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2
Feb-18
Friday

Valentine's Day spending in the US will rise 8% this year

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According to the NRF, Valentine's Day spending in the US will rise 8% this year, driven by spending on… pets.  American consumers are expected to spend 27% more on their pets, to reach $751 million. Katherine Cullen, NRF's director of retail and consumer insights, said that "Millennials are the largest generation of pet owners, and they are doting pet parents."
1
Feb-18
Thursday

ALERT: Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme

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ALERT  Just a reminder: from the 22 February 2018 the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme becomes effective in Australia.  The relevant Act applies to businesses with an annual turnover of $3 million or more, meaning practically all retailers.  The scheme applies to “data breaches involving personal information that are likely to result in serious harm to any individual affected”.  The phrase ‘likely to occur’ means the risk of serious harm to an individual is more probable than not (rather than possible). ‘Serious harm’ is not defined in the Privacy Act, but in the context of a data breach, serious harm to an individual may include serious physical, psychological, emotional, financial, or reputational harm.  One of the consequences of this new scheme for retailers will be market damage, as the forced disclosure will expose data breaches previously wiped under the carpet… 

NRF: economic inertia relief since Trump took office

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The National Retailer Federation in the US commented that “the nation has seen a welcome relief from economic inertia since Trump took office”.  It is amazing what can be achieved in the economy by just repealing a few highly restrictive regulations and by realigning the tax system.  Possibly this is a clue for Australian politicians?

H&M announces a 34% decline in profits

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H&M announced a 34% decline in profits.  A few years ago H&M appeared unstoppable, but the ongoing reshuffle in the fashion market caught up with them as well.  There still seems to be momentum in H&M but it is now more related to new store openings than to like-on-like growth.  The evidence that the latter is weak emerges from the intention to close 170 stores in 2018.

Godfrey’s earnings decline by 42%

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According to Inside Retail, Godfrey’s earnings declined by 42%.  Sales declined by 6% for the second half in 2017.  The business has been under pressure from online operators, appliance and department stores.  It looks like it needs a serious refresh…  Switch from corporate to franchise model helped a bit, but clearly this was not enough.
31
Jan-18
Wednesday

JB HiFi shares have grow over 25% since November 2017

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JB HiFi shares have grown over 25% since November 2017, putting short-sellers into a painful position.  The expected heavy impact of Amazon on the JB business didn’t materialise and the business issued a profit upgrade.  We did expect that the initial impact of Amazon would be minimal, as whatever the portion of brick and mortar that was to be shifted online, has already been shifted.  The battle will be most likely within the online space.

SFG assessing bid from Gary Perlstein’s consortium

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Specialty Fashion Group is on the market again, assessing a bid from Gary Perlstein’s consortium.  If successful, this would take the company private, making the repair job easier.  The Group suffered a loss last year and announced its intention to close as many as 300 stores.  It would be interesting to see what strategy and resources Gary would deploy to make the shift back to profit.
30
Jan-18
Tuesday

Zara tests concept click and collect London store

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The Independent in the UK reported that Zara has opened a temporary shop in London that focuses on click-and-collect services, including returns and exchanges of online purchases. The store will stay open while the nearby flagship undergoes renovations.  Could this be an interesting, general idea for other retailers?  A brick and mortar customer service counter for e-commerce?

Electricity prices double in Victoria and SA

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The Australian reported today that electricity prices in South Australia and Victoria doubled over the last 12 months.  This impacts everyone, including retailers.  Some are being hurt badly, if they need refrigeration or freezers to run their business.  The state governments still haven’t learnt that when you reduce supply below the demand (by closing power stations), the rules of basic economics cut in, driving prices up.  To add insult to the injury, the expensive power is also increasingly unreliable, as South Australia and Victoria shift further towards intermittent energy sources.