Archive for  December 2018

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Brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy found an advantage over Amazon this holiday: Store pickups on online orders.

Offering customers free pickups for digital orders has become a key part of these retailers’ strategy to compete against Amazon’s rapid and extensive home delivery network. Retailers have blanketed the country with store pickup options in recent years, and those investments paid off during the holidays.

Buy online, pickup-in-store spending increased 47% from November 1 to December 19 compared to a year ago, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Adobe said it was the biggest holiday on record for online pickups.

Customers have been quick to embrace online pickups from stores. Analysts say it appeals to shoppers who want to grab their stuff and go without waiting in checkout lines or interacting with sales workers on the floor.

At Walmart’s investor day in October, Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside said pickup was attractive to both “a time-pressed mom” heading home after picking her kids up at school and a “convenience-seeking baby boomer on the way home from the golf course.”

Picking up mobile or online orders from stores in hours can also be faster than waiting days for home delivery. It works for last-minute holiday shoppers who need to buy a gift in a hurry. Old Navy even partnered with Lyft to offer customers free rides to stores for online pickups last Saturday.

“The issue with delivery is that it can take several days,” said Georgianna Oliver, the founder of Package Concierge, a firm that creates in-store lockers for retailers. She said weekly orders have doubled for her company’s lockers since last last year.

For retailers, pickup is a better economic model because they can avoid paying expensive shipping fees. Retailers’ profit margins have dipped in recent years from fulfilling online orders.

“The realization of the growing costs of e-commerce fulfillment pushed many brands to step it up this past year,” said Steve Dennis, a retail consultant and former executive at Sears and Neiman Marcus.

Amazon (AMZN), which lags rivals in the space, just started offering grocery pickup from Whole Foods in August. It’s only available in 22 cities. It has also been building out new stores like Amazon Go, Amazon Books, and Amazon-4 Star.

Best Buy (BBY) started offering pickup more than a decade ago. Forty percent of Best Buy’s online orders today are picked up at one of its 1,000 US stores. “Stores are a wonderful asset,”CEO Hubert Joly told CNN Business in a recent interview. “People choose to go to the store because in less than an hour you can pick up your stuff.”

Customers often select pickup from Best Buy instead of home delivery because they’re buying gifts for family members, or they don’t want to risk someone stealing an expensive TV off their porch, Joly said.

Walmart (WMT) has raced to add grocery pickup to more than 2,000 stores in four years. It also has added pickup towers for general items to 700 stores over the past two years. By the end of the year, it will be able to reach 70% of the US population with pickup, it said.

Walmart will soon overtake Apple as the third largest online retailer in the country thanks to customers picking up groceries in stores, according to report by research firm eMarketer.

Target (TGT) was late to roll out pickup, but has scaled what it calls “drive-up” to around 1,000 stores. Employees bring customers’ orders out to their cars.

Target said that it was helping the company reduce costs. “Given the cost of last mile shipping, we like the economics of drive-up much better,” Target Chief Operating Officer John Mulligan told analysts in November.

Despite the growth opportunities, pickup is not easy to operate and presents several obstacles for retailers, including security, inventory control, and staffing. Retailers have to implement procedures that prevent fraud, Oliver said.

Retailers also need to make sure stores don’t run out of stock for online orders, and that workers are not overwhelmed with double duty handling pickups and running stores. Walmart, for example, has 25,000 trained personal shoppers to select produce and meat at stores for online orders.

MARICOPA COUNTY, Arizona — A case regarding the alleged abuse of migrant children in a Southwest Key shelter will be referred to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review and to determine whether criminal charges will be filed, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

The news comes after the Arizona Republic obtained surveillance videos through an open records request that show staffers pushing and dragging migrant children in a shelter operated by Southwest Key, the nation’s largest provider of migrant children shelters.

According to the newspaper, the incidents took place at the Hacienda Del Sol shelter in Youngtown, Arizona, in mid-September and involved three children and numerous staffers.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office initially told CNN it investigated the allegations but determined the actions did not rise to the level of criminal charges.

But the office changed its mind and said in an updated statement released Sunday: “Based upon the evidence gathered during this thorough investigation, MCSO executive command has made the decision to submit the case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for its review and determination of criminal charges.”

The case will be submitted on Monday, the sheriff’s office said.


Videos show staff members shoving, dragging children
Southwest Key closed the Hacienda Del Sol facility in late October after negotiations with state health authorities who were considering revoking the licenses of 13 Southwest Key shelters in Arizona, according to the Arizona Republic.

CNN previously reported the Arizona Department of Health Services considered the move because Southwest Key had failed to provide the department with proof it conducts background checks on employees.

The videos were blurred and edited by the state’s Department of Health Services, which licenses the migrant shelters.

One clip published by the Arizona Republic shows a male staffer dragging a young child into the room and pushing him against the wall. There appears to be a confrontation between the two before the male staffer leaves the room.

Another video shows a female staff member pulling a child through the room and attempting to enter another room.

The child lies on the ground and the female staffer drags the child through the doorway as another staff member pulls a different child into the conference room and drags that child into the next room.

CNN has filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain the videos.


Two staffers fired, source says
Southwest Key declined to comment on the case now being referred to the Maricopa County Attorney, but referred CNN to a statement the company issued at the time of the incident.

“We wholeheartedly welcomed the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s decision to suspend operations at Hacienda Del Sol and are working to thoroughly retrain our staff,” Southwest Key spokesman Jeff Eller told the Arizona Republic in a statement on October 5.

“We are simultaneously engaging the Child Welfare Consulting Partnership to do an independent, top to bottom review of our processes, procedures, hiring and training in our Arizona shelters.”

According to a source with direct knowledge of how the incidents in the videos were handled, Southwest Key self-reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement and local police at the time the events occurred.

After an internal investigation, two staff members were fired and additional disciplinary measures were taken against other staffers, the source said.

The Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed in a statement to the Arizona Republic that it did receive a report about the incident in mid-September and that it prompted an investigation and an on-site inspection.

CNN has reached out to both the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

CLIVE, Iowa — Most people associate fireworks with the Fourth of July. For others, New Year’s Eve is another holiday filled with festive pyrotechnic displays.

Many people forget the state law allows you to light off fireworks later on Dec. 31 than any other date in the whole calendar year; that is, if your county and city allows.

With sunsets happening before 5 p.m. this time of year, Iowa Fireworks Company owner Jeremiah Terhark says this is one of the best times to light off fireworks.

“It’s perfect weather with the early evenings to get nice bright colors outside,” Terhark said.

The 2017 bill legalizing fireworks in Iowa only allows for two periods each year fireworks can be used. One is right now, from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3, only during the hours of 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. But the bill extends the hours on New Year’s Eve, allowing fireworks to be shot off until 12:30 a.m. the next morning, an hour and a half longer than what is allowed on the Fourth of July.

“We`ve got customers coming from all over the state since this is our only location so it’s fun to catch up with people,” Terhark said. He adds that while their current sales are less than what they saw back six months ago, many are still taking advantage of the opportunity to light up the sky, if their local government is letting them.

“It is confusing with the different city and county rules,” Terhark said.

Most cities, like Des Moines, West Des Moines and Urbandale, banned the use of fireworks within city limits during this winter time period. But a few towns in central Iowa, such as Mitchellville, opted to leave the state bill as is. Mayor Dean Brand says they haven’t had very many issues in doing so.

“We did sort of a survey during the summer about days or hours on the fireworks and from the feedback we got, the council just decided that we’re good. They opted to leave it as it was,” Mayor Brand said.

But others say fireworks in quiet neighborhoods create issues. That’s why Cassandra Johnson, the dog behavior and enrichment coordinator for the Animal Rescue League in Des Moines, says pet owners need to be prepared.

“Have a plan in place. We`re going to be inside [and] only outside to go potty quick. You can [turn the] TV on, music, pheromones,” Johnson said.

“Be a good neighbor,” Terhark adds. “Check in with your neighbors to let them know that they can be expecting you to use the products.”

The other thing commonly associated with New Year’s Eve is alcohol. Terhark is also reminding everyone that fireworks and booze do not mix. In fact, in cities where fireworks are illegal, you can face additional charges if you are found intoxicated while lighting off fireworks.

Agribusiness Reporter David Geiger speaks to Dave Miller the Director of Research and Commodity Services at the Iowa Farm Bureau on the U.S.-China relationship and his reflection on 20 years working for IFB.

David Geiger: “How you are viewing our current relationship with China?”

Dave Miller: “‘Strained’ would be the one word I would use to describe it. And the strain that is out there between the U.S. and China has been brewing for quite a while. And I think there are people and countries around the world that are actually pretty much behind the U.S. effort on this to say that China needs to change. And yes, we want access to that market, yes we want good trade relationships with them. But they need to play by the rules. And whether the tariffs are the right way to bring them to them to the bargaining table to make change there, I guess, is yet to be seen. Clearly agriculture gets hurt by tariffs while that’s going on. But I remind people. The U.S. didn’t put tariffs on soybeans. The U.S. didn’t put tariffs on pork, China did. It was not the U.S. that created problems for corn imports into China. That was China’s decision. We have been, and will remain, a reliable supplier to China. The question is, are they a reliable buyer?”

David Geiger: “Now, Dave, you are retiring at the beginning of next year, and you’ve had nearly 20 years of experience here at the Iowa Farm Bureau. With agriculture and international relations, particularly pertaining here to the local economy. What do you see looking back at that when you see the future of Iowa agriculture?”

Dave Miller: “Well, I think the future of Iowa agriculture is still bright. We continue to develop markets around the world. We produce for a world market. Exports are extremely important to almost every commodity produced in Iowa. Probably, just did some recent numbers, and 59 percent of the soybeans, soybean meal, soybean oil end up in export markets. It’s about 23 percent of our pork ends up in export markets. Ten to 12 percent of our beef. Fifteen to 20 percent of corn and if you add any DDGs it’s probably up into the 22-23 percent. All of these markets are vitally to the continued growth and development of Iowa. And so trade and international relationships are very important. I see us continuing to work on those. The recent skirmish with China probably points to the wisdom if you will of having multiple trading partners. And not putting all your eggs in one basket with regard to a single market for export goods.”

DES MOINES, Iowa — Amid an investigation into claims of sexual harassment, an audit report shows the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) was also misspending money.

“We found that many of the harassing activity occurred while on business travel, and while Mr. Jamison and others were consuming a lot of alcohol. There was information in the State Auditor’s finding about improper alcohol purchases including during the work day and on travel,” said Mark Weindhardt of Weindhardt Law Firm.

Des Moines attorney Mark Weinhardt investigated the sexual harassment claims that led to the governor firing IFA Director David Jamison back in March. Weinhardt says the state audit backs up those claims.

It shows former IFA director David Jamison misspent more than a half million dollars. Nearly $27,000 of that on credit card purchases and $5,300 in travel expenses. The report says the largest amount of money, some $328,000, was misspent on payroll.

“We also found that Mr. Jamison had very aggressively increased the compensation of several employees at IFA. The employees he tended to do this with were younger and female,” Weinhardt said.

The interim IFA director released a statement saying in part:

“It reinforced that unconscionable actions and poor judgments took place in the past. Moving forward, we’re focused on ensuring integrity and safeguards are firmly integrated throughout IFA.”

We reached out to David Jamison and the governor for comment and have not heard back.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Police Department detectives are investigating the deaths of an adult male and adult female found within a Des Moines residence. Police say the deaths are being investigated as homicides.

Des Moines police have identified the victims as 54-year-old Gaylord George Jolly, Jr. and 49-year-old Tracy Linn Adams. Officials say they sustained multiple sharp-force injuries from their nephew and son, 30-year-old Joshua Lee Adams.

Gaylord George Jolly, Jr. is an uncle to Joshua Adams. Tracy Adams is Joshua Adams’ mother.

Joshua Adams now faces two counts of first-degree murder.

At approximately 3:41 p.m. Friday, Des Moines Police Department patrol officers and the Des Moines Fire Department responded to the 3900 block of E. 26th Street to investigate a report of an assault. Officers arrived and found Jolly and Adams deceased.

The case has been referred to the Polk County Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

DAYTON, Iowa — Stealing money from kids during Christmas Time is pretty low, but that’s exactly what a couple of grinches did in the small Iowa town of Dayton. The theft was captured on camera.

It happened at the Dayton Car Wash a little before four o’clock in the morning on the day after Christmas. Items were taken from the Little Jaguars Booster Club’s collection bin. The club collects cans all year round, and then redeems the cans for money to fund field trips, sports equipment, school supplies and after-prom events, and many other things.

“I would estimate probably less than $200,” said Chief Nicholas Dunbar. “It’s not the biggest theft. The disappointing fact is that they were taking the cans and stealing money from children essentially.”

Chief Dunbar calls it a crime of opportunity, because it happened early in the morning when there were not a lot of people around to see it.

“There’s not a lot of vehicle traffic, not a lot of pedestrian traffic,” said Dunbar. “There`s just not a lot of people out. So, you could see in the video they clearly got out of the vehicle when they exited the car wash and looked around, made sure that nobody was there watching. I don’t think they seen the security video system there though.”

Anyone with any information about this theft is asked to contact the Dayton Police Department at 515-573-2323.

DES MOINES, Iowa — While the warm weather might be nice for some Iowans, most of the state’s ice fisherman would say things have been less than ideal.

“Places near Des Moines like Badger Creek or Beaver Lake where we had seen some early ice fishing, that’s pretty much been ruined because of the warm weather” said DNR Spokesman Mick Klemesrud.

The Iowa DNR says if fisherman are still feeling the need to get out on the ice they need to travel.

“You need to go further north and find some of our natural shallow lakes like Clear Lake and Spirit Lake, East Okoboji…with this freeze thaw cycle we’ve been in that does weaken existing ice to the point where if you don’t have much snow cover to buffer the heat you’re going to lose the strength and the quality of the ice” said Klemesrud.

The weather has been a bit of a pain for shops in the metro like Johnston Bait and Tackle; less ice means less customers.

“There’s definitely guys on the weekend still going up but it’s always busier if we have some decent ice around here. You know, it’s easy after work or on the weekend to take the kids and hop on the pond or something” said employee Gus Beebe.

Beebe says they’re hoping a cold snap in January will get things back on track for their business, and for when they get to close up shop and fish themselves.

“I had some big plans for Big Creek this year. I know there’s some big channel cats, big walleye, it’s been a really good walleye year up there already, so I’m looking forward to continuing that through the ice” he said.

If you do venture out on the ice, the DNR says you need at least four inches of new clear ice, and five to six if you’re bringing a snowmobile. Johnston Bait and Tackle says make sure you have the right gear.

“Spud bars are always crucial, spikes, have a buddy. No fish is worth your life, you know?” said Beebe.

Fisherman can check out to find ponds stocked by the DNR.

DES MOINES, Iowa– Some Metro beer drinkers are enjoying a familiar flavor for a good cause.

Wednesday, Confluence Brewing Company tapped the first of nine kegs of the Resilience Indian Pale Ale (IPA).

It’s all part of a nationwide fundraiser by Sierra Nevada where all the proceeds go to help victims of the California wild fires.

The holidays are a lot merrier for Roger Burtraw from Johnston, knowing he is helping victims recover from the Camp Fire; the deadliest California wild-fire to date.

“It’s one of the things you hope the public and business can kind of rally around those people who have had an unfortunate situation with the wild fires,” Roger Burtraw said,

Last month, 1,500 miles away from Iowa, The Camp fire killed 88 people and destroyed more than 1,300 homes.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is headquartered in Northern California.

“Certainly, they had a lot of local businesses people they knew possibly even employees who were affected by this,” Burtraw said.

So, Sierra Nevada started a Camp Fire relief fund to help its neighbors rebuild.

“We want to help the people who some of their employees were devastated by this wild fire that swept through the Sierra Nevada’s, so they put this call out to all these breweries asking who wants to help,” owner of Confluence John Martin said.

Confluence made enough of the IPA beer to fill more than 2,000 pints and the owner estimates that will generate more than $10,000.

All the money will go to The Camp Fire relief fund.

Confluence can’t say how long it’ll take to go through all the beer, but it is on a list of a handful of other metro breweries who are participating in the fundraiser, Peace Tree has gone through two of their 16 kegs,

All the 1,000 breweries participating in the fundraiser used the same recipe.

The beers official name is the Resilience Butte County Proud IPA.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A horde of confident Iowa State Fans packed the Des Moines International Airport on Wednesday, waiting to catch one of the several charter flights to San Antonio for Friday’s Alamo Bowl; but is San Antonio ready for Cyclone nation to take over?

“No. no way!” said Howard Hill of Cambridge.

The hundreds of travelers in the airport are expected to become thousands when they get to Texas. ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard expects there to be 25,000 fans in the city for the game.

“I think it’s a testament to the die-hard and the loyalty to the university and we’re all just here to have fun and enjoy the success” said Marshall Mease of Johnston.

The powers that be must have known the ISU fans were ready for a good time, past the TSA checkpoint a Busch Light stand had been set up for flyers finding themselves a little thirsty after getting through security.

While lines were long, fans say they weren’t stressed, and it didn’t feel like a normal trip to the airport.

“This is a little different, in fact we all have something in common so we’re all just talking amongst ourselves about how excited we all are so it takes some of the stress away” said Mease.

But for Mease and the rest of the Cyclone faithful, the real excitement will start once the plane touches down.