Industry News & Expert Views

Walmart, Amazon Offer Prescription Discounts to Members

By Sheridan Fifer

Amazon has a very long list of perks associated with Prime membership, but Walmart has a successful membership program of its own, and it refuses to rush, overextend, or make comparisons with its rival as it expands that program. 

The latest perk for members of Walmart+ is called "Walmart+ Rx for less." It allows members to opt for a sizable discount on prescription medications in lieu of going through health insurance. 

Of course, Walmart isn't the only retailer offering such perks.  

A day after Walmart announced the program, Bloomberg reported that Amazon started offering prescriptions for Prime members at the equivalent of $1 per month with a six-month supply.

Read the full story at Retail Dive.

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Academy Sports + Outdoors Sees Record Sales in Q1

By Sheridan Fifer

Academy Sports + Outdoors' president and CEO Ken Hicks cited favorable market trends as factors in his company's record-breaking first quarter. He also acknowledged that favorable market trends require strategy and prior investments if they are to benefit anybody. Academy had both in place. When the pandemic sent consumers home, they looked to the world of sports and outdoor fun to keep them active. Government stimulus checks gave them money to spend on the things that were important to them. And the COVID vaccine is giving many shoppers the confidence to venture into stores once more. Academy rode the resulting wave to a stellar first quarter, and it anticipates more to come. 

The outlook is bright for ASO. It is safer for customers to be outdoors and the sense of adventure lures many to exploring. Summer sports are part of the strength of ASO.

Read the full story at Forbes.

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Major Retailers Will Keep Stores Closed on Thanksgiving

By Sheridan Fifer

When the coronavirus erupted onto the world stage, retailers quickly reversed a trend that had seen Black Friday shopping begin on Thanksgiving day. To keep crowds in limited spaces to a minimum and to push more shoppers toward online deals, major retailers including Target, Walmart, and Best Buy announced that their stores would be closed on Thanksgiving day. And though Thanksgiving 2021 will find a large portion of the U.S. adult population vaccinated against COVID-19, these retailers are sticking with last year's decision. Their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving day for the second year in a row. 

Thanksgiving is still several months away, but retailers are starting to announce holiday plans – and so far they look similar to 2020.

Read the full story at USA TODAY.

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Walmart Inks "Exclusive" Deal with GNC

By Sheridan Fifer

Health and nutrition supplement company GNC is coming to Walmart stores, as well as Walmart.com. The company announced that it had formed an "exclusive" partnership with Walmart to sell its supplements. What that means for its exclusive partnership of two decades with Rite Aid remains to be seen. 

GNC has had an exclusive 20-year partnership with Rite Aid stores that in 2019 was extended through this year. GNC didn't immediately return requests for more information about how its new Walmart tie-up affects that agreement.
Read the full story at Retail Dive.

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Dollar Stores Roll Out Fresh Food Offering Amid Controversy

By Sheridan Fifer

For years, critics have accused dollar store chains of driving out existing competition, discouraging new grocers from opening, and failing to offer the same healthy food assortment that such competitors do. Dollar General and Family Dollar are taking steps to address the controversy, slowly rolling out fresh food offerings in stores. Dollar General says that 1,300 of its stores currently feature a produce department, with such departments coming to 1,000 more stores in 2021. According to the chain, that number could rise to 10,000 stores in the future. As for Family Dollar, the dollar store chain is adding fresh produce and frozen meats to about 100 stores. 

Chains have good reason to introduce perishable food: there's demand for it.

Read the full story at CNN Business.

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Walmart Launches App, Gives 740,000 Associates Free Smartphones

By Sheridan Fifer

Walmart is making an investment in its workforce, handing out free Samsung smartphones to more than 740,000 associates. The retailer seems to want to simplify the onboarding process for its new in-store app for U.S. associates. The move follows an initial test that met with positive feedback and results.

The smartphones come equipped with a personal assistant named Ask Sam, which can help associates find answers and merchandise for inquiring customers, while the app allows Walmart associates to check their schedules and request changes, among other features. 

The offer comes as the retailer is launching Me@Walmart — a new app built by Walmart Global Tech in order to help employees simplify daily tasks, better serve customers and plan for life outside of work.

Read the full story at Fox Business.

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Walmart, Target Announce Prime Day Competitors

By Sheridan Fifer

Walmart and Target have no intention of allowing Amazon's annual Prime Day sales event to pass without comment – or without competition. Walmart has announced the dates of its rival sales event, Deals for Days – June 20th through the 23rd. The retailer promises "Black Friday-like savings" during the event. Meanwhile, Target has named its own Prime Day competitor Deal Days, and it will run from June 20th through the 22nd. Unlike Amazon's Prime Day, Target customers don't need any kind of membership to access the sales and savings. 

If you don't want to give Amazon your money but still want to shop for discounted goods later this month, you've got a couple of other retailers to go to.

Read the full story at Engadget.

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Lululemon Saw Sales Rise 88% in Q1

By Sheridan Fifer

Lululemon is still riding the pandemic wave of athletic apparel sales, as its latest quarterly results showed. Sales in the first quarter grew 88% as shoppers returned to stores and as the retailer saw big growth in its men's apparel category.

Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald sees big things ahead for his company's international business, which, as of the end of 2020, made up only 14% of Lululemon's total business. McDonald thinks that will change, and soon. 

The athletic apparel maker also issued a strong forecast for its fiscal second quarter and raised full-year estimates, saying momentum for its brand is growing across all geographies.

Read the full story at CNBC.

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