PROFILE

Roy White

Editor-at-large, RetailWire

Roy White has covered the mass market retailing scene for several decades, initially as the editor of Drug Store News and then with Perspectives Group, Inc. He was also vice president of education for the Global Market Development Center for nine years.

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  • Posted on: 01/28/2016

    Walgreens is not ready to kick its cigarette habit

    Cigarette sales are inconsistent with a pharmacy for the simple reason that a proven highly health damaging product should not be sold at all, much less in a venue that is dedicated to health, and a preponderant proportion of a Walgreens drug store's volume is in prescriptions and OTC health products. This should, and did at Walgreens' rival CVS, override the duty to increase shareholder value. Even from a business point of view, the setback sustained by dropping cigarettes should certainly be easily containable by a drug store corporation whose annual sales are over $100 billion. It was at CVS. Moreover, Walgreens has been through this before. The chain was once many years ago the largest liquor retailer in Chicago. It dropped those units and the chain is still around. It should repeat that move with cigarettes.

  • Posted on: 01/15/2016

    Sears Holdings not looking to make a fuss over store closings

    Whatever they may or may not be doing, it's all over but the shouting. Sears/Kmart are going the way of A&P, and two more old and once revered banners will disappear into the ether.

  • Posted on: 01/12/2016

    Should Kohl’s go private and Macy’s sell its real estate?

    Relative to Macy's, looking to real estate for survival would seem to be a highly negative move and perhaps the first step towards ultimate doom. If you are going to be a retailer then the focus should be on doing that right, not seeking salvation in another type of business. It's only a distraction. That it comes from a hedge fund likely makes the move even more suspect. In contrast going private, as is proposed by Kohl's, doesn't alter focus and may even sharpen the focus.

  • Posted on: 12/14/2015

    Will dollar stores keep gobbling grocery share?

    Now that the merger trauma is over and done with, dollar stores are growing very rapidly, although not always profitably. Food is just another opportunity for them, and they are going to take full advantage of it in terms of pricing, offering food products to lower income demographics that shop their stores, and taking share away from conventional supermarkets which are viewed by many as high priced and not necessarily that conveniently located.

  • Posted on: 11/19/2015

    Will store brands outcompete national rivals in fresh categories?

    There are really no limits on private label any more. The Great Recession consolidated store brands as a major force in mass-market retailing, and the expansion of private label into new areas is going to continue, likely unabated. With store brands now freed of the fetters of national brand leadership, retailers are becoming more and more innovative and aggressive in developing products, and private label manufacturers have taken up the challenge and are providing new ideas, new items and new technology for their retail partners. Every category in the store is now open to intense and extensive store-brand marketing.

  • Posted on: 11/06/2015

    Will Santa bring shoppers to Walmart this Christmas?

    Santas are a nice idea, and will stimulate some traffic very likely. However, Walmart has been challenged to develop total sales and comp store sales for some time. Shoppers may no longer be so strongly committed to one-stop shopping (data indicates that multiple channel shopping is on the upswing) and no so eager to trek through a large footprint. And this is a real challenge given that Walmart is the ultimate large-footprint operator in the world, and has build a corporate culture that doesn't necessarily know any other way. Boosting sales will depend on successful development of their online sales and innovation in store design.

  • Posted on: 11/03/2015

    Will ‘Bluelight Specials’ bring customers back to Kmart?

    Bluelight Specials are not going to make a difference, if only because no one remembers when they were effective, appealing promotions many years ago. Kmart has likely reached the point of unavoidable failure just as Fresh & Easy and A&P did. Sales at Kmart are down and have been declining. Comp store sales are down and have been declining. Losses are being reported. Seventy-five stores were shuttered in the first half; none opened. Kmart is now about a $12 billion annually in sales company. Walmart sales are over $480 billion annually and Target's are $73 billion.

  • Posted on: 10/22/2015

    Fresh & Easy calls it quits

    This is a glaring case of unavoidable failure. Fresh & Easy was an interesting idea inexpertly carried out and now the price has been paid. Done professionally it might have worked, but it wasn't and there wasn't anything Yucaipa could do about it.

  • Posted on: 10/22/2015

    ‘Made in U.S.A’ labels out on Walmart.com

    Given the stream of negative news over the last several years, not least Walmart's employment practices, this new development may be damaging. In fact, all the more so from the point of view of the difficulties the chain is having in developing sales and traffic.

  • Posted on: 10/06/2015

    Will Sam’s new plan lead to sustainable growth?

    Sam's Club has three major competitors, grocery stores that have learned to discount and sell in bulk effectively, Costco, and Walmart. Supermarkets, once panicked by warehouse clubs, are now sharing in that market without the membership fee. Costco has altered its style to attract a more affluent customer by adding some premium products and items to which such clientele would respond such as organic products. Costco has opened in areas that access a wealthier customer base. The result has been a 7% comp store increase in its recent fiscal year. Comp store increases at Sam's have been nowhere near that. Sam's essentially addresses the same customer as Walmart, and something like a third of Sam's Club units share a shopping center location with its sister chain.

    Sam's needs to differentiate itself from its parent by doing exactly what its being outlined, but also by adding premium products to tap the affluent market that is becoming much more important in the warehouse club world, and by traveling in its own direction.

  • Posted on: 10/01/2015

    Will surge pricing become the new normal?

    It doesn't matter if surge pricing can be defined as a free market strategy or gouging. If the customers think it's gouging they will walk, and that's the end of the business, maybe even for an out-of-control taxi company. In retailing and food service everyone has options, and surge pricing, which looks to me like it could easily become excessive ($50-100 extra for a table?), may drive customers to those options. Only if a restaurant or retailer has inelastic demand does this seem to be a good option.

  • Posted on: 09/23/2015

    Is Target crazy to swap granola bars for candy at its checkouts?

    Ultimately, the only way this will work is to first of all make the front end its own department, and then plan out how healthier products can be rationally integrated into the current check-out mix. Otherwise it will be health products invading a long-established front-end paradigm.

    In addition, the health and wellness initiative needs to be a carefully coordinated store-wide program with many different departments contributing to it. When CVS (who is now Target's pharmacy operator) dropped tobacco, it already had the mantra of a prescription and health-oriented drug store, and so the initiative worked beautifully. Target does not have that health-oriented mantra since it is a general merchandise retailer with a very broad array of products in a large store.

    Target may not be crazy doing this, but it has to be more than just a single, isolated program. It will only be sane if it is part of a whole, major program.

  • Posted on: 09/22/2015

    Utah’s high court says workers have the right to protect themselves

    Walmart's rule should stand. It is correct. It is not the role of store associates, even those in security, to assume the role of police officers. If the shoplifter was on the way out, then let him go rather than endanger the staff or other customers. There are too many "ifs" and too much that can go wrong by being proactive in a crime situation, unless the situation is so dire that requires immediate action on the part of the bystander. The situation faced by the Walmart associates would have been different had the shoplifter been threatening or refusing to leave.

  • Posted on: 09/22/2015

    Former peanut company CEO gets virtual life sentence in salmonella case

    He killed a number of people. He damaged the public's trust in the American food distribution system. With malice aforethought, he went around the system to get the rating he wanted even though he knew it was false. The sentence of 28 years might not be enough.

  • Posted on: 09/10/2015

    Are stores missing impulse sales opportunities at the self-checkout?

    One reason is that at many supermarket operations the front-end is not regarded or managed as a separate department. If it were, opportunities such as the one in this discussion article would be taken advantage of. The front-end is a different space with a different dynamic from in-line departments or perimeter departments. It should managed as a separate entity by the retailers as opposed to the current set of front-end suppliers.

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