (NYSE: TGT ) also recently said it would lay off nearly 500 employees and keep hundreds more positions vacant — but such personnel reductions also aren’t something a growing company does very often.

What’s worth keeping an eye on is whether the Sam’s Club layoffs are a symptom of much larger problems at Wal-Mart. The company has been a giant of retail for decades, but there are signs that its reign is coming to an end.

Retail is a tough business to be in.

It doesn’t take long for a retailer to go from the top of the world to bankrupt. Kmart lost just $22 million in the second quarter of 2001, but was bankrupt by Jan. 22, 2002. In the four months leading up to bankruptcy, same-store sales fell 1.8%, 4.4%, 2.6%, and 1%, respectively, from a year earlier. You don’t need a big decline in sales to suck up all of your profits in retail.

Circuit City reported a 4.2% rise in same-store sales as late as December 2006, even raising its fiscal-year guidance to growth of 7%-8% in U.S. stores. But by December 2007, same-store sales were down 11% for the month and the company would be out of business by November 2008. From optimism to bust in less than two years.

The reason that retailers are sensitive to declines in sales is that there is a lot of overhead that goes into selling in brick-and-mortar stores. Wal-Mart spent $89.2 billion on overhead over the past year, and based on current margins and overhead spending, it would only take a 13.6% decline in sales to eat up all of Wal-Mart’s profits.

Amazon is Wal-Mart’s biggest competitor

What makes Amazon a bigger threat today is the company’s sheer size. It’s now bigger than Target, and every percentage point of growth takes growth away from Wal-Mart. In fact, Wal-Mart’s budget-conscious consumers are probably more likely to shop on Amazon than Target’s consumers.

Changing face of the United States

I read this and I can’t help but think that the United States is going through a massive societal reordering because of horrible economic decisions made because of globalization

Some improvement in the U.S. economy and declines in the jobless rate, plus gains in stock and home prices, are failing to resonate with many Americans whose incomes are struggling to catch up to where they were before the financial crisis.

But to many retail experts and economists there are other less cyclical factors at play. Consumers are spending more. Government figures show monthly personal consumption has risen for seven straight months, with November’s outlay marking the fastest increase in five months. But they just are not spending in the shopping malls like they used to.

And that means that, even if the economy picks up significantly, retailers of many products could still struggle.

“We are in a something of an evolutionary process, said Bill Martin, founder of data firm ShopperTrak, which monitors foot traffic in about 60,000 retail stores. Americans are spending more online and becoming more careful about what they buy, he said.

Some of this has been unfolding over a long period, although the changes might be picking up pace.

For example, department stores have found themselves on the wrong end of trends for some time. According to data compiled by Reuters, they now capture just $3.37 (U.S.) of every $100 of U.S. retail spending, the lowest since records began in 1992, when the number was nearly $9.

Some of that is explained by the rise of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other big-box discount retailers. But the pace of decline has picked up, with department stores losing about 0.28 percentage points of market share at an annualized rate between 2002 and 2011, compared with 0.22 in the prior 10 years.

The problem is two-fold. The middle class consumers to whom the likes of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. cater have struggled with stagnant wages and a payroll tax rise, prompting them to reduce spending on apparel, said Scott Tuhy, a retail analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in New York.

I am not sure if the payroll tax increase is that big of deal but you get the point that stagnate wages are hurting America’s middle class who are leaving behind middle class stores in favour of deals online and in retailers like Wal-Mart which in turn hurts them even more as more and more of their products are made elsewhere.  It’s a vicious cycle that could take decades to run its course.

Zellers employees upset at the wrong Target

I don’t really understand this

ZellersAngela Rankin knows exactly how much Target paid Zellers for the leases to 220 stores across Canada.

It wasn’t a billion. It was $1.8-billion — $1.825-billion to be more precise.

Rankin was let go on July 28 from the Zellers at Dufferin and Dupont in Toronto after 13 years working the cash, the sales floor and as a pharmacy technician, with nothing more than the legally mandated severance pay her employers were required to give.

“It’s selfishness. It’s sad,” says Rankin, 50, a mother of one who helps support cousins in Jamaica.

“I don’t know what they’re thinking. I don’t know where their mind is. It’s greediness.”

Rankin will speak at a demonstration led by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union on Wednesday, Aug. 22, at 11 a.m., in front of Target’s Canadian headquarters in Mississauga.

“Target needs to do the right thing – keep the workers and respect their wages and benefits,” says Kevin Shimmin, national representative of the UFCW Canada,

Target posted earnings Wednesday of $704 million (U.S.), or $1.06 per share, in the period ended July 30. Overall revenue rose 3.5 per cent to $16.45 million in the quarter. Revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 3.1 per cent.

The chain will open its first stores in Canada in 2013.

First of all, Target paid HBC $1.85 billion dollars for leases, not the business.  HBC is the one that kept the $1.85 billion.  It could have given bonuses to all of it’s former employees but it didn’t.  It was used to bolster it’s bottom line and no one seems upset at them.  Secondly, Target has no legal or moral imperative to keep the salary structure, benefits or jobs of the people for the property it bought.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” says Kendra Coulter, a professor at the Centre for Labour Studies at Brock University. “This is a decision that has been made at the corporate level by Target and Zellers and HBC.”

She blames Stephen Harper’s Conservative government for failing to protect workers.

“If a very profitable foreign company is going to come into our country to rebrand stores, our citizens deserve respect and some criteria have to be met. They’re not building infrastructure from scratch, they’re not creating an enterprise that didn’t exist, they are rebranding stores,” said Coulter.

Again, Target paid $1.85 billion dollars for that infrastructure and they are not continuing Zellers, they are doing away with them.  One thing that is lost here is that Zellers is a poorly run discount retailer that offers horrible customer service, has rather high prices, and poor quality stock.  I was in a couple during their clearance sales as they liquidated their stores and their prices were still higher than what Walmart.  In their electronics department, they were still selling Nintendo Game Cubes that were released a decade ago and discontinued back in 2007 still at full prices.  They had a 3.1 megapixel camera for sale that was over 13 years old on the shelves at over $200.  Years ago I was in Zellers looking for a jacket. They had the one that I wanted but it was behind all of these pallets of stock. I asked if there was anyway I could get the $140 jacket so I could buy it. I was told “no” it would be a couple of days before they got this stock put out. First of all who puts stock out so you can’t get to merchandise you want to sell. Secondly who says no to a customer who wants to spend money? Well, Zellers did.  I cringed when I walked through there.  Their shelves were a mess, stock was never put out in a timely fashion, and they never seemed to have anyone on the floor.   Can you blame Target for not wanting to bring that culture to the new stores?  If I was Target I would want staff who were trained the way I wanted them trained and did things the right way.

I feel bad for the employees but sometimes it happens that you work for a chain that isn’t run well and gets bought out.  If I was them, I would be more upset at Bonnie Brooks and the HBC board for selling rather than fixing your chain.  It’s them that screwed you over, not Target.