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Study: Retailers aim for consistent customer experience in holiday season

BY Alaric DeArment

ATLANTA — A majority of retailers say delivering a consistent customer experience is their top priority this holiday season, according to a new survey.

Supply chain and retail technology provider RedPrairie released results of its "Holiday Hiring Snapshot" survey of 250 big-box, specialty, grocery, convenience store and food service retailers based in the United States, finding that nearly 60% cited the importance of consistency, with 29% saying they would hire more seasonal workers this year than last year.

"Today’s hyper-connected consumers give retailers little margin for error when it comes to delivering a superior, consistent customer experience across all shopping channels, and this is amplified during the holidays," RedPrairie director of marketing Dave Bruno said. "To achieve this, retailers will rely on the union of people and products to make customers feel good about their shopping experiences no matter which channel is utilized for the transaction. There is a lot of pressure on retailers to get things right."

The survey also found that nearly 40% of retailers will have the greatest number of seasonal employees on the clock in December, but that big increases in staffing require training, scheduling, time and attendance, and task management to prepare staff to deal with customers.

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CVS Caremark pays tribute to disabled military veterans at Gillette Stadium

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — In recognition of Veterans Day, CVS Caremark paid homage to nearly 50 disabled military veterans from across New England on Nov. 10, treating them to a football skills camp at Gillette Stadium in partnership with the New England Patriots.

The CVS Caremark/New England Patriots Veterans Skills Camp paired Patriots Super Bowl champions with veterans from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire for a day of fun and skills training at Gillette Stadium.

The special camp, created by CVS Caremark and the Patriots, kicked off with veterans experiencing the thrill of taking the field through an oversized Patriots helmet. It continued with veterans honing their football skills at blocking, throwing and kicking stations run by Super Bowl champions Patrick Pass, Matt Chatham, Jermaine Wiggins and Steve Nelson; a special dinner on the sidelines; and an opportunity to get autographs from and take pictures with the Patriots alumni, cheerleaders and mascot Pat Patriot. As part of the camp, the veterans received tickets for a visit to The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.

The CVS Caremark/New England Patriots Veterans Skills Camp was an extension of CVS Caremark’s commitment to individuals with disabilities and the company’s overall commitment to supporting military and veteran-focused organizations.

“It is such an honor to do something special for these men and women who have sacrificed so much to serve and protect our country, and it seemed fitting to partner with the New England Patriots as we recognize these veterans — some of our nation’s true patriots,” stated Eileen Howard Boone, SVP of corporate communications and community relations for CVS Caremark. “What makes this skills camp especially meaningful is that we have a number of CVS Caremark colleagues here today volunteering their time.”

CVS Caremark teamed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs New England Adaptive Sports program — a program of the VA Boston Healthcare System — to identify veterans to participate in the football skills camp at Gillette Stadium.

Over the years, CVS Caremark has provided charitable support to military and veteran-focused organizations, including the National Guard, Fisher House, Operation Military Embrace and the USO. The company has also worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program to identify and hire veterans, has partnered with the Boston Red Sox for the last two years on baseball skills camps at Fenway Park for disabled veterans and has established a colleague resource group for veterans, called Valor, within CVS Caremark.

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Rite Aid donates additional $100,000 to hurricane-relief efforts

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is donating $100,000 to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in addition to what it has donated already, the retail pharmacy chain said.

Rite Aid announced that it would donate $50,000 each to the Empire State Relief Fund, established by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and the New Jersey Relief Fund, established by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The chain already donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross’ relief efforts in October.

"So many of our customers and associates have asked what they can do to help the people of New York and New Jersey rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Sandy," Rite Aid president, chairman and CEO John Standley said. "By launching our in-store fundraising program during the busiest shopping time of the year for our stores, we can draw on the higher store traffic and the sense of giving surrounding the holiday season to raise as much as we can to help those in need."

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