Walmart is looking to encourage collective action to support communities nationwide through its new Spark Good initiative.
According to Walmart Foundation’s Julie Gehrki, the program brings a robust suite of giving resources to one convenient location on Walmart.com, providing easy access to programs and tools for nonprofits while empowering customers and associates to rally support for the causes that matter most to them. Two specific programs are making giving easier for customers while also making receiving easier for public charities. They include:
• Spark Good Round Up: Customers can round up their purchase total and donate their change to the charity of their choice at checkout on Walmart.com and Walmart app year-round. Whereas most round up programs enable customers to give to a pre-determined nonprofit partner, Spark Good Round Up allows customers to choose the organization they want to support.
• Spark Good Registry: Just like a baby or wedding registry, nonprofits can create and manage registries for products they want and need making it easier for customers to ensure their giving supports areas that will make the greatest impact. Nonprofits can now send charitable receipts and thank their donors all through Spark Good.
An impact dashboard will be available for customers to see how Walmart and others in their community are supporting charities. The retailer is offering a $50 gift card to the first 2,500 local public charities that become verified on the Spark Good platform or enroll in Spark Good Round Up.
Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
As the pace of food inflation continues to climbinto record territory, Lidl US is offering some relief to budget-conscious shoppers. The grocer announced new rotating price cuts on more than 100 items offered in all of its American stores.
The price-drop promotion will begin on Sept. 28 and continue throughout the fall. Items up for rotating discounts range from ready-to-cook meals to dessert indulgences to pantry staples. Examples of featured products include Stone Oven Margherita Pizza selling for $4.45, premium extra virgin olive oil vinaigrettes for $3.59, wheat biscuits for $1.29 and mini mix frozen dairy dessert bars for $4.49, among dozens of others.
"We recognize that inflation and rising food prices are impacting many families and we hope to give more relief through this fall price-cutting campaign,"said Stefan Schwarz, chief product officer and EVP of purchasing for Lidl US. "We are committed to offering all of our customers the best value in our stores every day, and we continue to invest in additional ways for customers to save money when we know it matters most.”
Neckarsulm, Germany-based Lidl operates around 12,000 stores and is active in 32 countries, employing more than 360,000 employees globally. With U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Va., the grocer operates about 170 stores in nine East Coast states. Lidl US is No. 89 on the PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
General Motors is getting into the grocery cart business – or at least the e-cart business. The company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, BrightDrop, has unveiled a temperature-controlled e-cart called Trace Grocery that optimizes digital pickup and fulfillment.
BrightDrop, which offers a portfolio of electric vehicles, smart containers and software for last-mile deliveries, has spent the past year or so refining the e-cart prototypes and technologies. Following a successful pilot program at two locations in Kentucky, The Kroger Co. will soon begin using Trace Grocery in its e-commerce operations.
“COVID has driven a dramatic increase in online grocery shopping, and fulfilling these orders profitably has become a major challenge for retailers of all sizes. With the Trace Grocery, we saw an opportunity to help companies like Kroger tackle these challenges head on,” said Travis Katz, president and CEO of California-based BrightDrop. “As online shopping continues to grow, BrightDrop is committed to developing innovative solutions to help our customers keep pace. The Trace Grocery is a perfect example of this.”’
Trade Grocery streamlines and expedites fulfillment by allowing store associates to put orders directly into the unit before stationing it curbside for customer pickup. Shoppers can access their orders, then, without having an employee present, helping stores maximize labor.
Capable of storing 350 pounds of groceries in up to nine compartments, the e-cart can be easily navigated inside and outside a store and includes features like auto-breaking and weatherproofing. Items can stay in the unit at food-safe temperatures for up to four hours.
According to BrightDrop, full-scale availability of Trace Grocer is expected in 2024. The company is also working on advanced customizable capabilities.
General Motors created BrightDrop in 2021 as a one-stop shop ecosystem for the delivery and logistics industry.
Following much anticipation, Texas grocer H-E-B has opened the doors to its first location in the DFW Metroplex. Located in Frisco, the store features many of the retailer’s state-of-the-art amenities and innovations, as well as a True Texas BBQ, a Home by H-E-B department and more.
The 118,000-square-foot store is part of the retailer’s multi-format flagship banner and joins a network of six H-E-B-owned Central Market locations in the DFW area. The Frisco outpost also boasts a pet department, beauty department and large frozen section joined by locally grown produce, handmade sushi, a meat market and an extensive craft beer and wine section with sampling.
Environmental sustainability was top of mind with the build, incorporating several energy efficient inclusions such as CO2 refrigeration units and LED lighting. The site also features extensive native landscaping and an outdoor community space.
“Opening our flagship H-E-B format in the DFW area has been an aspirational goal of ours for many years, and the company has a long-term commitment to serve a broad range of customers and communities across North Texas,” said Stephen Butt, president of the Central Market Division and H-E-B board member. “The DFW Metroplex is among the most competitive markets in the nation, and our H-E-B partners are committed to work hard every day to earn the trust of our customers.”
On May 25, H-E-B started construction on another location for the DFW Metroplex, breaking ground at the site of a new store in Allen, which is set to open in late summer 2023. The grocery chain is also working on a site in Mansfield, about 30 miles from Dallas.
In response to feedback from store managers, Dollar General Corp. has recently launched a new scheduling program, Store Manager (SM) Flex, to increase flexibility and improve work-life balance. The discount retailer’s nearly 19,000 store managers across the country now have more control over their work-week schedules.
“Maintaining open lines of communication with our employees remains a top priority at Dollar General,” shared Kathy Reardon, Dollar General’s EVP and chief people officer. “When we received feedback from our store manager colleagues that many desired more flexibility in determining their schedule, we worked collaboratively to find a solution with SM Flex. We’re excited for this new program and are already hearing from team members about how it’s improving their overall DG employee experience.”
SM Flex offers store managers a simplified platform with various scheduling options aimed at increasing efficiency and providing a more consistent work-week, as well as accommodating employees’ schedules based on their individual store and personal commitments.
The company began testing SM Flex in 2021 with hundreds of store managers piloting the initiative and providing positive reviews of its implementation.
Meanwhile, Dollar General recently reported net income of $678 million, with earnings per share of $2.98, for second quarter ended July 29, compared to $637 million, and $2.69 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales increased 9% to $9.4 billion.
Specialty grocer The Fresh Market, Inc. has promoted two key team members at its corporate office. Effective immediately, the following individuals are serving in their new roles:
• Wade Yenny (at left) has been promoted to VP, center store, having previously served as director of grocery merchandising. In this new role, Yenny will oversee grocery, dairy and frozen foods as well as take on space planning and bulk, candy and coffee.
• Peter Mayes (at right) has been promoted to group VP, merchandising. Mayes served as meat and seafood director. In his new role, he will continue to oversee meat and seafood, as well as taking on new functions and direct reports from supply chain, visual merchandising, and the company’s pricing team.
“These promotions are a recognition of the hard work and significant contributions team members have made to The Fresh Market,” said Dan Portnoy, chief merchandising officer at The Fresh Market. “We look forward to their continued contributions in the years to come.”