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CFOs note factors that will drive holiday sales in new survey

BY Allison Cerra

TORONTO Many retail CFOs are adjusting their outlooks as the holiday season approaches, according to a new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The survey, which polled 56 CFOs (33 North American and 23 international) from retail chains in the specialty, grocery and department store sectors, noted that many CFOs are observing a slow turnaround, as more shoppers reportedly have become more optimistic this year. Other factors that may influence holiday shoppers and related spending include advertising, e-commerce and new store openings, the CFOs said.

When dissecting these factors, PwC found that:

  • Nearly half (49%) of CFOs surveyed believed their customers are feeling slightly more optimistic about their financial situation and have begun to slowly resume retail purchases;
  • Many CFOs noted that retailers are more focused now on spending advertising dollars on retaining and growing current customers instead of acquiring new shoppers;
  • While all participating retailers have websites, only 67% of CFOs said that their sites actually were e-commerce transactional sites; and
  • About one-third of retailers surveyed continued to defer new store openings where possible, but those that deferred did so on a smaller percentage of planned new stores.

“Retailers continue to strategically manage spend and have worked hard to minimize the risk of owning too much inventory, placing them in a better position than in 2009. These actions have been a key driver to improving retail balance sheets in 2010, and the continued focus will be critical in the year ahead,” said Susan McPartlin, U.S. retail and consumer industry leader at PwC.

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Assured sees high rise in same-store sales

BY Alaric DeArment

FRISCO, Texas September same-store sales at Assured Pharmacy increased by 13.5% compared with last year, the specialty pharmacy provider said Thursday.

Assured, which specializes in treating chronic pain, said sales were $1.4 million, or around $66,253 per business day, compared with $1.23 million a year ago.

“We are pleased with our September sales results and our continued patient growth, with 3,064 patients serviced in the month of September,” CEO Robert DelVecchio said. “As these sales figures reflect, we remain on track for increased sales and market share growth, improved earnings at the store level and stronger cash flow.”

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Retailers, drug makers can help cut diabetes rate

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The dramatic rise in the prevalence of diabetes over the next several decades is likely to place huge strains on the U.S. healthcare system, costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year. It also means the diabetes market will continue to be a hot bed for innovation for decades to come.

(THE NEWS: Diabetes prevalence among Americans may increase to 33%, CDC study finds. For the full story, click here)

Barring a cure for the disease or a dramatic reversal of current trends, the plague of Type 2 diabetes is likely to get worse and account for numerous hospitalizations, as it already does. According to the government Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly 1-in-5 U.S. hospitalizations in 2008 were related to diabetes, with the greatest concentration in the South.

No individual, company or even government agency can reverse the trend on its own, but many — including retailers — can help. And that will continue to feed a frenzy of activity in this space.

Agrowing number of supermarkets across the country have used various means to promote healthy eating, ranging from easy-to-read nutritional rating systems to in-store nutrition experts and store tours. Meanwhile, pharmacists and retail clinicians, as healthcare providers, can use their expertise to spread awareness as well. Rite Aid stores will offer free Diabetes Solutions Days events Nov. 2 through 4.

Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross has won recognition for a pilot diabetes program, “Bridging Cultural Health Care Gaps: Diabetes,” which seeks to find culturally appropriate ways to communicate about diabetes to African-American and Hispanic members. Anthem conducted the pilot among 4,000 of its members in California and Georgia, and plans to expand the program to other states. 

More of these localized types of efforts — borne out of the spirit of the Ashville Project — continue to arise.

And of course, manufacturers continue to lead the innovation, and many are going beyond just products. Novo Nordisk recently released the BlueSheet, a report that promotes awareness and education in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

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