A compressed hiring process -- which now takes several hours instead of the normal two weeks -- has helped Walmart add 25,000 more workers to deal with surging demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Many of the newcomers are college students and workers laid off from the idled hospitality and restaurant industries, and Walmart has said its goal is to add 150,000 hourly employees, increasing its total workforce by 10%.
Kroger is piloting a program for a pickup-only store as another way to meet the high demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The store in Mount Carmel, Ohio, near Cincinnati, is closed for in-store shopping and employees are focused on filling online orders for shoppers to pick up, a service that is "ideal for all customers, especially for senior and higher-risk shoppers," said Kroger's Erin Rolfes.
Lululemon Athletica reported a 9% same-store sales increase in the quarter ending Feb. 2, but said business has dropped off in the second week of this month amid the coronavirus outbreak. The workout wear retailer has reopened almost all of its stores in China, and it expects stores in the US and Europe to stay closed until April 5.
Village Super Markets emerged as the winner in the auction for the assets of Fairway Markets, which is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Village will get five Fairway stores and its distribution center in Harlem, while Amazon secured leases for two stores in New Jersey -- which the company says it will not operate right away -- and Seven Seas Georgetowne came away with a store in Brooklyn, which it plans to continue operating.
Crocs will send a free pair of clogs to up to 10,000 health care workers per day who go online to request them, and plans to donate 100,000 pairs to health institutions. Allbirds launched a similar offer last week, donating 5,000 of its signature Wool Runners in four days.
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Sports apparel company Fanatics is now producing masks and gowns instead of baseball jerseys at its 360,000-square-foot factory in Easton, Pa. The company is one of a growing number of clothing companies and fashion houses turning their talents to making or sourcing protective gear for health care workers during the pandemic.
Fast-fashion retailers including Marks & Spencer and Primark are among the Western retailers that are canceling orders from Asian factories as their stores remain closed during the pandemic. "[O]ur long-term commitment to suppliers will remain intact, but in this extreme situation we need to respond fast," H&M spokeswoman Ulrika Isaksson said.
New shelter-in-place rules in Dallas have created confusion for e-commerce companies and retailers continuing to sell online and fulfill orders. Consumers have continued to shop online as the coronavirus pandemic has spread and people have avoided stores, and now it's not clear whether fulfilling online orders of nonessential goods is allowed.
In addition to providing funds for small-business loans and beefing up unemployment compensation for laid-off workers, the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill also includes a fix for the so-called "retail glitch" created by the 2017 federal tax overhaul. NRF Tax Counsel Rachelle Bernstein says retailers will be able to get back what they overpaid because of the error and see a quick cash infusion that will help with liquidity during the pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed by Congress offers relief to retailers through loans and tax measures intended to help small and large companies alike stay in business and keep workers on the payroll. The measure could be signed by President Trump tonight. Read more.
Online retailers are utilizing artificial intelligence to forecast demand and better serve customers, but AI may have benefits for brick-and-mortar stores as well. Geolocation and "inner-aisle marketing" may allow retailers to further personalize shopping. Read more.
Texas Roadhouse founder and CEO Kent Taylor will forego his salary and bonus until Jan. 7, 2021, to free up money to help the chain's hourly employees during the pandemic, the company reported in a regulatory filing. The Louisville, Ky.-based chain operates about 500 US locations.