1-800-Flowers Has Watson-Powered Robo-Concierge To Help You Choose Gifts

1-800-Flowers Has Watson-Powered Robo-Concierge To Help You Choose Gifts

Do you need help selecting just the right gift for your loved ones, but don’t want to ask an actual human being for that help? 1-800-Flowers, a florist chain named after the dominant way to order things 30 years ago, now has a robo-concierge powered by IBM’s Watson platform that will tell you what someone really wants as a gift. [More]


Report: Aéropostale Will File For Bankruptcy Protection This Week

The Aeropostale Bankruptcy Watch may be over. After initial reports two weeks ago that the company was considering a filing in the coming month, now experts speculate that the troubled teen retailer could file later this week. Timing is key: with 800 stores, the company would need to file before its rent for May is due. [More]

Ben Schumin

Walmart Ditching Wild Oats Organic Brand After 2 Years

Two years ago, Walmart announced that it would sell inexpensive organic food to a mass market under the Wild Oats brand, at lower prices than national brands of certified organic products. After just about 2 years, Walmart is ending its Wild Oats experiment, deciding instead to begin selling organic items under its own house brand, Great Value, and also sell more fresh produce. [More]

Minda Haas Kuhlmann

Yeah, You’re Going To Have To Pay For Your Kid’s Promposal, Too

We have either good or bad news for high school students and for their parents: promposals, or elaborate staged events where one teen asks another to the prom, aren’t going away, and have become as much an essential part of the prom-going experience as cummberbunds and corsages. Seeing how popular they are with teens, companies that sell or rent prom clothes have started marketing guides, promoting their brands but also reinforcing elaborate promposals as the norm. [More]

Raiders Of The Lost Walmart Find Ancient iPod Case, Rare Full-Price MobiBLU

Raiders Of The Lost Walmart Find Ancient iPod Case, Rare Full-Price MobiBLU

It was almost three years ago that one of the Raiders of the Lost Walmart excavated their first MobiBLU, a mini MP3 player that was the hottest entertainment technology available from Walmart in 2005. Somehow, the devices are still on the shelves at Walmart, sometimes at the original full price, never drawing any interest from paying customers: only from the camera lenses of our brave retail archaeologists. [More]


GameStop’s New Venture: GameTrust, A Game Publisher

Realizing that the business of selling consoles and physical copies of new and used games in malls won’t last forever, GameStop has been working to diversify its business, acquiring related businesses ranging from third-party Apple store chain Simply Mac to pop culture purveyor ThinkGeek. The company is now starting a new venture even more closely related to its core business: GameTrust, which will publish games from outside developers, and distribute them to its customers. [More]

Mike Mozart

GameStop Is Not Going To Change Its Name Anytime Soon

GameStop’s executives predict that three years from now, at least half of the company’s revenues will come from things that aren’t games. Should they think about changing their name, then? Nah, CEO Paul Raines said in an interview this week: they could change their name in the future, but for now games are still what they’re about. Like most things in life, though, that could change in the future. [More]

Sugar Creek Candle Company

Candle Company Creates Hills Snack Bar Scent, Entire Mid-Atlantic Freaks Out

If you lived in parts of the Mid-Atlantic, South, or Midwest in the ’80s or ’90s, you were probably familiar with the discount department store chain Hills. (If you aren’t from that area, when you read this story, substitute your favorite now-defunct local or regional department or discount store for Hills.) This week, a local YouTube channel and a candle company teamed up to create a scented candle, and created a frenzy. [More]

Site vs. reality, reflected in actual orders placed by CBS DFW reporter Cristin Severance  (photo: CBS DFW)

Facebook Will Maybe Start Doing Something About Ads For Shady Clothing Sites

You may have seen ads on Facebook or elsewhere online for what look like decent quality and trendy clothes at rock-bottom prices. They have some satisfied customers, but many of these sites offer ill-fitting clothes that barely resemble their photos. When shady overseas fashion purveyors advertise on Facebook to find new customers, does Facebook have any responsibility for what happens next? [More]

Mike Mozart

Honda Financial Services Really Sorry They Double-Billed Customers

If you can’t get through to Honda Financial Services, the automaker’s U.S. financing arm, don’t be surprised: they’re currently dealing with a double-debiting fiasco affecting customers who submit payments online. Some customers report that their accounts have overdrafted due to the unexpected double payments. [More]

Tom Richardson

Clothing And Accessories Now The Biggest Category In E-Commerce

What do Americans buy the most of online? Thanks to improved return policies and ever-expanding selection, purchases of clothing and accessories took the top spot in 2015 for the first time. That’s according to research by analytics company ComScore, which tracks online sales by categories, and noticed this important change. [More]

Alan Rappa

Amazon Expands Prime Same-Day Delivery To 11 New Metro Areas

The unofficial word in the business rumor mill is that Amazon plans to expand its Prime Now two-hour delivery service in cities that have it to customers using the company’s website, not just the mobile app. Amazon hasn’t confirmed or denied that news, but did officially announce today that it will be expanding free same-day delivery for Prime members to 11 new metropolitan areas in the United States, and more areas within five metropolitan areas where the service is already available. [More]


Walmart Will Switch To All Cage-Free Eggs By 2025

With competitors like Target and the Kroger and Albertsons families of supermarkets pledging to sell only cage-free eggs, Walmart apparently didn’t want to be left behind. The mega-retailer announced today that by 2025, all of the eggs it sells in Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will come from hens that were not raised in individual cages. [More]

Nicholas Eckhart

Sports Authority Comes To Agreement With Suppliers To Sell Winter Gear

Should you trust someone who’s broke to hold on to your stuff and sell it for you? Suppliers to the bankrupt Sports Authority decided that they didn’t, and filed lawsuits to keep the retailer from selling winter sports merchandise and cold-weather gear and to get it back. Now they’ve reached a settlement over the merchandise… now that winter is over, naturally. [More]

Fuzzy Math At Walmart Means Bigger Chicken Broth Carton Costs You More

Fuzzy Math At Walmart Means Bigger Chicken Broth Carton Costs You More

On the shelf, the 48-ounce carton of Swanson’s chicken broth brags that it’s 50% bigger. “50% bigger than what?” the cynical consumer might ask. The fine print tells us that it’s in comparison to the company’s 32-ounce container. This is all factually true, but the problem is that while the package makes shoppers think that they’ll get more, they’re actually paying more per ounce to buy the bigger package. [More]

All Hancock Fabrics Stores Will Liquidate, Close

Kevin McCarthy (modified)

Back in February, the long-troubled craft store chain Hancock Fabrics filed for bankruptcy for the second time in a decade. This time, there will be no reorganization. The chain planned to close 70 stores and tried to find a buyer for the remaining 185 that would keep the open and preserve thousands of jobs across the country. The winning bidder in yesterday’s auction in bankruptcy court was Great American Group, a liquidator. [More]

Yep, Spring Black Friday Is Still A @#$@*$% Thing

Yep, Spring Black Friday Is Still A @#$@*$% Thing

Most retailers use Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, to kick off their biggest shopping season of the year, even if they also move the sales kickoff around a bit. For stores that sell home-improvement and gardening supplies, spring is their biggest shopping season. That impeccable logic led to the invention of Spring Black Friday, which we first noticed in 2013. It isn’t going away. [More]


Women Uninterested In New Clothes Or Gadgets, Buying Lots Of High-End Makeup

America’s female shoppers just aren’t as interested as they used to be in most of the stuff available in malls: spending on almost everything is down. There’s one area of retail that’s growing that you might not have expected, though: sales of high-end cosmetics are climbing, which include makeup and skin care. Why is that? Blame YouTube. [More]