Rounding Up Retail: 5 Recent Happenings We’re Still Talking About

Photo credit: See-ming Lee on Flickr.

We’ll cut to the chase on this one: it’s our new Rounding Up Retail column, where we pick out some iconic happenings of the last fortnight.

BT plan takeover for EE

The curtain fell recently on Orange Wednesday after over a decade of the 2-4-1 pizza and cinema promotion, when it emerged that customers were losing interest, the deal with Cinema First was costing more, and money would instead be injected into entertainment offers (like the on-demand ‘Film Store’, and discounts for music, comedy and theatre events). BT, the market leader for fixed lines, then dropped a retail bombshell with the revelation that they are in talks about acquiring the company, which currently holds 33.8% of the mobile market.

Barclaycard worked hand in glove with contactless

The bank – who are responsible for the UK’s first ATM and credit card – set another financial first at the unveiling of their contactless gloves, thanks to a survey of 2000 shoppers, who voted ‘gloves you could pay with’ their favourite potentially wearable item. Wearing the prototypes, named the bPay, customers can pay up to £20 per transaction in a single swipe – and, handily, don’t even have to put their bags down.

There’s no business like CEO business for American Apparel and Abercrombie & Fitch

Following on recent revelations that Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, Michael Jeffries, was retiring due to a massive $86m drop in sales, American Apparel have replaced CEO and founder Dov Charney amidst claims of harassment and misconduct. Both are no stranger to scandal – American Apparel’s voyeuristic advertising campaigns, questionable store mannequins, and Charney’s office antics have all hit headlines, while Abercrombie & Fitch refuse to manufacture clothes above size 10, were successfully sued in 2009 by a former employee over disability discrimination, and received widespread criticism when Jeffries cited their target demographic as ‘people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard….cool, good-looking people’.

Consumers don’t look a gift card in the mouth

A survey by the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association revealed that around 57% of consumers are giving friends and families a choice of present this year, with a voucher or gift card – up 8% from last year. The market’s experienced substantial growth this year, with an increase of almost in sales just shy of 10%. The news comes despite a warning that businesses don’t have to honour them if they go bust  – though buying them on a credit card offers some protection.

Big businesses Amazon and Walmart go bad

Walmart – who’ve had all eyes on them thanks to reports of striking in the States – are appealing a Supreme Court battle that ruled they owe $188m to employees for failing to compensate breaks and overtime,  dropping their profits by 4%, while a software glitch at Amazon caused several businesses’ stock to be sold for just a penny (with no plans for reimbursement by the American retail giant).