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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
  • Posted on: 04/27/2017

    Is Trump’s tax plan right for retailers and their customers?

    AM tasks: 1) pour morning beverage 2) ignore NRF rant....As always "good" or bad" depends on the time frame: putting more money into people's pockets is presumably always good for increasing consumer spending in the short run, but don't those tax cuts have to be offset by government spending reductions somewhere else? (And unlike some people, I don't think that every regulation or oversight is bad, so I've outgrown the "spurs growth" fable.)More generally, if you've liked the past 36 years, you'll probably like this (proposal), and if you haven't, you won't.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Will 7-Eleven’s plan to deal with worker shortages in Japan migrate to America?

    I'll make this simple: if I understand this correctly and the ultimate goal is to have fully automated, unmanned stores, then I don't think it will work here. There is simply too much of a problem of shrink and age-restricted items in this category of retail. And if the idea is that clerks will be there to monitor things, just not scan them -- then I don't really see the point.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Will artificial intelligence replace CEOs?

    "...people will have substantially more non-work time on their hands..." yeah, that's the concern all right, but of course not with this positive spin attached to it.Anyway, whatever the future may bring, I pretty sure AI eliminating CEOs won't be something we'll be seeing. Why they'll be more important than ever ... at least that's what we're always told as compensation rises.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Can parking lots save the mall?

    Obviously it depends on the type and frequency of events, and the location of the mall (isolated vs. in a built-up area). It appears I'm more pessimistic than the poll respondents -- whether I'm just gloomy or am envisioning a worst-case scenario they aren't, I don't know -- and can see property owners quickly getting in over their heads as they move into mass-crowd events. Ideally good sense and restrictions, whether they come from government, lenders or property covenants, would screen out ill-conceived ideas, but the headline "desperate malls" gives me pause ... desperate doesn't usually lead to an optimum outcome.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Will omnichannel make the J.C. Penney and Sephora partnership more successful?

    While I'm sure the hope is online shopper's habits will mimic in-store behavior, it should be kept in mind that an online shopper is in a sense "in" every store in the world (or at least every one that has an online presence), so I wouldn't necessarily expect the same synergy to develop. Of course there's no reason NOT to do this, just to temper one's expectations.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Would Albertsons and Whole Foods make a good match?

    What exactly would this offer to anyone, other than, of course, the usual hefty fees to bankers, consultants and insiders who sell off early (often based on glowing reports from these same cliques)?My earlier experience with an Albertsons takeover was that it was one of the worst things than can happen to a store -- short of going out of business altogether -- and while the people involved are different, and so perhaps the experience would be as well, that's hardly an endorsement.Whole Foods problems stem largely from the entry of competitors. It's called, "how a market economy works." I can't see what a buyout would bring to this, other than the usual formulaic responses like cost cutting and brand "rationalization" that might improve things short term, but would certainly worsen them long-term.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    Will IKEA find success in standalone restaurants?

    The "cons" are fairly obvious: it's by no means obvious there is an untapped demand for Swedish -- or more generally "Scandinavian" -- cuisine, and what might well be a viable operation as an addendum to the main store may not be viable as a stand alone operation. Also, I'm not sure how much brand equity people will transfer, not to mention having to appeal to the many people who have no experience with IKEA (hard to believe, maybe, but I'm sure they're out there).The "pro" is equally obvious: IKEA usually does things well, and it has plenty of resources to make it work ... or at least to give the idea it's best chances.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    There's a large segment of the population who will always shop Walmart, a large segment who will never shop there and a segment who may/may not based on various criteria. Certainly, price is one of them and a "price war" certainly could break out where that middle demographic is prominent. I'm thinking suburban area of metros and small cities in the Northeast and Midwest, where (meaningful) competition still exists but the economy is marginal. The shopping cart follows the election results.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    Are Millennials and Gen Z more about convenience or price when they shop?

    Certainly they provide shoppers with more information. One possibility, of course, is that people will fixate on price, since it's readily available and easily measured, and ignore the other types of data available, but ultimately it is up to the shopper how an app is used, and it's the retailer's responsibility to see that its app presents its offering(s) in the most compelling way possible. If they are not the price leader, then they have to stress things like selection, servicing (if applicable), return policies, and for people who are shopping offline, hours ... all the traditional points of differentiation that retailers have always used.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Has CVS crafted a promising new drugstore shopping journey?

    The main requirement of any store layout, IMHO, is the ability to quickly find what you want, which by inference means not changing the layout too drastically ... or too often. This sounds more like tweaking, which is fine, I guess, I'm assuming they have some research to support their moves. But I'm skeptical someone's going to discover some magical design 150 years into modern retailing. Large signage can make things more visible, but also more cluttered; more info can be helpful, or it can be overwhelming.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2017

    Can McD’s succeed with commercials that don’t mention its name?

    It might have some novelty value, but other than that, I find it annoying on several levels (the claim is frivolous, the audience is asked to do something for no particular reason, I'm not sure Ms. Kaling is well known enough to carry the spot).On a broader level, for a company eager to reinvent itself as offering more with regard to both quality and variety, I find an appeal of cheap soda a decided step backward.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2017

    Are consumers’ AI fears rational?

    Ultimately people want what works (that many don't even know exactly what AI is suggests a heavy discounting of their stated preferences). And as long as both are available, I think people will be happy. The problem will be when the threshold is passed and AI (completely) displaces humans. Will that moment ever come, or will individual retailers/providers keep homo sapiens around as a selling point (?)... we'll just have to wait and see.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2017

    Will Amazon pull a Quidsi on Zappos?

    This all seems rather silly. We're speculating about something that some no-name columnist -- sorry Ms. Banjo -- speculated MIGHT make sense (what's next, asking "what if Jeff Bezos decides lack of profits means Amazon should get out of retail"?).Everyone agreed Quidsi was a rounding error, and had little hope of becoming anything else; that's hardly true for Zappos -- one could more easily call them the "anti-Quidsi." So I don't see any relevance.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    Should retail employees have board representation?

    Worker representation (on boards) is common in Europe, but as the saying goes, "we do things differently 'round here." I'm not sure how such a change would be worked out ... indeed, since the board is supposed to be representative of owners rather than "stakeholders," I'm not sure what the legal rationale for it would be.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    Are outlet malls an outlier?

    Immune? Of course not: they simply don't have any (lengthy) history to even suggest such. For one thing, the segment is in the expansion phase, so it's meaningless -- or worse -- to give sales growth figures. Second, since most properties are new, they're drawing the same attention and business away from older facilities that any new project would.The challenges ahead are several. Like saturation. Despite the mantra of "smart growth" and infill development, most of the projects are the epitome of anti-urban. Sprawling, auto-oriented and in remote locations, and could face a backlash if travel costs increase. And people may wise up to the price/quality relationship (sometimes) being offered: t-shirts becoming instant rags have soured me to at least one store.