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Despite Defying The 'Retail Apocalypse,' At Home Reportedly Puts Itself Up For Sale
STEVE DENNIS | April 8, 2019
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Article | March 16, 2020
With supermarkets stripped of food and many other essentials, consumer product companies halted factory runs of niche items such as scented bleach in order to speed up production of more basic merchandise that is in high demand. Brick-and-mortar retailers have warned that hoarding toilet paper, cleaning supplies and food staples was fueling shortages. Amazon.com (AMZN.O), the biggest online retailer, said it sold out of many household staples after orders spiked. As the fast-spreading coronavirus continues to alarm consumers across Europe and the United States, Trump held a phone call on Sunday with 30 executives from grocery stores including Amazon.com’s Whole Foods, Target Corp (TGT.N), Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) and Walmart Inc (WMT.N). Trump Administration official Larry Kudlow assured television news viewers that U.S. supply lines were “working pretty well.”
The Warren-based retailer's sudden announcement that it would wind down operations comes only three years after its late founder, Art Van Elslander, sold the company to a Boston-based private equity firm, Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, in an estimated $550 million deal. How did a seemingly healthy, valuable and beloved company go so wrong so fast? After its 2017 acquisition, Thomas H. Lee set an aggressive strategy to open 200 more stores and double revenue to $2 billion by 2020. But being saddled with roughly $400 million in debt and no financial cushion to respond to the disruption of changing furniture habits left Art Van's business model sitting on a tinderbox. Management missteps were all the fuel needed to burn the house down.
Walmart has long been the number one retailer across all of the United States, but with the age of online shopping coming into full swing, Amazon has slowly been creeping up on the brick-and-mortar giant and, according to Forbes, is set to surpass Walmart in sales in the next few years. The two stores offer similar services an all around shopping experience that has everything from food to clothes to beauty products to household items to consumers in totally different ways. There are a number of things to consider before you decide which of these retail mega stores you want to make your next purchase from, and it goes beyond just a preference for shopping online vs. in-person. How easy the products are to get, the number of product options, and, most importantly, the price point, are all definitely important to take note of. So let’s dive in!
Last July, a small group representing the giants of the tech industry gathered in the seat of US government, Washington DC. They probably didn’t want to be there. Congress had summoned their employers Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon to answer questions about the command they hold over the markets they operate in. On Amazon’s behalf, associate general counsel Nate Sutton spoke in defense of his employer’s role in US retail. Throughout, he argued that Amazon isn’t so powerful as to be able to control prices and stifle competition. Amazon, he pointed out, makes up less than 1% of retail globally. In the US, it accounts for around 4% of retail. In fact, Walmart is much larger than Amazon, he said. In terms of sales, Sutton is right. Walmart reported $510 billion in total sales across its US and international segments in the 2019 fiscal year, versus Amazon’s $233 billion in roughly the same period.
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