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Inside Retail (May 22nd, 2017)

Some 7.5 million jobs in the retail industry could be eliminated by increasing automation in the next several years. Cashier jobs are at the highest risk, according to a recent study by Cornerstone Capital Group. “The retail landscape is changing rapidly and investors need to understand the social and governance issues impacting valuations for public companies in this sector,” said Cornerstone founder Erika Karp. About 16 million Americans, or about 10 percent of the U.S. workforce, are employed in the retail sector. – RETAIL DIVE

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Gap Inc.’s (GPS) surprise first quarter results got a boost from a surge in sales at Old Navy, its lower cost brand. Gap reported same-store sales increased 8 percent at Old Navy compared to a decline of 6 percent in the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, Banana Republic, Gap’s higher-end brand, struggled as its first-quarter sales slid 4 percent from the year prior. Gap attributes the improved sales at Old Navy to the brand's budget-conscious millennial customer base. “Old Navy has a very significant penetration of millennial customers that are engaged in that brand,” CEO Art Peck said. – REUTERS

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Convenience stores have been drawing steady increases in sales for several years as they continually evolve their product offerings. Sales hit a record $140.4 billion last year, according to Nielsen data. That’s a 1.8 percent increase from 2015. In fact, convenience stores like Casey’s General Stores, CST Brands and TravelCenters of America are the only niche in brick-and-mortar retailing that Nielsen anticipates will win spend share by 2021. In response to consumer demands, convenience stores are shifting their product staples from cigarettes, packaged beverages and candy to e-cigarettes, enhanced water and craft beer. – EMARKETER

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Big box discount retailers Target Inc. (TGT) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter in a retail environment riddled with bankruptcies and store closures. Target and Wal-Mart have achieved success in different ways as consumers have been gravitating toward more affordable purchases in the wake of the Great Recession. Wal-Mart is focusing on improving its online strategy through acquisitions like the $3.3 billion takeover of Jet.com. Meanwhile, Target is avoiding acquisitions that would expand its product line to focus on its most successful products, including apparel. – INVESTOPEDIA

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J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) is launching a business-to-business effort that targets the hospitality industry. The Plano, Texas-based department store chain wants to shore up market share in soft home goods and major appliances and increase its revenue per customer by selling directly to hotels. “Our entry into the B2B program reinforces our home refresh initiative, while providing new and innovative ways to achieve sustainable growth and profitability,” said J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison in a statement. J.C. Penney products like sheets, bedding and pillows are in high demand by hotels, which also need major appliances like refrigerators and microwaves. – CHAIN STORE AGE

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