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Inside Retail (Apr 16th, 2018)

Allegiant Air came under fire in a “60 Minutes” segment over the weekend. The scathing report focused on the Las Vegas-based airline’s safety and maintenance records. The report outlined about 100 cases of serious mechanical problems that led to early landings, canceled takeoffs and emergency descents, among others. Shares of Allegiant were poised for a roughly 5 percent loss in Monday’s session on the news. In response, Allegiant has dismissed the report as focusing on old incidents without factoring in its latest FAA audit. – CBS

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Retail sales in the U.S. increased in March after three months of declines. Retailers said sales increased 0.6% last month, according to the latest Commerce Department data. Those gains were driven by auto dealers, who posted their best month in seven months with sales up 2 percent. Home furnishing stores, pharmacies and internet retailers also drove sales higher. U.S. consumers took a break from spending following the holiday season but are now welcoming more money in their pocket as the economy recovers and tax refunds start rolling in. – MARKETWATCH

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Macy’s is dominating other online retailers in the apparel market space, according to SimilarWeb, a firm that surveys digital markets. JCPenney ranked second followed by Gap, Nordstrom and Zulily. In electronics, Best Buy topped with list with 11.6 million monthly visits to its website. Newegg and Gamestop followed. Amazon did not rank in the top 10 in either category, but it continued to shore up market share as a general merchandiser, along with eBay and Costco. – RETAIL DIVE

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The billionaire toymaker who launched a crowdfunding campaign to save Toys R Us locations didn’t meet his goal, but he bid for the retailer anyway. Isaac Larian, who founded MGA Entertainment Inc., offered $675 million for the Toys R Us locations in the U.S. He also bid $215 million for the locations in Canada as the retailer wades through bankruptcy proceedings. He denied that the move was simply for a publicity stunt. “I’m making a cash deposit today and have a letter from my banks that I have the funds to do this,” Larian said. – WSJ

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Several food chains are hoping to improve staff retention with a new perk: tuition assistance for college. The food service industry has significant turnover with nearly 72.5 percent of employees leaving their jobs last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now, Chipotle, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Taco Bell are providing help with the costs of college as a way to keep more veterans on staff. At Starbucks, employees must work 20 hours per week to get the benefits, which include 100 percent of tuition reimbursed at Arizona State University. “We know that people stay with us longer when they participate in these programs," Rob Lauber, chief learning officer at McDonald's. – CNBC

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