With consumer confidence among poor waning, Family Dollar ups assortment, enhances checkout to add trips
MATTHEWS, N.C. — One consequence of the government shutdown may be the erosion of consumer confidence among the poor, noted dollar store operator Howard Levine, executive chairman and CEO of Family Dollar, in a conference call with analysts last week. "The way I think about these kind of things is it’s just not a help to consumer confidence," he said. "The threat of the shutdown, the uncertainty regarding some of the government assistance that our consumers impact, the uncertainty around job growth are very real to our customer everyday."
According to Levine, more than 50% of the shoppers walking the Family Dollar aisle benefit from some sort of government assistance. "So when they hear and read about all this uncertainty, I think it impacts their confidence regarding their outlook."
"While many higher-income consumers are feeling better and more confident about the future, our core customer continues to struggle," Michael Bloom, Family Dollar president and COO remarked earlier in the call. "They are dealing with tepid job growth, higher taxes and reductions in government assistance programs. The uncertainty is likely to continue as our government debates the future of many of these programs. In addition, we will continue to face difficult consumables comp comparisons. Our most difficult comparison of the year will be in the first quarter as we anniversary about a 12% comp increase in consumables," he said. "[However], these comparisons will ease as we move throughout fiscal 2014."
But the uncertainty on Main Street is becoming a challenge for those looking to meet and beat expectations on Wall Street. Family Dollar has significantly increased assortment in an effort to become more relevant to more shoppers, Bloom said. "The customer response has been very strong, and these enhancements are driving more trips. But we see further opportunities to make improvements in key consumables categories" he said. "As retailers, and you have heard me say this on several occasions, this is what we do. This year, we will continue to optimize our consumables assortment and continue to focus on being first with new items and with innovation. We will continue to sharpen our pricing strategy, making sure that we are priced right in key areas where the customer expects us to be right. We will continue to make strategic price investments to further enhance our strong value perception."
And Family Dollar is rolling out its latest look to consumers featuring an enhanced checkout area to entice return trips. "This area has been redesigned to increase the speed of checkout, improve the customer and team member flow and experience, and most importantly, drive sales of high-impulse and high-margin merchandise," Bloom said. "The new checkout will be in all renovated and new stores beginning in January."
Family Dollar opens store No. 8,000
LANCASTER, S.C. — Family Dollar last week opened its 8,000th store here, the company announced.
"Lancaster is proud to have been selected as the site of Family Dollar’s 8,000th store," stated Joe Shaw, Lancaster’s mayor. "We look forward to partnering with Family Dollar to meet the retail needs of our citizens."
"We have over 200 stores in South Carolina, so it certainly is a great fit for us to open this landmark store in the state," commented Howard Levine, Family Dollar chairman and CEO.
Hannaford opens community wellness center
ALBANY, N.Y. — Hannaford Supermarkets has teamed up with Capital District YMCA and CDPHP to open the Healthy Living Center, a community-centered wellness facility that offers a holistic approach to health and wellness, as well as assistance with health insurance needs.
The Healthy Living Center is located inside Hannaford Supermarkets in Albany. The concept of partnering with other entities to create and operate a wellness center focused on the needs of a particular community is a first on the national level for each of the organizations.
The 5,277-square-foot Healthy Living Center, which opened in early October, offers the community a variety of programs that support healthy living and wellness in the community, such as group exercise classes, weight management classes, nutrition seminars, personal training and senior fitness classes, as well as programs that address specific health needs, such as the Pedaling for Parkinson’s and diabetes prevention programs. Fees may apply for some offerings.
“Hannaford is deeply committed to addressing the health and wellness needs of the communities in which we live and operate. The Healthy Living Center will provide a critical service to individuals and families throughout the Capital Region,” stated Rudy DiPietro, VP retail operations for Hannaford Supermarkets. “We look forward to welcoming our shoppers to this pioneering facility which will undoubtedly serve as a new model for community health services.”
Member services representatives from CDPHP are available daily to answer questions regarding health and insurance needs, and are also available to help people understand their Medicare and New York State Health Exchange options.