Will Stride Rite Be Around Much Longer?

When a big chain or brand goes under, rarely does it happen overnight.  You don’t see a once healthy business go belly up.  There are usually warning signs.  I’m starting to really wonder if Stride Rite shoes is falling into that category.  There are a number of reasons that I am thinking that it could be a brand that might not be around longer.  Note: This is only my opinion based on observations and widely known news.

Stride Rite Is Closing Stores

We have always been Stride Rite shoppers.  I’d guess that well over half of our kids casual shoes have been from Stride Rite.  They seemed like they were good quality.  Also, since we had an outlet store nearby, it was nothing to get a good style and fit.

I think that trying on shoes is pretty important.  Rarely do we every buy shoes sight unseen.  Having that fit is kind of important.

So, we were a bit surprised to hear that they are closing all of their nearby stores.  It looks like they are closing many stores throughout the country. Apparently they want to be more online focuses.

I just don’t know how you can sell a majority of your product online when it comes to something like shoes.  I suppose they could work to sell them in other stores, but there’s a lot of competition to overcome when selling alongside a bunch of other brands.

Stride Rite Ended Their Loyalty Program

Kids Shoes
image from morguefile courtesy of KellyP42

Stride Rite had a loyalty program.  I don’t think we ever took part, but maybe we did.  My wife would know.  But in any case, the program is gone.  They’ve decided to end it, according to their website.

This seems highly unusual.  Usually you want to build a following and keep a reason for customers to stay loyal.  By removing a big incentive to stay brand loyal, they are risking losing customers they probably want to keep.  It seems pretty strange to me.

Final Sale Is Apparently A Policy You Might Not Know About

Against our usual habits, we bought some shoes online for our son.  They came and while they fit, they weren’t exactly what we had in mind.  My wife called to see about returning them and was told that they were final sale.  She looked back at the online listing and there was nothing about it.  The price was still the same.  She mentioned this to the rep and was told that they aren’t noting the policy on each item page.

Like, who does that?  Not a company that has generally been known for pretty high customer service in the past.

Where Will Stride Rite Land?

It’ll be interesting to see where Stride Rite will land.  It almost seems to me like they’ve given up.  I know that the retail market is tough these days.  But, the things that they’re doing seem to be the opposite you’d expect out of a company that wants to work their way through it.

Readers, what do you think?  Am I misreading the signs or do you think Stride Rite is in trouble?  What other companies do you personally think might not make it?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

The Best Digital Tools for Saving Money

In our increasingly digital world, there’s an app, website or browser extension for just about everything, including money management and shopping. It’s easy to do all your banking online, transfer money to and from accounts, and review and make adjustments to your investments. As for couponing, cash-back programs and digital promo codes make savings instant and accessible without clipping or storing.

Since most of us never leave the house without our smartphones and spend much of our time in front of a computer, using these tools is all the more effortless. Read on for the best digital tools to streamline your finances and savings potential!

Money Management Apps

 

budget.jpg

Mint. This all-in-one money manager helps you budget and track expenses. View your accounts, credit card statements and recent transactions, and keep track of your upcoming bills on one easy-to-use interface. Mint also allows you to view your credit score, and facilitates management for your investment accounts. Mint is available on desktop and mobile devices, so you can stay on top of finances no matter where you are. It’s free to create an account, and your security is always guaranteed.

Level Money. One of the hardest challenges of budgeting is knowing how much you can properly put aside each month for fun spending. Level Money helps by creating a budget for you to determine how much per month you can use for splurging after taking care of rent and bills. Their app tracks your spending and keeps your balances and totals easily viewable so you don’t lose track. Set savings goals, view all your bank and credit card accounts and even get bill predictions for the next month.

Wally. Say goodbye to overstuffed wallets full of disorganized receipts. Wally’s personal finance app not only keeps track of every purchase you make, but allows you to scan and store receipts. With a colorful and orderly interface, this app makes it easy to track how much you have and how much you’ve spent. You can also categorize expenses with customizable fields, which helps organize your budget better.

Digit. Stashing away money for savings every day isn’t an easy task. The days of collecting spare change into jars are dwindling, but as per the new norm, there’s now an app for that. Digit works with your bank account to analyze your daily spending and calculate an amount that can be put into savings every few days. With no account minimum required, unlimited transfers and a no-overdraft guarantee, this app is a smart choice for a risk-free way to start saving.

Shopping Tools

Application_for_online_shoppers.png

Coupon Sherpa. The purpose of the coupon is to save you money, but you don’t have to dedicate hours to clipping, stashing and saving them. Getting in the habit of checking for coupons for specific stores you plan on visiting is easy with savings sites like https://www.couponsherpa.com/. This site and app has a huge selection of online coupon codes, in-store offers and even grocery coupons. Their search interface makes it easy to look for specific stores, even if you’re already in the checkout lane.

Honey. This browser extension does the couponing for you. Whenever you shop online, Honey scours the internet for coupon codes or discounts that are applicable to your order and automatically applies them. Honey works with popular online merchants like Amazon, Expedia and Groupon, but also for restaurants and clothing retailers. Plus, you can also earn cash back for shopping with this extension. You can install Honey for free on all major browsers through https://www.joinhoney.com, including Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

Group Buying Sites. One of the best ways to save while still enjoying local activities and dining out is to check out group buying sites like Groupon or LivingSocial. These sites feature new deals every day for restaurants, activities or products near you. Often the savings are up to 70% off, with coupon codes making the savings even more considerable. Most group deal sites are available as mobile apps, too.

Rewards and Cash Back Earners

15816574788_c6fd1defc1_b.jpg

Ebates. Ebates is a popular cash-back shopping portal that helps you earn extra income every time you shop online. What shoppers may not know is they also have a browser extension that, like Honey, scans sites where you shop online for cashback offers and automatically applies promo codes to your purchases. You must be a member to earn rewards through Ebates, but it’s free to join and use.

Paribus. How many times have you made a purchase one day, only to discover the price on the item drops a few days later? When you use Paribus, you receive a price adjustment without any extra work! Paribus tracks your online shopping receipts and seeks price adjustment refunds when an original price drops. The service takes 25 percent of what you receive if they successfully find you a refund (and nothing if they don’t). If you don’t track prices after you make purchases, Paribus is a no-brainer way to get a little money back with zero effort.

Shopkick. The Shopkick app lets you earn rewards points, or Kicks, when you shop at participating locations. You earn Kicks just for walking into a store, and then on every item you purchase. The Kicks can later be redeemed for gift cards to a variety of popular stores or even restaurants like Starbucks. It’s comparable to a credit card rewards program (without pesky balances and APRs), and the app is completely free.

Ibotta. This handy rebate app allows you to scan barcodes, upload receipts and earn cash back for shopping at popular grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and even specialty stores. Your earnings go into an Ibotta account which can then be transferred to Paypal or converted into gift cards. The app also allows you to earn bonuses and works with many popular rewards programs to ensure maximum savings and cash back.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Things That Troubled Brick And Mortar Stores Need To Do

In an ever changing retail landscape, Gander Mountain is the latest victim to consolidation in the brick and mortar landscape.  They filed for bankruptcy and will be closing about 20% of their stores.  For now.  As has been the case with many other retailers, this is often the first wave of many.  Can Gander Mountain make it?  That remains to be seen.  What’s clear is that troubled brick and mortar stores need to make changes if they do want to survive.  While there are no guarantees, here are some potential changes.

Cut Locations

This is the first and most obvious solution.  Stores that aren’t making money are the first to go.  Even profitable stores might need to go if the profits are trending downward.  Stores need target more than just the obvious choices here.

Shrink Store Layouts

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to close a store altogether, but instead cutting square footage might help. Stores will probably see some loss of sales, but if they can cut expenses by 50% while only losing 20% of sales, it could be enough.

Examine Mergers

Over the past year, it seems that sporting good stores are among the hardest hit retailers.  While there is likely a need for physical sporting goods stores, the market doesn’t need half a dozen chains.  Companies may need to examine whether industry consolidation is a viable alternative.  Otherwise, the market may make the decision for them.

Form Partnerships

I’ve seen multiple department stores form partnerships with other brands.  They do so by effectively renting floor space.  As an example, JC Penney has quite a few ‘Sephora’ store-within-a-store locations within their footprint.  This reduces overhead, and if it’s a good fit, customers heading to the mini-store will shop at the big store.  I’ve heard that Kohl’s is looking for such partnerships as well.

Revise Your Merchandise Mix

I was recently at a local mall that I haven’t been to for awhile, and came across an f.y.e. store.  This is an entertainment store.  When this location first opened about 15 years ago, it was massive, and it sold just about every DVD and CD that you could find.  This came about during the heyday of ‘disc’ sales.  This marketplace has shifted, and so has the store.  They are now in a much smaller spot (about 20% of the original size), and while they have some DVDs and CDs, they now focus on items such as toys, vinyl, and other entertainment niche products.  It remains to be seen whether this will be enough for them to survive, but I applaud the company for trying.

Have Special Events

Back when Disney first opened mall stores, the iconic Disney name was enough to draw shoppers in.  After the allure

Image from morguefiles via veggieretz

faded, they realized that they actually had to work to draw in shoppers.  Now, our nearest Disney store often has events that you can’t replicate online.  This attracts shoppers, young and old, that will go to dress up as their favorite Princess, something that you can’t do on the web.

Readers, what changes do you see stores making or needing to make to stay afloat?  Please let me know your observations and ideas in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Shopping Malls Dying While Shopping Centers Thriving

The shopping mall has been in a steady decline for a while.  As of 2014, no new enclosed malls had been built since 2006.  That’s a far cry from when the shopping mall reigned king.  Yet, while shopping malls have hit some hard times, new shopping centers are still being built at a brisk pace.  So why are shopping malls dying while shopping centers are thriving?  Here is my theory.

Online Shopping Has Changed The Retail Landscape

It’s no secret that online shopping has taken a big chunk out of traditional brick & mortar stores.  It seems every year, online sales records are shattered.  Cyber Monday 2016 was record breaking.

I know I love shopping online when I have the opportunity.  For me, as long as I can get what I want better or near the same price, I’ll buy online more often than not.  I will even pay a little more sometimes.  I figure my time saved in not having to go get the item (plus gas) makes up for the cost.

Brick & Mortar Stores Are Not Going Away

In spite of more and more shopping being done online, people still go to stores.  Parking lots still get full on busy days.  Even throughout the year, there are some places that are always packed.

I don’t ever see a time where physical stores go away.  You’ll always have people that want to browse.  There will always be items that simply don’t lend themselves to buying online.  Some items are impulse buys and even drone deliveries will often take too long compared to buying something on the spot.

You’re always going to have stores.

My Theory On Shopping Malls Dying While Shopping Centers Growing

Around where I live, we have several shopping malls within a 15 mile radius.  While most stay busy, there isn’t talk of

Image from Morguefiles courtesy of Jusben

any new ones.  There are a couple that, while not struggling, are definitely showing some signs of stress.  Renovation projects at nearby malls are infrequent and cosmetic.

Meanwhile, shopping centers are still going up like crazy.  Within just a few miles, it seems a new shopping center goes up every month and are full almost immediately.  And, it’s not like older shopping centers are dying.

So why is this?

My theory is that online shopping has taken enough of a chunk to where shopping at the store is no longer the event that it used to be.  Back before online sales, if you needed to go out, you could make a whole day of it.  Going to ten stores to buy all sorts of different things was not out of the norm.  So, why not drive to one place and have it all right there for you?  The mall was perfect for this.

Malls Are A Burden

Now, with online shopping, people still need to go out, but they no longer need to spend all day shopping.  Instead of spending a whole day shopping, they might need to just stop at one or two places.  When having to run into just one or two stores, the mall suddenly becomes very inconvenient.

Even if the frequency of these types of stops increases, meaning that people make more per month, people would still rather run in and out.  Who wants to deal with parking, making a long walk in, having to walk all around a big mall, just to make one or two stops?  Nobody.

Everything that once made the mall the center of retail is now working against it.

Do Malls Have A Future?

With all of this, can the decline of the mall be reversed?  Who knows?  I certainly don’t see any movement that would suddenly reverse the trend of online sales, but there could be something else to change the landscape.  It’s hard to tell.

I think that the stagnation of malls will continue.  What you might see is that more and more malls will contract as they continue to age and owners realize that the cost of upkeep is no longer worth it.  Big box retailers seem to be struggling, and as they traditionally act as anchors to shopping malls, this is an ongoing risk.  As more big retailers close, the mall could die off quickly.

Malls typically also take up many acres of real estate.  Depending on the location of the mall, there might not be a big chunk of land, so a mall parcel could be very attractive.  Think of all the houses that could be built.  Or office buildings.

Or even shopping centers.

Readers, how are malls doing where you live?  Do you find yourself making less frequent visits than you once did?  What are your thoughts on the future of the once mighty shopping mall?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.