Retailers, consumers and prices
Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart, will use a third-party company, Shopper Events , rather than its own staff to essentially hand out food samples or demonstrate electronics to passersby, allowing Sam’s Club to let go of about 10,000 mostly part-time workers. (Though they can apply for new jobs with Shopper Events.)
Sam’s Club is also getting rid of about 1,200 staff responsible for recruiting new business members.
(The move has some echoes of Saks Inc’s decision to offload workers at its cosmetics and fragrance counters at its Fifth Avenue flagship store by the end of this month and have outside vendors staff their counters.)
While giving gift cards may have declined in popularity, some are proving quite attention-worthy and can be cashed in for a pretty penny. Online gift card site plasticjungle.com buys gift cards for cash, and then resells them, often for a bit less than the amount left on the card. It also lets people donate cards to charities.
So, what stores are hot this holiday season?
Here are the cards the site is paying the most for — up to 90 percent of the face value:
Wal-Mart, which helped promote the adoption of those funny-looking “green” lightbulbs, is making more room in its Sam’s Club warehouse stores for environmentally friendly products — including a water-saving toilet that has one button for flushing liquids and another for flushing solids.
Employees at a Sam’s Club in the discounter’s home town in Bentonville, Arkansas, have emptied shelves of things like power tools to make way for a variety of green products. Similar efforts have taken place in Sam’s Clubs across the United States.
Our tour will include visits to the company’s distribution center, a Sam’s Club warehouse store and a Walmart supercenter.
Sam’s Club and Costco work as membership clubs. Shoppers pay an annual fee that allows them to shop in the warehouses and get discounts on everything from diamond rings and big screen TVs, to bulk-sized packages of toilet paper or bottled water.
Late last month, Costco warned its quarterly profit would miss Wall Street estimates as soaring costs and inflationary pressures ate into its margins.
While the cost of the goods it sells was going up, the No 1 U.S. warehouse club operator said it was delaying passing along price increases to shoppers in order to boost its sales and appeal to cash-strapped consumers.
That situation has sparked food riots in several African countries, Indonesia, and Haiti. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that higher food prices could hurt global growth and security.