Industry: Retail
News
July 20, 2017

Now almost all of Wal-Mart’s 4,700 U.S. stores have a Cash360 machine, making thousands of positions obsolete. Most of the employees in those positions moved into store jobs to improve service, said a Wal-Mart spokesman. More than 500 have left the company. The store accountant displaced last August is now a greeter at the front door, where she still earns $13 an hour. “The role of service and customer-facing associates will always be there,” said Judith McKenna, Wal-Mart’s U.S. chief operating officer. But, she added, “there are interesting developments in technology that mean those roles shift and change over time.” Shopping is moving online, hourly wages are rising and retail profits are shrinking—a formula that pressures retailers, ranging from Wal-Mart to Tiffany & Co., to find technology that can do the rote labor of retail workers or replace them altogether.

News
July 13, 2017

Like many close observers of the shipping business, I know a secret about the federal government’s relationship with Amazon: The U.S. Postal Service delivers the company’s boxes well below its own costs. Like an accelerant added to a fire, this subsidy is speeding up the collapse of traditional retailers in the U.S. and providing an unfair advantage for Amazon. . . In 2007 the Postal Service and its regulator determined that, at a minimum, 5.5% of the agency’s fixed costs must be allocated to packages and similar products. A decade later, around 25% of its revenue comes from packages, but their share of fixed costs has not kept pace. First-class mail effectively subsidizes the national network, and the packages get a free ride. An April analysis from Citigroup estimates that if costs were fairly allocated, on average parcels would cost $1.46 more to deliver. It is as if every Amazon box comes with a dollar or two stapled to the packing slip—a gift card from Uncle Sam.
News
May 19, 2017

California’s new-car sales market is cooling down, but Golden State dealers remain on track to again ring up more than 2 million unit sales in 2017, according to the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealers Association.

CNCDA released its first-quarter 2017 report on Tuesday, showing 506,745 new-car sales in the period. That was up less than 1 percent from 503,463 in the opening quarter of 2016.

News
May 19, 2017

While new-vehicle registrations fell 1.4% nationally in January through March, California dealers experienced a 0.7% increase in registrations, putting the state on the path for another year of sales exceeding 2 million vehicles.

In the same time frame, 4.8% of new vehicles registered in the Golden State were zero-emission vehicles and plug-in hybrids, the highest share ever recorded.

News
May 19, 2017

Sales at U.S. stores, restaurants and online retailers increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in April from the prior month, the largest gain in three months, the Commerce Department said Friday. Also, the University of Michigan reported its consumer-sentiment index rose to 97.7 in early May—the strongest reading since January, when sentiment reached a 13-year high.

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