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Walmart increases employee starting wage, expands parental leave

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation’s largest private employer will increase the starting wage rate for its more than one million hourly associates in the United States to $11, and provide a one-time cash bonus for eligible associates ranging from $200 to up to $1,000. (Rival Target raised its minimum wage to $11 last fall.) The company said the changes partially motivated by anticipated savings from the new tax plan, which provides deep tax cuts to corporations.

The pay increase, which takes effect in the Feb. 17, 2018, pay cycle, is in addition to wage increases Walmart has already planned for many U.S. markets in the coming fiscal year.

The cash bonus will be provided to all eligible full and part-time hourly associates. The amount will be based on length of service. Associates with at least 20 years will qualify for $1,000.

This increase in wages will be approximately $300 million incremental to what was already included in next fiscal year’s plan. The one-time bonus represents an additional payment to associates of approximately $400 million in the current fiscal year, which ends Jan. 31, 2018. Walmart said a “discrete” one-time charge will be taken in the fourth quarter of the current year to account for the bonus.

Walmart is also expanding its parental and maternity leave policy, providing full-time hourly associates in the U.S. with 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried associates will also receive six weeks of paid parental leave.

The retailer will also provide financial assistance to associates adopting a child. The adoption benefit, available to both full-time hourly and salaried associates, will total $5,000 per child and may be used for expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal or court costs.

“Today, we are building on investments we’ve been making in associates, in their wages and skills development,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO. “We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders. However, some guiding themes are clear and consistent with how we’ve been investing — lower prices for customers, better wages and training for associates and investments in the future of our company, including in technology. Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.”

Walmart said it is early in the process of assessing potential additional investments.

“That assessment will be done not only through the lens of associates, customers and shareholders, but also within Walmart’s financial framework of strong, efficient growth, consistent operating discipline and strategic capital allocation,” the company stated.

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Exemplary customer service pays big for Walgreens cashier

BY Michael Johnsen

It pays to be kind.

That's exactly what Walgreens cashier Mike Haynes learned earlier this year. One of his customers, Stacy Tasman, sought to repay that kindness with a neighborhood fundraiser that raised more than $6,000.

Then Ellen DeGeneres found out about the fundraiser. On her daytime variety program "The Ellen Show," DeGeneres and segment sponsor Shutterfly kicked in another $10,000 that was presented to a very surprised Haynes in the St. Louis-area Walgreens.

"We just love him to death," Tasman told DeGeneres. "We wanted to show him just exactly how much he means to us and give us the chance to brighten his day."
 

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Report: Amazon is preferred retailer of more than 75% of U.S. customers

BY Drug Store News Team

Seventy-six percent of Americans shopping online this holiday season expect to make most purchases on Amazon, according to CNBC’s “All-America Economic Survey.”

While Walmart comes in second place, the retailer lags far behind its rival. Only 8% of Americans who shop online are visiting the discount giant to search or check prices, according to CNBC.

American online shoppers are also using Amazon as their go-to search engine, with 65% of online shoppers searching on Amazon all or most of the time. This is up sharply each of the last two years, the study reported.

The online giant is also the clear winner when it comes to online conversion or the rate of getting consumers who browse to follow through with a purchase. While the average rate of overall online conversion at around just 3%, Amazon has a whopping 57% of searchers buying on the site always or most of the time, according to the study.

To read more, click here.

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