Hasbro’s Singing the Toys “R” Us Blues; It’s Good to Be Amazon; Target Goes on Holiday Offense With New Shopping Strategies

Don’t toy with me…


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hasbro’s getting burned and it’s blaming Toys “R” Us. The toy company gave some abysmal holiday forecasts which sent shares down about 8%. Toys “R” Us owes creditors some $5 billion.  Among them is Hasbro which was left with a $60 million hole now that all those toys from the company aren’t headed to the toy store’s shelves.  It’s worth noting, however, that Hasbro only sold about 9% of its total inventory through Toys “R” Us.  But it isn’t just Hasbro that’s feeling the heat. Shares of Mattel also took a 4% hit today since a Toys “R” Us bankruptcy affects the entire toy industry, in some instances worse than others.  Incidentally, Hasbro’s third quarter profit went up 3% to $267 million and $2.09 per share, while its quaterly revenue increased 7% to $1.79 billion over the same time last year. Expectations were for $1.78 billion in revenue with just $1.94 per share. Hasbro has “The Last Jedi” to thank for some of this quarter’s gains, along with perennial favorites Monoply and My Little Pony.

Carrot dangling…


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Dignity be damned as 238 cities found themselves swooning and doing whatever they could to lure Amazon’s $5 billion HQ2 project to their part of the country. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio had major New York City landmarks lit up in “Amazon orange” while Newark, New Jersey shrewdly offered the e-commerce giant $7 billion in tax breaks. Because after all, who more so than Amazon should be entitled to receive a $7 billion tax break? But hey, who can blame any of these cities or their savvy leaders for trying to woo Amazon to their neck of the woods. Just ask Seattle, a city that experienced a $38 billion boost to its economy because each dollar that Amazon invested into the city between 2010 to 2016 resulted in an additional $1.40 for the city. Not sure who figured out that formula but its easy to see why everyone wants in on that action. And while Newark’s offer must be awfully enticing, word on the street is that the current front runners are Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit.

Target acquired…


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Target’s got some new tricks up its sleeve this holiday season and is going with the “less is more approach.” What there will be less of are promotions. At least the constant bombardment of them. Apparently that tactic didn’t work so well for the retailer last year and only resulted in a 1.3% decline for the company.  But there’s no need to freak out that Target wont be offering any special deals. It’s just going for a more streamlined approach. Instead of constant deals and promotions, it plans to offer special weekend deals while remaining focused on pricing its merchandise correctly and competitively from the start. The company’s 1,800 stores will also offer a much bigger variety of gifts priced under $15. Expect to see around 1,700 offerings in that category. Perennial favorite, “free shipping  with no minimum” will once again resurface from November 1 – December 23 because, hey,  who doesn’t like free shipping. But perhaps Target’s most exciting new feature is the one dubbed “Gift Now.” Shoppers buy gifts and their (un)lucky recipients open them virtually via email. If  the recipient likes the gift, they enter their shipping address in order to receive the item. If not, they get to pick out something else for the same value. If that’s not novel, I don’t know what is.

GM is Looking to Outclass Tesla: Über is Finally Making Friends Again; Job Market is Looking Even Better Than Our Wildest Dreams – Sort of

Tesla? Tesla who?

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The US auto industry sold some 16.5 million vehicles this year. Yet only 120,000 of those were of the electric and hybrid ilk even though it seems like everyone and their mother drives one. Interestingly enough (or not), some 20 electric/hybrid models have made their presence felt in the automobile market. With oil prices dropping, the appeal of these anti-gas guzzlers are dropping too. So what better time than for GM to announce that Tesla needs to uh…step aside and make way for not one, but two electric/ hybrid vehicles it plans to officially churn out by 2017. But Tesla’s are so cool, what’s to worry? Well, for one, GM’s Chevy Bolt (such an adorable name I can’t stand it and it even rhymes with the Chevy Bolt) boasts a range of 200 miles on a single charge. If that’s not electrifying then I don’t what is. Oh wait, yes I do. The price tag will be $30,000, $5,000 less than Tesla’s Model 3 also due out in 2017. To be fair, no word on how options will affect those digits. By the way, if you find yourself cruising the streets of Palo Alto, you might just notice quite a bit more Chevy Volts tooling around than…dare I say it, Teslas. Just saying.

Wanna borrow my notes?

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Über is finally making headlines for not getting shut down. Well, almost. The ride-sharing app made a deal with Boston officials to share its “smart data” all in the name of goodwill. And maybe some good press, too. While protecting the privacy of its riders and drivers, Über and Boston officials hope to solve some of the city’s problems like easing traffic congestion and improving local infrastructure. Fills you with warm fuzzies, doesn’t it? It was seen as a particularly surprising move for two reasons: one, last month saw the arrest of a Boston area Über driver on assault charges. Two, Über didn’t hand over its “smart data” to officials in New York City even though they asked for it too. In fact, New York’s mighty and powerful Taxi & Limousine Commission managed to shut down all but one of Über’s operations for not coughing up the data. However, Über continues to operate pending the results of an appeal. Rumor has it that Über is in talks with New York City officials, much to the discontent of the TLC, who denies “talks” are even taking place with the competition. By the way, Über announced lower fares in 48 cities. New York City isn’t one of them. As a matter of fact, nor is Boston. Go figure.

Labor Market High…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Job openings in the US hit a 14 year high in November. When the job market posts such impressive digits, you know what that means, dontcha? It means that great numbers are expected for 2015. No seriously. It really does. November saw job openings increase by 2.9% to 4.97 million jobs. That’s a lot of benefits. Not since January 2001 has the job market been such a pleasant topic of conversation. All this hiring gets employers thinking that they’re going to need even more peeps to help churn out all those goods and services which we apparently need and cannot go without. So, provided that all this fabulous job hiring continues we might just be able to look forward to…dare I say it…wage increases. But that’s experts talking. Not me. Just saying. Then there are all those quitters. A good job market loves quitters. For real. Because when quitters quit it means they have moved onto better jobs/careers/life changes. So there.