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Tiffany Hsu
Los Angeles Times|latimes.com

Nordstrom is famously forgiving when shoppers change their minds about purchases.

Customers love it — especially those whose motives may be questionable. The Seattle retailer has been known to take back well-worn clothing, shoes bought years earlier and jars of half-used moisturizer.

When Elana Pruitt was a Nordstrom sales employee years ago, she recalled, shoppers would make purchases with gift cards and then quickly return the items for cash. Technically it’s allowed, said Pruitt, 33, now a social media coordinator and fashion blogger in Eagle Rock. But she considers it “a bit tacky.”

“We had a lot of really great, loyal customers,” Pruitt said, “but because the store was so generous with its policies, it was totally taken advantage of.” read more »

 

WASHINGTON — CVS Caremark, the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain, plans to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 retail stores by Oct. 1, a landmark decision that would make it the first national pharmacy company to cease tobacco sales.

The move, which the company announced Feb. 5, comes after years of pressure from public health advocates and medical providers, who have urged retailers to make tobacco products and advertising less available, particularly to children and teenagers.

It also marks a major turn for one of the country’s biggest healthcare companies, which said it is giving up about $2 billion in annual sales, or about 1.6 percent of the company’s 2012 revenues. read more »

 

Starbucks Corp. Chief Executive Howard Schultz is passing off day-to-day duties at the world’s largest coffee chain to his chief financial officer.

Schultz will focus on blending the company’s bricks-and-mortar, e-commerce, digital, card and mobile businesses — what he called “next generation retailing” in a statement Jan. 29.

He will also direct his energy toward advancing the Seattle business’ loyalty program and beverage innovation.

As he tries to pin down the company’s broad-strokes strategy, CFO Troy Alstead will take over the daily grind. Alstead, who has been with Starbucks for 22 years, will be promoted to the newly created position of chief operating officer. read more »

 

Retail sales in holiday-related categories such as apparel, electronics and jewelry rose a “decent” 2.3 percent, according to a report Dec. 26 from MasterCard SpendingPulse.

The so-so upswing from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 improved on the comparable period in 2012 and was in line with expectations, researchers said.

Overall sales from all categories rose 3.5 percent.

The growth remained modest due to six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and stormy weather during the final two weekends of the season — normally key consumption time for last-minute shoppers. read more »

 

Starbucks wants the country’s defenders to return from the front lines on its payroll, pledging to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years.

In an initiative organized in part by Starbucks board member and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Seattle coffee giant said it hopes to tap the unique communication, leadership and problem-solving skills developed by veterans and their families.

“This is not a charity initiative,” said Starbucks Chief Community Officer Blair Taylor in an interview this week. “This is an endeavor predicated on us genuinely needing the skills veterans offer.”

The hiring effort, which would affect Starbucks’ U.S. stores, is also a reaction to the “exorbitantly high unemployment rate that military families and veterans face,” Taylor said. read more »

 

Holiday hiring by retailers is fast approaching a record set 12 years ago, according to a new analysis of government numbers.

So far, retailers have added 619,700 seasonal workers in October and November, 19 percent more than the 512,600 holiday employees hired over the same period last year, according to consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

If businesses bring on just 140,300 more workers in December, they’ll match the nearly 760,000 employees tacked on to payrolls during the three-month holiday hiring season in 2000 - a record high.

Doing so isn’t a stretch. Last year, retailers hired 147,600 workers in December, bringing the three-month total to 660,200 seasonal employees. read more »

 

Target and other brick-and-mortar retailers are treating this holiday season as an offensive against online rivals such as Amazon.com, using tactics such as price-matching to win back dominance of the Christmas shopping season.

Tired of being used as showrooms by customers testing products in person before buying them online for less, Target and Best Buy have both pledged to offer the same prices in stores as major Internet shops.

Last week, Target said its debut price-matching program would run between Nov. 1 and Dec. 16, with prices on in-store items meeting the same prices offered online at Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Toys R Us. read more »

 
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