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Walgreens helps create more job opportunities for people with disabilities in Connecticut

BY Antoinette Alexander

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Nearly one year after launching an initiative to help create more job opportunities for people with disabilities in Connecticut, 62 participants have completed training under the Walgreens Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative program, the retailer announced on Wednesday.

The program’s goal: To prepare qualified candidates for employment at Walgreens retail locations, as well as employment with other retailers that require similar skills. Of those who completed training, 17 have already obtained jobs at Walgreens locations throughout Connecticut.

Walgreens launched REDI in the state on Nov. 1, 2011. The in-store extern training program aims to help people with disabilities gain retail and customer service skills, and works closely with community organizations and vocational rehabilitation agencies to train and develop candidates. Walgreens is working with the state’s Bureau of Rehabilitation Services to assist with training for the REDI program. The program prepares participants for responsibilities that include cash register operations, customer service, merchandising, store inventory and maintaining store signage and displays.

This May, Walgreens launched the REDI program nationally. The first phase of REDI includes parts of Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin, with plans to reach all states by the end of 2013. Once a local agency is identified, there is a four-week training program that takes place in up to five stores per district. The REDI pilot began in Dallas/Fort Worth in 2010. After more than 200 trainees completed the program, 66% of whom were recommended for hire, the program grew to more than 60 stores throughout Texas, New York and Connecticut.

To date, more than 400 candidates have completed REDI training. Of those, 66% of trainees acquired the full skill-set needed to perform a service clerk position in a similar retail setting. Walgreens has hired nearly 130 people.

This month, Walgreens was named 2012 Employer of the Year by the U.S. Business Leadership Network. The organization is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan business-to-business network promoting workplaces, marketplaces and supply chains where people with disabilities are included. Walgreens received this honor for its continued commitment to helping people with disabilities develop productive and successful careers.

Walgreens Distribution Centers

Walgreens began designing its distribution center facilities and training for people with disabilities with the opening of its DC in Anderson, S.C., in 2007. The new DC, followed by the opening of another similar facility in Windsor, Conn., in 2009, helps drive opportunity, efficiency and productivity for the entire workforce. At the Connecticut facility, more than 40% of the workforce consists of people with disabilities.

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MinuteClinic opens first retail-based clinics in Asheville, N.C. market

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic has opened three walk-in clinics inside CVS/pharmacy stores in the Asheville, N.C. area, and three additional locations are expected to open by year-end.

The new clinics are located in Arden, Asheville and Hendersonville. Three additional clinics are expected to open by the end of the year in Asheville, Brevard and Waynesville.

MinuteClinic launched its first medical clinics in North Carolina in 2005 and now has 41 locations inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in the Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro/Winston-Salem and Raleigh-Durham markets.

Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic and SVP/ associate chief medical officer CVS Caremark, believes MinuteClinic can help alleviate the severe primary care shortage that is expected to worsen over the coming decade in North Carolina.

"We believe MinuteClinic can be part of the solution to help broaden access to high-quality, convenient and affordable healthcare services in North Carolina," he stated.

 

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Survey: Consumers saving up for the holidays

BY Gail Hoffer

NEW YORK — Consumers are planning ahead for the holidays, with 51% saying they have set aside the cash needed to complete their shopping lists, according to Accenture’s annual consumer holiday shopping study.
 
The Accenture holiday shopping survey shows that consumers are expected to spend an average of $582 on holiday shopping this season, and 23% plan to spend more than $750. Half (52%) expect to increase their spending by $250 or more. However, only 5% say they expect to be “extravagant” in their holiday shopping, and only 8% said they would “splurge”.
 
This year’s survey also found that half (52%) of consumers would be willing to shop online on Thanksgiving Day if retailers offer discounts, and 53% plan to shop on Black Friday, which would reverse a three-year trend of declining interest in Black Friday shopping indicated by Accenture’s previous surveys. In 2011, the survey showed that only 44% of respondents were interested in shopping on Black Friday, down from 47% in 2010 and 52 percent in 2009.
 
“The U.S. consumer refuses to be counted out and is entering this holiday season better prepared and more willing to open his or her wallet,” said Chris Donnelly, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Self-sacrificing will be down and spending will be slightly up, however, our research also shows that shoppers will remain disciplined in their spending. They will have a desire to maximize the value of their dollar and a hunger for discounts, which will put pressure on retailers’ profits and margins. Retailers need to focus on creating in-store excitement, providing standout products and services, and delivering a seamless experience regardless of which shopping channel the customer uses.”
 
In order to find the best deals, many shoppers (56%) admit that they will likely to participate in “showrooming” this holiday season, which means that after seeing a product in a physical store, they would search online for the best price and then purchase online. Twent-seven percent of these same shoppers say they would likely make the purchase online, using their smartphone or tablet, while they are still out shopping.
 
Accenture’s survey offers evidence that pressure on consumers’ finances may be easing as fewer people are planning to cut back on spending for themselves (40%, compared with 46% in 2011 and 52% in 2010).

Further, out of the 63% of consumers who expect to spend the same on their holiday shopping this year, the survey indicates a more positive outlook than last year. Twenty-four percent of those consumers say they are spending the same because living expenses have increased, compared with 34% in 2011. Also, fewer consumers have concerns about the economy (23%, compared with 30% in 2011), and fewer believe that they have less discretionary income this year (30%, compared with 34% in 2011).
 
Discounts and promotions on holiday gift items remain a driver for the vast majority of shoppers, cited by 82% as important, a slight decrease to the 93% who said the same in 2011. Three quarters of respondents (78%) say that at least half of their holiday shopping purchases will be discounted items, and half (50%) will be looking for a discount between 20% to 40% off the original product price.

Other results from the survey include:

  • Tablets and smartphones will be used by 25% of consumers to buy holiday gifts;

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  • One-third (34%) of respondents say they will likely shop on "Cyber Monday;"

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  •  Three quarters (75%) of shoppers say they will buy gifts at discount retailers; and

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  •  Nearly one-quarter (23%) of U.S. consumers plan to shop between Black Friday and the end of November.

 

 

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