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Readers Respond: Do vacations belong in the toolshed?

BY HBSDealer Staff

Loyalty programs are undisputably useful to retailers. But should the industry of the retailer have any bearing on the types of incentives offered?

In a poll earlier this week, HBSDealer asked its readers whether their company rewards customers with vacation incentives.

Respondents appeared to be somewhat split over whether this is a good idea for the lumber and hardware business.

The largest share — 49% — said "No. That's not our business."

However, 34% agreed that it was a "great way to build relationships with customers," and an additional 17% said "we're thinking about it."

There's still time to add your vote. Click here for the poll.

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Sears digs into Lampert’s pockets with new quarterly loss

BY HBSDealer Staff

Sears Holdings Corporation posted another quarterly loss in the second quarter — and it'll be borrowing an additional $300 million from CEO Edward Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, to help make up for it.

The loan is in addition to the $500 million it obtained in April, for which ESL Investments provided $125 million.

"We continue to face a challenging competitive environment and while we continue to focus on our overall profitability, including managing expenses, we reported a net loss for the second quarter," said Lampert. "We are encouraged by the year-over-year improvement in our Adjusted EBITDA and feel we are making progress in our transformation as we remain focused on our best stores, our best members and our best categories to drive our business and enhance the member experience."

Net sales for the quarter ended July 30 were down 8.8% to $5.7 billion last quarter, compared to $6.2 billion in the previous year's second quarter. Sears attributed the decrease primarily to a 5.2% decline in comparable store sales.

Net loss attributable to shareholders dropped to $395 million, compared to net income of $208 million in the year-ago period.

Meanwhile, comparable-store sales fell 7% at Sears stores and 3.3% at Kmart stores.

The company also continued its store closings streak with an additional 78 stores. The promise of more store closings in the retailer's future was implied, particularly with CFO Rob Schriesheim's mention of the soon-to-expire leases on hundreds of stores.

"As we move into the second half of 2016, we continue to explore alternatives for our Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard and Sears Home Services businesses by evaluating potential partnerships or other transactions," added Schriesheim.

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Marketing Magic: Maytag’s ‘No Smear Campaign’

BY HBSDealer Staff

Maytag is getting a little "meta" with its newest marketing campaign to promote its suite of smear- and fingerprint-resistant stainless steel appliances.

The "No Smear Campaign" is offering a Chrome plug-in that helps hide political smears online during the intensifying election cycle.

"Maytag prides itself on being a dependable American brand," says Brendan Bosch, Maytag senior brand manager. "We want Americans to be educated about the election, without being brought down and annoyed by negative smears. What better way for Maytag to lend our century-old dependability than helping rid Americans of smears online and in the kitchen?"

Maytag pointed to a recent survey it completed, which found that Americans are most annoyed by political smears on social media: half of those surveyed were angered or annoyed by this type of content, and 73% have unfollowed, blocked or hidden someone's posts as a result.

The plug-in will replace negative political content with something decidedly more upbeat.

Actress and comedian Abby Elliott will also help raise awareness for the plug-in and promote positivity during the election season.

"While this election has provided some entertaining and comedic moments, we all get a little tired when surrounded by too much negativity," says Elliott. "That's why I was excited to join with Maytag to bring a little more lighthearted and 'clean' conversation to the election."

Also assisting the effort was University of Michigan professor and political scientist Dr. Arthur Lupia, who helped with the back-end development of the plug-in to help minimize candidate or party preference.

Additionally, the landing page for the plug-in also leads to all official candidate pages to assist users who wish to educate themselves on their options.

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