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November 08, 2015

Christmas merchandising: how to reap the bonanza without getting burned

Christmas merchandising: how to reap the bonanza without getting burned

Christmas merchandising: how to reap the bonanza without getting burned

Traditional Christmas Dishes can be broken down into five main categories: greeting cards,gift wrap, trim-a-tree, Christmas lights and toys. To take advantage of the sales opportunities these categories offer, well-planned merchandise selection is necessary, along with the right timing and pricing.

Supermarkets can also take advantage of the hype created by overall media advertising to gain additional impulse sales by using good point-of-purchase display techniques for seasonal merchandise.

Greeting cards should be promoted early in the 2015 Christmas Gifts to Find the Perfect Gift, Every Time timetable. Keep in mind that greeting card merchandising has changed dramatically over the years. Gone are the shoppers’ extensive Christmas card mailing lists and, as a result, volume sales of inexpensive cards. Better-quality cards are now the top sellers.

Most supermarkets are supplied on an everyday basis by one of the major greeting card companies. These companies provide excellent special displays and merchandising assistance for cards and other seasonal accessory items. Holiday cards have become a very profitable “no brainer” for supermarkets because of the assistance and expertise provided by companies such as Ambassador, American Greetings, and Gibson.

Gift wrap contributes even more sales and profits than Christmas cards. However, this is a category that can be hot or cold, depending upon the merchandising expertise and energy devoted to it.

Greeting card companies do supply a portion of the Christmas gift wrap requirements, but mostly in the higher-priced lines. Medium and low-end gift wrap can provide tremendous volume to supermarkets when aggressively priced and displayed.

In traditional gift wrap, the emphasis today is on multiple packs. The large-core rolls also represent substantial volume. Decorated, folded boxes have been a strong and growing item.

Gift bags popular

But the new fad in gift packaging is decorated bags, which have taken the market by storm. Most stores were completely sold out of these bags long before Christmas last year. The ability to drop the gift in the bag and go, without cutting, wrapping, taping and tying ribbons, seems to be a method that is suited to today’s life-style.

The trim-a-tree category also represents opportunities for extra sales of Christmas merchandise. This category can be broken down into two main areas: traditional trim-a-tree merchandise and decorative accessories.

Each store’s demographics need to be taken into consideration in merchandising traditional trim-a-tree items. Tinsel and garlands are basic good sellers every year. Icicles, while being a good steady item, have not been the same since lead icicles were banned. Glass tree ornaments are only a fair seller and are usually eliminated in the smaller departments.

The emphasis in tree trims is on the novelty trims. The decorative accessory area, which includes artificial flowers, centerpieces, novelty candles and glassware, is a stronger selling category.

Christmas lights have been showing a strong resurgence, finally recovering from the disastrous Carter era–disastrous from the standpoint that outdoor decorative lighting was virtually banned due to the energy crunch. The industry has taken some time to recover, but last year was a boom year for Christmas lights. And this year promises to be as strong as ever.

Clear and colored miniature lights, which are energy efficient, represent the biggest percentage of the business. Sales of the C-9 outdoor lights have been losing ground due to use of miniature lights for outdoor decorating. The trend is toward longer sets of miniature lights, with the 20- and 35- light sets giving way to 50- and 100-bulb strings.

While there are many unbranded import lights available, the lion’s share of the business seems to be retained by the brand name lines. There is also a strong trend toward other lighted decorations. This strong resurgence of the lighting category is welcomed by all since it creates a more positive environment for the Christmas season.

Extended toy sections

Toys represent the biggest opportunity for sales and profits during the Christmas selling season. Most supermarkets carry a peg toy selection on a year-round basis, with additional space for children’s books, games, boxed toys, and promotional items.

However, this will not be adequate to realize the potential available from toys. Retailers that provide additional promotional space for toys, with new merchandise and increased variety, will realize more of the potential.

Extended toy sections can be divided into two groups. One is basic toys; the other is television-advertised, fad and licensed toys.

The profits are in basic toys. These are the more traditional items such as boys’ and girls’ activity toys, card games, cars and trucks, construction toys and sets, craft items, basic dolls, educational games and toys, board games, infants’ toys, models, basic plush, and puzzles.

The list could go on and on, but any basic toy packaged in a way that is suitable for self-service could be included. These particular toys are not specifically Christmas toys. They are carried on a year-round basis by other retail outlets. But in supermarkets, they are merchandised on a seasonal basis only at Christmas time.

The best-selling, basic profit-making toys retail for under $10. It is important to have a selection for both boys and girls. The emphasis should be on toys for the younger groups.

Unfortunately for supermarkets, many of the consumer dollars spent for toys for older children, particularly in the boys’ category, are siphoned off by Nintendo games and other high-tech toys andvideo games. Supermarkets have a difficult time competing in that area, and are usually better off concentrating in other areas.

Then there are the TV-advertised toys, higher-priced licensed toys and other fad toys that represent substantial consumer dollar purchases during the pre-Christmas season. These items are very difficult to merchandise successfully and profitably. It takes a knowledgeable toy merchandiser to stay abreast of market trends and supplier performance.

Fad toys a risk

I always take a very positive approach to merchandising any GM line through supermarkets, but TV-advertised toys are an exception.

At Toy Fair time, the major TV toy suppliers have grand plans for their TV commercials’ effectiveness, buyer acceptance and advertising expenditures … but things may or may not happen according to plan.

Since almost all TV toys are import items, early orders will be necessary in order to get the “early buy” discounts and be assured of timely deliveries. Many items will be successful. But many others will not.

The full-line toy merchandiser may come out okay because of the broad selection. For a supermarket operator who has a limited selection, however, I advise against going into the TV-advertised, fad-toy business. If the wrong items are picked, the result is high-priced toys with no demand. If the right items are picked, the result is high-priced toys with high demand that competitors are selling below cost. It is a “lose-lose” situation.

If a retailer’s demographics are such that competitive pressure is less acute, and there is a need to stock an extended variety of TV-advertised toys to be a complete one-stop shopping center, then it should be done. The higher-priced toys will need to be priced with lower profit percentages in order to be reasonably competitive. But while the percentage may be lower, the dollar sales per unit will still represent a very profitable transaction.

The addition of the higher-priced toys will also add to the overall department appeal, making a better statement in helping to increase total Christmas merchandise sales.

The last quarter of the year is, of course, the prime time for merchandising Christmas products and toys. The merchandising of these seasonal items is for extra sales and profits. This last quarter of the year also represents great sales opportunities for other general merchandise. Basic housewares, appliances, domestics and softwear all have peak sales during this same period.

It is vitally important for the supermarket operator to adequately staff his departments and to anticipate increased sales. The sale of Christmas merchandise and toys should be all “plus” business. If concentration on the Christmas and toy seasonal merchandise causes out-of-stocks and lost sales in the basic categories, then these new sales are not all “plus” sales as they should be.

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October 09, 2015

Softball: Sterling holds of D.G. South

Softball: Sterling holds of D.G. South

Softball: Sterling holds of D.G. South

On a day when softballs were flying all over the yard, a simple communication error was as big a play as any in Saturday’s nonconference matchup between visiting Downers Grove South and Sterling. The Mustangs had that lapse, and it cost them dearly in an 11-10 loss to the Golden Warriors. Sterling used the best softball bats 2016 at www.softballbatsunlimited.com named 2015 Louisville Slugger Vapor, while D.G.South use the bat from Miken. The battle begins.

The teams combined for 23 hits, but it was one that was taken off the board that proved to be crucial. South was down 9-5 entering the fifth inning, but a 3-run homer from Caitlyn Daly, the first batter faced by Sterling reliever Priscilla Aponte, narrowed the gap to 9-8. Aponte hit the next batter, Crystal Loehman, and South manager Ron Havelka sent up a pinch-hitter, Kaley Smith, to bat. Smith rapped a single up the middle to apparently put runners at first and second — then the fun began.

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September 17, 2015

Travel to, from Canada declines: StatsCan

Travel to, from Canada declines: StatsCan

Travel to, from Canada declines: StatsCan

Travel to and from Canada in November decreased when compared to October, according to figures released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday.

About 2.25 million trips were made to Canada in November, according to the figures, a 0.9 per cent decline from October.

Visitors coming into Canada from the United States also declined by 0.7 per cent when compared to October. About 1.87 million travellers entered Canada from the United States in November. About 1.88 million were recorded as entering the country in October.

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September 16, 2015

Air Canada Corporate Rewards helps any-size business better manage travel

Air Canada Corporate Rewards helps any-size business better manage travel

Air Canada Corporate Rewards helps any-size business better manage travel

Air Canada has launched a new program called AirCanada Corporate Rewards that offers useful online tools to help businesses of all sizes better manage their travel, reduce costs and earn rewards to enhance travel.

‘The Air Canada Corporate Rewards program will make it simpler for companies of any size to track their travel investment, obtain savings and also earn rewards for flying with Air Canada. Members will be eligible to receive offers for discounts on Air Canada flights and services along with rewards such as complimentary eUpgrades, Maple Leaf Lounge access, advance seat selection and other exclusive special offers,’ said Robert Trudeau, Director of Business Development at Air Canada. ‘Recently, Air Canada was ranked the preferred carrier of 81 per cent of frequent business travellers surveyed in the annual Ipsos Reid Business Traveller Survey. This program, along with other attributes, such as our expansive global network, Executive Class service, Maple Leaf Lounges and Aeroplan and Altitude loyalty programs, should further boost Air Canada’s leading position as the carrier of choice among Canadian business travellers.’

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September 15, 2015

Easton Fastpitch Softball Bats 2016 – Stealth Clarity & Synergy

Easton Fastpitch Softball Bats

Easton Fastpitch Softball Bats

Before 1969 bat manufacturing was a pretty straight forward affair. That all changed when Easton released the first aluminum bat, a radical change in technology that launched the little known company into the limelight. Since then Easton has continued to innovate, with each item in their complete line of fastpitch softball bats, gloves and bags reflecting the careful consideration they give to functionality and technology. Their exclusive, patented technologies such as Carbon Nanotube (CNT), Vibration Reduction System (VRS) and Visual Composite Technology (VCT or Clarity), just to name a few; raise the bar in both functionality of a fastpitch softball bat and integrity of the game. Here are the best fastpitch softball bats 2016 from Easton Corporations.

The Easton Clarity models, in particular, bring to the game a new era of bat integrity and performance. It’s well known that once these composite bats are fully broken in they become more flexible and give more pop when hit. Although this is great for the individual user, it provides an unfair advantage in competition and is not allowed in league play. To counteract this, the various governing boards have set guidelines for bat usage; but until Clarity, there was no way to tell when a bat has been used beyond its legal limit. Clarity is an ultra-thin see through layer that encases the surface of the bat. This layer will start to develop tiny white cracks along the surface as the composite material starts to break down. By the time the bat is beyond legal usage it will be completely white, making it easier for Umps to determine the eligibility of the bat, thereby effectively maintaining the integrity of the ball game. (more…)

September 15, 2015

Summer travel website offers contests, games and helpful family travel tips

Summer travel website offers contests, games and helpful family travel tips

Summer travel website offers contests, games and helpful family travel tips

Days Inns – Canada is sponsoring a new summer travel-themed website, “Summer Road Trip Survival Guide,” featuring contests, a game and helpful travel tips for families across Canada.

By visiting the site between now and August 31, 2009, guests can enter the online summer road triptravel contest to win a grand prize of a 7-night stay at any Days Inn in Canada and a $500 Wyndham Rewards gift card. There are also 12 weekly prizes of a 1-night stay at any Days Inn in Canada and a $25 Wyndham Rewards gift card so guests can continue to win all summer long.

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August 26, 2015

PREMIER LEAGUE A TO Z – Gary Neville

Manchester-United-v-Liverpool-Barclays-U21-Premier-League

Next in our Barclays Premier League A to Z we look at one of the most decorated players in English football history, Gary Neville.

Neville joined his boyhood club Manchester United as an apprentice upon leaving school and was captain of the famed ‘Class of 92’ youth side. (more…)

July 30, 2015

The Recknor repeats as Softball Player of the Year

The Recknor repeats as Softball Player of the Year

The Recknor repeats as Softball Player of the Year

1/3 Angie Recknor is making a second impression with new slowpitch softball bats 2015. She is relaxed as she sits and talks at the kitchen table of her parents’ Minnetonka home, quick to smile and laugh. This is not the Hopkins lefthanded pitcher most opposing batters have come to know. The truth is that, The Recknor spend a lot of time and money to receive the best slowpitch softball bats 2016 , the Miken SYCHMA-3-27 Psycho Maxload ASA 100 Comp Slowpitch Bat.

That first impression is an intimidating glare, followed by a loud thwack into the catcher’s glove. Most batters get their first decent look at the softball on Royals catcher Andrea Smith’s toss back to the pitcher. They wouldn’t recognize this Recknor, the first two-time selection as the Star Tribune’s MetroSoftball Player of the Year.

“I’m very competitive,” Recknor said, “but I’m different away from the game. I can’t stay serious for more than three or four minutes without going off the wall.”

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July 21, 2015

Thailand’s Ultimate Travel Competition Coming to a Close

Applications for the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Ultimate Travel Competition Coming to a Close

Applications for the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Ultimate Travel Competition Coming to a Close

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) welcomes applications from adventurous and energetic couples worldwide, to participate in “The Ultimate Thailand Explorers” social networking competition, but the deadline is quickly approaching. Due to the current economic climate, many couples are already taking advantage of the possibility of participating in this travel competition in Thailand and winning the extravagant prizes.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) October 8, 2009 — The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) welcomes applications from adventurous and energetic couples worldwide, to participate in “The Ultimate ThailandExplorers” social networking competition, but the deadline is quickly approaching. The ultimate travelcompetition’s winning couple will receive a cash prize of $10,000 USD, a holiday package valued at $3,000 USD, round trip airfare from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, two Blackberry Flip Pearl phones, and a voucher for two spa treatments at Oasis Spa in Bangkok and Chiida Spa in Chiang Mai. Due to the current economic climate, many couples are already taking advantage of the possibility of participating in this travel competition in Thailand and winning the extravagant prizes.

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July 10, 2015

Canada: the number one supplier of Cuban tourists

Cuban tourists

Cuban tourists

Regardless of what the U.S. chains decide, Canadians are likely to continue flocking to Cuba. Canada was the number one supplier of Cuban tourists last year, accounting for 120,000 of the Caribbean island country’s 700,000 visitors. Many of those people, or their friends and relatives, are likely to return next winter. And if they are denied the right to book with one travel agency, they are likely to spend their money with another one down the street.

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July 10, 2015

Business Travel U.S. bill on Cuba threatens Canadians’ travel

Business Travel U.S

Business Travel U.S

THIS column has more to do with vacation trips than business travel. But most laptop luggers also take holidays and two of the biggest players in this drama are giants of both business and leisure travel. So here goes.

The right to travel, one of the basic rights that Canadians take for granted, is under threat from U.S. legislation.

Two of the largest travel agency chains in Canada — American Express and Carlson Wagonlit Travel — are American-owned. Normally that shouldn’t be a problem.

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July 10, 2015

Business class routine in Canada offered south of the border

Business class routine in Canada

Business class routine in Canada

In the new competitive marketplace, domestic flights have become spokes feeding worldwide networks. Many business travellers flying into Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or Dallas from an overseas city may well continue with the same airline to another U.S. city. Forcing those passengers to switch to a lower level of service, no longer makes economic sense.

On top of that, airline research indicates a demand for business class service on certain routes from passengers travelling strictly within the United States, particularly between New York and Los Angeles. Carriers say they will monitor reaction before deciding whether to extend the three- class offering.

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July 10, 2015

Business travel U.S. airlines begin class competition service debut

Business travel U.S. airlines

Business travel U.S. airlines

BY DOUGLAS McARTHUR SOMETHING Canadian business travellers have come to take for granted – a business class cabin on key domestic air routes – is only now being introduced in the United States.

Delta Air Lines started the trend late last year by putting planes on its New York to Los Angeles routes that were configured to offer business class in addition to first and coach (economy) class. This month, United entered the competition by introducing three classes on about 100 weekly flights linking six airports – Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Newark and New York JFK. For both airlines, the flights are continuations of international services, using the same planes that fly to and from foreign destinations.

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July 07, 2015

The queen of ASA travel softball: Moore Wilson

women softball bats, softball league, softball team

The queen of ASA travel softball: Moore Wilson

When he first contacted former league president Bill Conroy to express interest in owning a team, the plan was for the Glory to debut in 2008. But circumstances changed when the Connecticut Brakettes chose to focus on ASA travel softball after reaching the NPF championship game last summer.

So as he prepared for a three-week family vacation to the Caribbean, Wilson attended the league’s winter meetings in December and eventually agreed in mid-January to transform the Brakettes into a Washington expansion team.

“Five of us came from the Brakettes and we had no idea what was going on when we found out our team folded. We were pretty much just waiting and once I heard from Paul and heard what he had in store and what he wanted to offer us I said yes,” Pauly said. “I didn’t need any more explanations because I knew he wanted to make this team big.”

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July 06, 2015

Roundup Baseball: Royals and Volume Services Inc. Culver

The National League's Chicago Cubs

The National League’s Chicago Cubs

In the lawsuit filed last month, Gary Culver is seeking $150,000 from the Royals and Volume Services Inc. Culver said his spine and right hand were injured in the attack. . . . Edmund Browalski, a baseball writer for the Polish Daily News and an official scorer for Detroit Tigers’ American League games, died Thursday of a heart attack. He was 66. Browalski was chairman and executive secretary of the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He founded the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame in Orchard Lake, Mich., and was a member of the Michigan Bowling Hall of Fame. A catcher in the Class C Dixie League in 1935-36, he had covered the Tigers for the Polish Daily News since 1951. . . . Houston Astros’ starting pitcher Bob Knepper underwent arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday and can begin a rehabilitation program in two to three days, said a spokesman for the National League club. (more…)

July 06, 2015

THE TALK OF CHICAGO: BEARS MAY GIVE CITY SWEET REVENGE

baseball-1Chicago likes to think of itself as the city that works, one way or the other. But in recent years, what with political wars, racial politics and strikes, more things seemed not to. Then last year this city of three million people lost its Second City ranking to Los Angeles. And the Chicago Cubs, on the brink of departing from the cherished local baseball tradition of losing, reverted to form at the last minute, at the hands of a team from another sunny southern California city with a Spanish name.

But now, 22 years after a tough- talking, hard-hitting, fist-swinging tight end named Mike Ditka helped the Chicago Bears crunch the hated New York Giants, 14-10, for the National Football League championship, that same tough-talking, hard- hitting, clipboard-throwing coach is leading the same Bears into the final National Conference playoff game before the Super Bowl.

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July 05, 2015

First season of Keohohou in the Women’s Softball League

Pic-26-1After talking with Wilson for the first time on the phone, Keohohou solicited a trade from the Racers, where she’d won a championship in 2005.

“It was the right timing for me to be able to do that. When I first talked to Paul before it was official I was coming to the Glory, within the first five minutes of talking to him I was sold,” she said. “He’s very easy to trust. I like what he’s about and I want to be a part of it.”

So much so that Keohohou plans to move from Newbury Park, CA to become an instructor at the Glory’s indoor softball facility.

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July 03, 2015

The introduction of Women’s Pro Fastpitch softball league

07/18/2010 - Jennie Finch - 2010 National Pro Fastpitch Women's Softball - Chicago Bandits at Tennessee Diamonds - July 18, 2010 - Draper Stadium  - Nashville, TN, USA - Keywords: SOFTBALL, USA OLYMPICS, BLONDE HAIR, BROWN HAIR, COUNTRY MUSIC Orientation: Landscape -  - Photo Credit: Daniel bingamon / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827) - Landscape

As she sat on a bucket inside the Glory dugout following a recent victory, Moore looked into the beaming face of a travel player and remembered what softball meant to her at that age.

Before she grew up to become Liberty University’s career leader in batting average (.419), runs (191), hits (229) and home runs (58), she was a youth league star who once sought autographs following Virginia Roadsters’ games.

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