8 insider facts about shopping at Walmart that all employees know

Don’t be afraid to ask to see the store’s clearance items.
Walmart store employees know all about the chain’s inner workings.Some shopping hacks, savings tips, and store policies might not be readily apparent to shoppers.Here’s a look at some insider tips from employees that you should know if you’re going to shop at Walmart.

Walmart stores are everywhere.

The retail chain reports that it currently operates 11,700 retail locations in 28 countries.

It’s safe to say that the 1.5 million Walmart employees in the US — as well as their eight million international colleagues — know a thing or two about the chain’s inner workings.

Whenever you’re preparing to go on a shopping spree, it pays to come in armed with as much information as you can get. That way, you can keep an eye out for the best possible deals and shopping strategies the next time you visit your local Walmart.

Walmart employees know all of the tricks of the trade, from how to spot mark-downs to finding clearance items in the store. They also know all about store policies that might not be immediately apparent to shoppers.

Here’s a look at a few tricks of the trade that only Walmart employees and long-time customers know about:

Clearance items aren’t always easy to find. So when you’re on the look out for deals, just ask for help.

"Over the course of the years, I’ve managed to find good deals because I looked and asked at the right times," a Reddit user who said they were a Walmart employee in 2016 wrote.

The employee described looking for electronics at their local Walmart. They asked the employee working in the electronics section to point out any clearance items. The Reddit user said they were "blown away with the deals I found. I saw Samsung tablets, GPS units, high-end external hard drives, and Bluetooth speakers."

Shoppers can also ask for a price match against a number of other retailers, including Amazon, Target, and Staples.

The store’s policy says, "if you find a lower price from an online retailer on an identical, in-stock product, tell us and we’ll match it."

How helpful is Walmart’s mobile app Savings Catcher?

Quora user and former Walmart employee Ward Miller wrote that customers shouldn’t "expect boatloads of money to come rolling in" from the app because "Walmart goes to a lot of work to maintain its competitive price points."

The mobile app doesn’t give shoppers cash back. It instead accrues store credits and dispenses e-gift cards that can be spent on Walmart’s website or in its stores.

"That being said, I paid for a $140 dehumidifier using nothing but Savings Catcher rewards," Miller wrote.

According to the site TipHero, sales prices ending in 7 are full-price, prices ending in 5 denote first markdowns, and prices ending in 1 indicate a final markdown.

Walmart employees can’t accept tips, as per the store’s official policy.

A Reddit user who said he was a Walmart employee in 2017 described receiving a tip from a shopper around the holiday season. He ended up turning the tip into an assistant manager.

Walmart employees are free to take advantage of the store’s deals on Black Friday.

But the shopping must be done when they’re on break or taking lunch or on their own time.

"Your breaks are short and the lines are long," Quora user and former Walmart employee Krystle Hannigan wrote. "You’re not honestly going to have enough time to shop until after your shift is over."

Quora user and former Walmart employee Alley McNally wrote that employees who work Thanksgiving and Black Friday can get a whopping 25% discount. The regular employee discount is 10%, and employees working on Thanksgiving and Black Friday "receive a voucher good for an additional 15% off of any one transaction," according to Cline.

She added that the voucher can be used on set days in early to mid-December.

"I did ring out an assistant manager one year who came through with three shopping carts filled to the brim," Cline wrote. "Her discount came to $1,100."

The days of blue and white shirts may be coming to an end for Walmart employees, so keep an eye out for name tags when you need assistance.

Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson reported that the chain is "testing a new dress code that allows employees to wear blue denim and shirts of any solid color."

"I personally love the new dress code — especially that we can wear any color," Angel Hernandez, an employee of a Walmart store in Springdale, Arkansas, told Business Insider.

So don’t be surprised if the employees are dressed a bit differently during your next Walmart run.

Walmart has a crime problem, Bloomberg reported in 2016. Reporters Shannon Pettypiece and David Voreacos found that in the city of Tulsa, police were called to Walmart stores 2,000 times in 2015. Compare that with 300 calls from Target stores.

One of Walmart’s attempts to combat the specific crime of shoplifting stirred controversy. CNBC reported that, in 2017, the chain dropped out of a program that had first-time shoplifters either pay to enroll in an educational program or face prosecution.

Quora user and former Walmart employee Michael Wolfe also shared some strategies the store uses to stop theft.

"Depending on the size of the store you could have a plain-clothes security person who is legally certified and authorized to make apprehensions," Wolfe wrote.

Walmart— not to mention other big box stores — are often dotted with a whole line of cash registers.

But sometimes only a handful are manned. The resulting bottlenecking leads to longer wait times and a frustrating experience for shoppers. Why can’t all the cash registers be staffed to prevent long lines?

That’s the question that a Reddit user asked a Walmart manager and 2017 AMA participant who said they’d been working at the store for two years.

The employee cited that a "lack of staff" and "mistakes in scheduling."

"As a manager, I spend a lot of time on a register myself trying to cut down lines but there are a lot of managers who won’t take it upon themselves to do that," the Walmart manager wrote.

Are you a current or former Walmart employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.

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That moment when cruise ships seem more like shopping malls. Carnival adds more on-board stores

Carnival is beefing up retail stores. (Carnival Cruise Line)

If shopping is one of your favorite pastimes, Carnival Cruise Line has something new in store for you.

The line says Horizon has "dramatically expanded retail offerings, now containing the widest variety of choices at sea."

Carnival Horizon, now sailing in Europe, has a two-story mall on Decks 4 and 5. Among the brands passengers will find aboard are Victoria’s Secret, jeweler Le Vian, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Breitling and Hublot.

Other shops include a beauty and fragrance bar, a sweets shop and a liquor and tobacco store with an extensive spirits display.

In addition to Horizon’s large retail area, Carnival has spent the last year revamping the shopping outlets on nearly half its fleet. Additional ships are set for makeovers during upcoming refurbishments.

Carnival Horizon departed April 2 from Barcelona on the first of four voyages from that port. The ship repositions to New York in May to launch a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures.

It will then shift to Miami for year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning in September.

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At Lehigh Valley commercial real estate event, an outlook on malls, pop-up shops and restaurants

A February 2014 file photo of the Phillipsburg Mall, whose owner is currently exploring alternatives for the property. (THE MORNING CALL FILE PHOTO)

It’s one of the scariest thoughts for a mall owner: What happens when my shopping center loses an anchor tenant?

Well, for one, it immediately leads to lost income and traffic. And, if you’re not careful, a ripple effect can occur, where the center’s other tenants flee. In only 18 months, a mall’s lineup of 100 tenants can dwindle to just 10 shops.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened to a 1.3-million-square-foot regional mall in Pennsylvania that was built in the 1970s and is now a client of Hanna Langholz Wilson Ellis, a commercial real estate brokerage firm in Pittsburgh. Jon Knudsen, the firm’s director of retail leasing, declined to name the shopping mall, but he said the shuttering of one of its anchors triggered a host of additional closures.

Changing a shopping center’s narrative before it gets to that point was just one aspect of Knudsen’s presentation Thursday at the Lehigh Valley Commercial Real Estate Outlook and Awards, an event held at the Holiday Inn in Breinigsville that attracted more than 600 real estate officials. Knudsen was one of several experts who participated in the outlook’s main event focused on reinventing retail, an industry going through monumental changes as consumer preferences shift and online shopping continues to grow at a blistering pace. Other speakers focused on the proliferation of pop-up shops, particularly in Allentown, and the idea of restaurants as the new anchor tenant.

Knudsen’s presentation was particularly relevant, given the downsizing in brick-and-mortar retail amid a drastically overstored U.S. shopping climate. Earlier this week, in fact, Reuters reported two U.S. mall owners are attempting to acquire bankrupt department store chain The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., determined to save a significant tenant of theirs while protecting the value of their malls.

But not all retailers can be saved, and landlords need to have a plan in place to reposition the shopping center once an anchor is lost, Knudsen said. Following a property evaluation, he said an owner needs to take a look at the market the shopping center is located in to gauge what the local area needs and what opportunities exist. From there, Knudsen said, a landlord needs to create a new narrative around the shopping center.

“Anything you can do to kick the narrative of vacancy is the most important investment you make,” he said.

For example, when the 1.4-million-square-foot Monroeville Mall — about 13 miles east of Pittsburgh — lost its Dick’s Sporting Goods, Knudsen said they were able to create an exterior entrance and fill the space with a go-kart track.

Entertainment options, such as a go-kart track, are just one of the non-traditional uses malls are examining today. In addition, Knudsen said, malls are filling spaces with medical tenants, gyms and even churches. Some also are looking at redevelopment, considering knocking down their boxes and opting for residential, medical or storage purposes. If all else fails, Knudsen said, a sale is often explored.

In fact, the owner of the ailing Phillipsburg Mall, on the border of Pohatcong and Lopatcong townships in New Jersey, said in February they were exploring a redevelopment, sale or joint venture at the shopping center following the loss of yet another anchor.

Pop-up shops

One segment that’s doing well is experiential retail, of which pop-up shops are included, according to Natalia Stezenko, retail leasing and activation manager for City Center Allentown.

City Center has brought several pop-up shops to downtown Allentown, which start as short-term stores that Stezenko said help “bring life” to what might otherwise be an empty space in the city’s relatively young retail scene. An example includes the YWCA’s Perfect Fit Pop-Up Boutique in Three City Center, which sells gently used clothes, purses and accessories and recently signed a long-term lease with City Center.

In addition, the Truffle Bar occupies a 417-square-foot space in a street-level suite in Strata East on North 6th St., where the business sells handmade truffles.

Stezenko described the pop-up shops as a win-win.

From the retailer’s perspective, she said it gives the business a chance to connect with its customers and build awareness. Those businesses often range from an Etsy merchant trying to grow their customer base to online retailers testing the brick-and-mortar waters. In either case, Stezenko noted the pop-up shop option is often a cheaper way for a retailer to test out a concept, especially when compared to jumping right into a long-term lease.

And from a landlord’s perspective, landing a pop-up shop can provide additional income and fill a vacant storefront, reducing potential vandalism or squatting in the process. In addition, those pop-up shops can eventually turn into long-term tenants.

“It can revitalize a local area, like we’re doing in Allentown,” she said.

Food for thought

Another segment doing well — one described as vital to retail by TCH Development Principal Timothy Harrison — is the restaurant business.

Harrison would know, as TCH partnered with The Goldenberg Group to construct the 565,000-square-foot Hamilton Crossings shopping center in Lower Macungie Township.

In today’s world, Harrison noted, brick-and-mortar retailers are investing heavily in information technology to boost their online selling platforms. Meanwhile, the brick-and-mortar retailers who can’t afford to do that are buried under a mountain of debt, hindering their ability to adapt and forcing them out of business. So with traditional retailers redirecting investments away from physical storefronts, Harrison said it’s crucial that retail projects today offer a unique and compelling experience.

“Experiential development is the way forward,” Harrison said to the room of real estate officials, by this time munching on the platter of cookies on their tables. “Restaurants can become the experiential anchors in a retail project.”

Harrison believes they succeeded in that regard at Hamilton Crossings. For example, he said, they chose restaurants in six to eight industry segments, avoiding duplication and potential cannibalization. They also chose experienced operators on solid financial footing.

“We positioned our restaurants carefully,” he said, adding the presence of a diversified group of restaurants enhances the quality of the shopping center.

But don’t just take his word for it, Harrison told the audience in making his way to a shameless plug.

“If you haven’t yet visited Hamilton Crossings, please go see for yourself,” he said.

Awards

At the end of the event, the 2018 Commercial Real Estate Development (CRED) Awards were announced:

The CRED Community Development Award was given to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 375 for their new headquarters at 101 S. Seventh St. in Allentown.Cityline Construction received the CRED Adaptive Reuse Award for the company’s conversion of a former St. Luke’s University Health Network information technology building in Fountain Hill into 22 luxury apartments.The CRED Vision Award went to Moravian College for their conversion of the Bethlehem 24/7 Racquetball Club into its Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center.

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Man may find a new kidney thanks to a shopping visit to Costco

A man in need of a kidney may find a new organ thanks to a recent shopping trip to Costco, Yahoo Lifestyle is reporting.

We came across this man at Costco and we asked him about his shirt. He said he has been looking for a donor for four years and still nothing. Please do me a favor and RT this. For more info about him DM me. pic.twitter.com/yHfDJGMw50

— kxrn🦋 (@_kerrrn_) March 28, 2018

Robert Duran, who has been looking for a donor for the last four years, was wearing a T-shirt that read "Kidney donor needed. Type B+. Ask me how” — and now a curious teenager has taken up his cause.

An 18-year-old girl saw him in the pet food aisle at the Costco in Phoenix, Ariz. and is helping him crowdsource an organ through social media.

Robert Duran was shopping in the pet aisle of the Costco store in Phoenix, Ariz., when an 18-year-old took interest in helping him find a kidney donor. (Google View)

The teenager posted photos of Duran and tweeted about how they met and his story. She wrote in her post, “Please do me a favor and RT this,” she urged. “For more info about him DM me.”

As a result of the teen’s efforts, 150 people replied within one day, identifying themselves as having a B positive blood type and willing to determine if they’re a match.

The girl has been able to screen and pull together those who seem legitimately interested, and is in touch with them privately.

Others in recent years have taken to social media to find organ donors. Jennen Johnson, a 42-year-old mother who advertised for a kidney transplant on Facebook, succeeed in her quest.

Johnson’s case got the attention of the National Kidney Foundation. “We want people to consider social media as another option, in addition to getting on the donor list,” the foundation’s Vice President Jen Martin told Yahoo Lifestyle.

As for Duran’s case, the 18-year-old Good Samaritan is encouraging people who may not be a match, but want to help, to visit a gofundme page she created to help with his medical expenses and dialysis treatment.

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Online shopping at Overstock gets easier with AR functionality in its app

overstock arcore ar

If you thought it was hard to visualize a new couch in your living room while standing in front of said couch at Ikea was hard, then it was probably nearly impossible to visualize any piece of new furniture in your home simply by looking at a photo. Sure, online shopping is much more convenient than going to brick-and-mortar stores, but when it comes to actually purchasing pieces that look as good in real life as they do on the web, things get a bit dicier. Now, Overstock is trying to solve that problem. This week, the online shopping network introduced augmented reality to its Overstock app for Android, now powered by Google’s ARCore technology. Folks can now take advantage of the AR experience directly from the app and check out thousands of true-to-life-size 3D models in high resolution in their bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else.

While Overstock has boasted AR functionality for its iOS app ever since the ARKit launch last September, this marks the first time that Android users will be able to enjoy the same experience. With the introduction of ARCore, augmented reality technology has been made readily available to more than 100 million Android devices.

“We have invested significant resources into cutting-edge tech, like augmented reality, to make sure shoppers have the best possible experience,” Amit Goyal, senior vice president of software engineering at Overstock, said in a statement. “This technology brings thousands of products directly to our customers’ living rooms. In a matter of minutes, they can search thousands of furniture pieces, see how they look in their space, purchase the one they want, and have it delivered to their home — on one mobile app.”

Using the app should be quite straightforward. You can search for any of the thousands of products sold on Overstock, including furniture, rugs, home goods, decor. Place these knick-knacks in an AR environment next to your own belongings to see how the size, texture, and colors mesh with your overall design aesthetic. And if you want a second opinion, you can share photos of your AR design either through direct messages or social media. For maximum efficiency, you can also add products to your cart or purchase pieces with Android Pay, all while staying within AR View.

“Overstock’s mission is to leverage technology to make the online shopping experience easier and more enjoyable,” Overstock President Saum Noursalehi said in a statement. “With AR and advancements in machine learning, soon you will be able to completely decorate your home in an AR environment through simple communication with artificial intelligence that understands interior design.”

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Chaminade acquires shopping center near campus in West Hills for $14 million

Chaminade acquired a shopping center near campus. (Mark Holtzman / West Coast Aerial Photography)

West Hills Chaminade has acquired a shopping center near its high school campus off Saticoy Street and Woodlake Avenue for $14 million, school president Rob Webb said Thursday. The 4.8-acre parcel is one of last in the area that has not been developed for residential use. It currently contains 16 businesses.

No final decision has been made about what the school will do with the land, but it could be used for parking, more classrooms and additional facilities.

“For us, yesterday we were a debt-free organization,” Webb said. “Today we aren’t. A big chunk came from capital reserves. It’s an exciting time. Schools are landlocked in this neighborhood and for us to find a parcel that became available for the first time in 50 years is transformational.”

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Céline selling plastic shopping bag for $590

One person’s trash is most certainly another’s treasure at Céline, as the French fashion house is selling a logo-stamped “shopper bag” for a staggering $590.

Featuring handle straps and “keep away from children” warnings in four languages, The New York Post reports the transparent bag first made headlines last year when it appeared on the Paris catwalk. The supermarket-like tote is now for sale at the Céline x Nordstrom pop-up in downtown Seattle through May 29.

“Céline can make anything chic,” fashion blogger Andrea Lubin wrote, sharing a photo of the bag filled with fruit and a wallet, evidently at a grocery store.

Meanwhile, one Twitter user didn’t quite agree, citing the bag as a “sign that the end is near.”

“Fashionistas are going crazy over this plastic Céline bag and I think it’s horrible,” @Myrnz added, sharing a photo of the tote out and about.

Believe it or not, this is not the first time that Nordstrom has stuck a sky-high price tag on a item otherwise known to be free — the fashion giant made headlines in 2016 for selling a leather-wrapped rock for $85. In similarly ridiculous sartorial news, Moschino made waves earlier this year for sending a $730 see-through dry-cleaning dress down the runway, hanger included.

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This little-known service at Walmart lets you order groceries online and pick them up in-store for hassle-free shopping

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Walmart
I hate grocery shopping, so I’ve been on the hunt for services that make the process less of an annoyance If you want fresh food without having to deal with lines or committing so much time, you should be using Walmart Grocery. You can buy your food online or in the Walmart app and then pick it up from your local Walmart store. Plus, they’ll load your car for you.

Every week, I subconsciously start a new internal countdown. One day until I run out of pasta, two or three if I really skimp on my cereal before I absolutely have to stop and buy milk.

Maybe it’s the packed, too-small grocery stores nearby me or the mindless, (and yet) compulsory activity, but I hate grocery shopping. And I definitely hate heading there knowing I’ll just be lugging all the items that I buy 12 blocks back to my apartment.

Considering that there are entire services dedicated to making this process easier, I can’t be the only one who hates the chore of grocery shopping.

Enter Walmart.

The chain has recently undergone a bit of a facelift to remain competitive with an increasingly digitized commercial landscape. What that means for the average shopper is more options and better deals. In terms of food shopping, it means Walmart Grocery, which allows you to order groceries online and pick them up in-store at your own convenience.

Simply go online or use the app to create an account, order fresh groceries, and reserve a time to grab them from your local Walmart. They’ll even load your car for you.

You can select same day pick-up or schedule your order up to a week in advance. The only requirement is that you have to hit a $30 minimum.

To place an order, enter your zip code so it can find your local stores, choose which one you want to pick your groceries up from, and pick your items. An unexpected bonus is that using the site makes it easier to price compare, take advantage of weekly coupons, and shop food by departments rather than walking aisles or waiting in line at the deli. Walmart even creates a "Best Sellers in Your Area" section, where you can select popular local choices. Once you’re done, you can pre-pay online and reserve your pick-up time.

Use the app or go online to order fresh groceries, choose a time slot for same-day pickup, and then drive to your local Walmart. They’ll even load your car for you.

Use the app or go online to order fresh groceries, choose a time slot for same-day pickup, and then drive to your local Walmart. They’ll even load your car for you.Walmart

Once you’ve used the service, your account remembers things you’ve already bought and lets you keep a "reorder list" for quick, easy refill of your everyday essentials.

Whether you’re looking for ways to avoid the sugared cereal and toy aisle fights with your kids while shopping or just want to take back more of your Sunday afternoons, Walmart is making that easier than ever with this online order and in-store pickup. You can still get fresh food, and you don’t have to wander around any aisles bored and trying to find the peanut butter. You can shop from your own past grocery list, and you can reorder your favorites with one touch. Instead of a couple hours, grocery shopping can take 15 minutes.

Order your groceries online and pick them up at your local Walmart here

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider’s Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

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Do’s and don’ts when using shopping apps

This Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, photo shows applications on an iPhone clockwise from top left, Target, Amazon, Sephora, JCPenny, Walmart, in New York. Retailers such as Target and Amazon are embracing mobile applications to help consumers save money and time with features like digital wallets and augmented reality. (Jenny Kane/Associated Press)

Retailers such as Target and Amazon are embracing mobile applications to help consumers save money and time with features like digital wallets and augmented reality. When used strategically, apps can streamline in-store trips and online purchases, but shoppers could also find that convenience comes with a risk: impulsive decisions and overspending.

“Now shopping can be anytime, anywhere, multiple times a day, which is great for customers who value convenience,” said Casey Taylor, a partner in the Atlanta office of Bain and Company, a management consulting firm. “But for customers on a budget, what I would share as the primary caution is that it makes it very easy — almost too easy.”

Here’s how to get the most out of retail apps, while avoiding the downsides.

DON’T ENABLE NOTIFICATIONS

Push notifications — alerts that pop up on your phone — and emails tend to “catch people at vulnerable moments,” enticing them to spend money on things they otherwise wouldn’t, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, a market research company.

Data show that 9.6 times more users make a purchase when an app sends a promotional push notification compared with those who didn’t receive one, according to Leanplum, a mobile marketing platform. Notifications also increase the amount an average shopper spends 16 percent.

A quick fix: Turn off notifications in the app or your device’s settings and opt out of retailers’ emails if they’re too tempting to resist overspending.

DO MAKE A SHOPPING LIST

Take inventory and make a list of what you need. Shopping lists can deter impulse purchases by keeping specific merchandise top-of-mind. Most retailer apps make it easy to view and edit lists on your device.

For example, the app for Kohl’s enables shoppers to set a budget , and then automatically deducts the price of each item on the list. Other merchants, like The Home Depot, include maps or aisle numbers to help customers track down products on their lists at local stores.

DON’T KEEP PAYMENT INFORMATION ON FILE

Although storing shipping and billing information speeds up the checkout process, it can also smooth the way for frivolous purchases. Researchers have found that compared with cash, behind-the-scenes payment methods make shoppers feel detached from their money — and more likely to spend.

“Now with technologies where you can just use your fingerprint, or you just take a photo of your credit card, it makes payment incredibly simple,” Taylor said.

Instead, enter payment information each time, rather than saving credit card numbers or linking to a PayPal account. The extra step makes the exchange of money feel more real.

At the very least, “take a breath before tapping ‘checkout’ to make sure that your purchase is as much about you really needing that item versus the fact that the shopping experience has become more entertaining and has become very easy,” Taylor said.

DO USE YOUR CAMERA

Use the camera feature within apps to read product details and customer reviews.

“It allows you to have a greater usage of knowledge of what those products you’re purchasing can do,” Cohen said.

Some apps surface product information when an item’s bar code is scanned with the camera. Beauty retailer Sephora’s app incorporates augmented reality, which allows shoppers to virtually try on makeup products and colors as they look into their device’s camera.

As well, cameras can summon savings: Snap a picture of your receipt in Walmart’s app, and its Savings Catcher tool will match a competitor’s lower advertised price — even after your purchase. Walmart refunds the difference on an electronic gift card. Target’s app checks for manufacturer coupons and in-store deals on scanned items.

DON’T FOCUS ON ONE RETAILER

Through exclusive offers and built-in loyalty programs, “individual retailers’ shopping apps intend to lock-in shoppers,” Jie Zhang, professor of marketing at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, said in an email. For example, the wallet feature on the J.C. Penney app lets shoppers see and redeem rewards, coupons and gift cards in one place.

But using only one retailer’s app could mean missing out on opportunities to save money.

“Yeah, there might be a 20 percent-off sale, but it could be really easy to go get 35 percent off somewhere else for the same exact product,” Cohen said.

Use a price comparison tool, like ShopSavvy or Google Shopping, to locate the best price across multiple merchants.

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Lauren Schwahn is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.

NerdWallet: How to create a budget

https://nerd.me/create-budget

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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When San Jose market’s raw meat supply comes by stacked shopping cart, time to investigate

When Loretta Seto stopped at 99 Ranch Market for a few barbecue supplies from the San Jose, California, business, she never expected to see what she did: raw meat being transported to the store in Costco shopping carts.

“Talk about disgusting! I’m usually OK with sticking the kids in the seat of the basket, but this is a whole new level of gross. Beware,” she wrote in a Facebook post. As of Saturday afternoon, the post had been shared more than 1,000 times.

" … this is a whole new level of gross. Beware."

– Loretta Seto

A representative for 99 Ranch Market responded to Seto’s post in the comment section. "We are taking the necessary steps to resolve this issue by investigating this case further and filing a complaint against our vendor,” the representative wrote, according to a local NBC affiliate, which also identified the meat vendor as Jim’s Farm Meats in Winton

While it’s not yet clear why shopping carts were used to transport the meat, the carts most likley came from the Costco warehouse across the street from the market, according to SFGate.

In response, The Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health is now investigating the incident, according to Fox 8.

Jim’s Farm Meats and 99 Ranch Market did not immediately return Fox News’ request for additional comment.

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EBay CEO: Get used to shopping with your voice

As retail is getting personal, shoppers are also adapting to ordering items online with voice technology — no keyboard required.

"The way humans interface with computers is changing fast," eBay Chief Executive Officer Devin Wenig told CNBC Tuesday from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "It’s moving from text to images and voice."

Wenig said his company has been spending "a lot of time" to rally behind the movement toward voice shopping. EBay is already partnering with Google, where users can shop ebay.com, among other retailer’s websites, via their Home devices.

"I don’t think the world will be in … [Amazon] Alexa or Google Home," he added. "That will be one way people shop, and there will be many others."

Many major retailers including Target and Walmart are also partnering with Google (their websites can be shopped via Google Home), which is in a constant battle with Amazon to win over brands. Meanwhile, Amazon is touting more private-label lines, such as Wickedly Prime and Mama Bear, through its Echo devices.

The argument for voice shopping has been it creates a faster and more seamless shopping experience for consumers. To be sure, it’s taken years for Google and Amazon to try to perfect the process, and there remains room for improvement.

A query for "peanut butter" using Amazon’s Alexa platform, for example, could result in your Echo device reading off — search result by search result — all the brands available on Amazon.com, and negligible details about each one. It’s not exactly time-saving. Shopping for apparel using voice is also tricky unless a shopper can visualize those items.

According to a new report from consulting group Capgemini, roughly 25 percent of respondents would prefer using a voice assistant to shop today over a website. Within the next three years, though, that percentage jumps to 40 percent.

"Conversational Commerce, consumer purchase of products and services via voice assistants such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri, will revolutionize how consumers and brands interact in ways not witnessed since the dawn of e-Commerce," said Mark Taylor. Capgemini’s chief experience officer.

"It promises to be a curator of services and experiences that intelligently meet needs and engage consumers emotionally — anytime, anywhere," he added.

For the most part, consumers still use their voice-activated devices today to seek information ("Alexa, what’s the weather?") or play music. But retailers are looking to change that, with purchases using voice of electronics, apparel and groceries on the rise.

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Online grocery shopping is revolutionizing supermarkets

The retailer wants delivery drivers to bring groceries right into your fridge–even when you’re not home.

Time

(Photo: Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Because of people like Sarah Fracek, the supermarket industry is undergoing its own digital revolution.

It’s all because Fracek has become one of a growing number of consumers who conduct almost all of their grocery shopping online.

“I hate going into a grocery store,” said Fracek, 34, a Wauwatosa, Wis., resident who doesn’t mind spending a few extra dollars to have someone else assemble her grocery order and either deliver it or have it ready for her to pick up.

“I’m working super late, and I really value the time that I have that’s ‘me’ time,” she said.

A tech-savvy, time-starved population, led by folks like Fracek in the 18 to 35 age group, has catapulted digital grocery shopping into the fastest-growing segment in U.S. retail.

Costco rolls out two grocery delivery services to fight growing competition from Amazon and Wal-Mart. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters Newslook

“This is no longer something to just keep an eye on,” says the Food Marketing Institute, a retail food trade group based in Arlington, Va. “It’s happening, and it’s habituating very large numbers of people very quickly to online-only providers and to the online channel for groceries.”

The organization has been surveying trends in the industry for 40 years. Its latest survey, released this month, describes growth the likes of which it doesn’t ever expect to see again: In 2017, 43% of millennials surveyed said they shop online for groceries at least occasionally — a 50% jump from 2016, with much of the growth coming among those who say they shop for groceries online “either fairly often or all the time.”

The phenomenon has attracted the likes of Costco, Walmart and Target. And it is not necessarily bad for conventional grocery stores, which are moving quickly and aggressively into the digital marketplace.

Milwaukee-based Sendik’s Food Markets introduced online grocery service in the fall of 2015.

“Research will tell you it is the fastest-growing form of all retail by leaps and bounds, far surpassing electronics and all other components of the online space,” said Mark Birmingham, vice president of administration and development for the company.

“The rate of adoption over the last 12 to 18 months — I think it’s growing faster than anybody expected,” Birmingham said. “It is the fastest-growing part of our business."

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer, which expanded into the Milwaukee area in 2015, says its online food business has grown rapidly.

The company said Wednesday it is on pace to see more than a million deliveries made from its stores by year-end.

Online customers typically pay a fee for the gathering and/or delivery of their groceries. The prices and structures of the services vary among retailers. An example: At Woodman’s, the fee for gathering and delivering an order is $9.95. If you decide you want to pick up your order and it’s under $100, the fee is $4.95. If you want to pick up your online order and it’s over $100, there is no fee, according to the company’s website.

“People want to do it, and they are willing to pay a little bit more for the service,” said Clint Woodman, president of Janesville-based Woodman’s. “We’re seeing good growth. We are looking at expanding our delivery area.”

The Milwaukee-based Roundy’s division of Kroger, the big Cincinnati-based supermarket chain, is continuing to roll out its ClickList e-commerce program at stores in Wisconsin, said spokesman James Hyland.

“Today’s customers want an in-store option and a digital option for their grocery shopping needs,” Hyland said.

Online service also can help smaller grocery operators grow.

“We look at it as a way of expanding our trade area without having to build more stores,” said Darlene Murphy, director of marketing for Metcalfe’s Market, which has has stores in Wisconsin.

Food producers also are watching the situation closely.

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and founder of Chobani yogurt, sees it as a kind of throwback, especially for products like his company’s.

“I see the milkman coming back, I really do, for fresh food,” Ulukaya said. “You wake up and go to the door and there’s your milk and cheese. It’s coming back to what it was in the early days.”

Digital grocery shopping essentially has been a phenomenon waiting to happen, with the industry finally catching up to the demands of younger consumers, said Jim Hertel, senior vice president of Willard Bishop, a Chicago-area food retail and production consultancy that is part of Inmar Analytics.

“Millennials are just online all the time,” Hertel said. “Now that they are forming households, it’s less about their adopting online and it’s more that they are shopping for food and doing it the way they would normally do anything, which is online.”

Fracek started using the online grocery service Peapod six years ago and places an order nearly every Sunday.

“If someone can pick out the things that I want, it’s a waste of time for me to go,” she said. “I would rather be doing something I enjoy.

“I still run into the store, but usually it’s when I haven’t planned ahead. I’ll run in to get stuff for one meal — odds and ends.”

Buying groceries online has proven to be a blessing “for someone working crazy hours and doesn’t want to go to the grocery store when you’re getting done with work at 8 p.m.,” Fracek said.

Quality still matters

For grocers, online or in person, the quality has to be the same, FMI’s survey says.

“Shoppers most often cite high-quality fruits and vegetables and high-quality meat among the attributes considered important when selecting a primary store,” the survey says. “Low prices come in right after that.”

Consumers also want to know where their food comes from and how it was produced.

“Millennial shoppers especially want to support companies that share their values and prioritize a broader good,” according to the FMI survey.

While younger adults are driving the change, the online food business transcends generations, said Birmingham, the Sendik’s executive. Seniors and those who can’t navigate store aisles so well anymore are adopting online grocery shopping.

Added Hertel, the grocery consultant: “The smart supermarket operators are recognizing that as consumers change, they are going to engage with food not any less but very differently in terms of how they order it, what they are looking to consume and how far along on the preparation continuum they are willing to go.

“I do think it’s going to be really hard to recognize the traditional supermarket five years from now,” he said.

James B. Nelson of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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Smart Shopping Tips That Will Save You Money

No matter what you are shopping for, you can most likely save money simply by implementing a few tips and tricks. Check out some of these money-saving suggestions to cut back on your expenses the next time you buy something online or at the store:

1. Make sure you really need the item. Before you make a purchase, stop to ask yourself whether or not you really need the item that you are buying. For instance, if you are getting ready to buy a new power tool for a project, think about whether you could save money by renting it or borrowing it from someone else instead. If you see something at the grocery store that catches your eye, ask yourself if it is a necessity or if it is an impulse buy. Scrutinizing your choices can help you avoid making unnecessary purchases.

2. Shop around and compare prices. Prices can vary quite a bit from one store to the next. The Internet has made it easier than ever to compare prices. Check a few different stores before deciding where to buy an item. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of shipping if you are planning on ordering online.

3. Take advantage of coupons. Most retailers offer coupons in one form or another. You can either cut out or print paper coupons to take with you to the store or you can use online promo codes or coupon codes during the checkout process. Either way, before you make any type of purchase, do a quick search to see if there is a coupon available that can save you money.

These simple shopping tips can help you significantly cut back on your expenses. Not only are they easy to implement but they can also have a positive impact on your finances.

Connecticut tax-free shopping week begins Sunday

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s sales-tax-free week kicks off this weekend as parents and students get ready for the new school year.

The 17th annual tax holiday begins Sunday and runs through Saturday. Most clothing and footwear priced under $100 will be exempt from Connecticut’s sales tax of 6.35 percent.

Officials say the state will lose an estimated $4 million in tax revenue during the week.

State Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan says the tax holiday offers an important break for families, and many stores also will be offering back-to-school discounts.

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Shopping for Floor Lamps

Floor lamps are often supporting players in a room, rather than the stars of a space. But even if they go unnoticed, they are essential to creating the right atmosphere.

“They offer nice ambient light that you cannot achieve just with overhead lighting,” said Victoria Hagan, an interior designer in New York. “I use them on every single project.”

When designing homes for her clients — many of which will be included in her book “Victoria Hagan: Dream Spaces,” published this fall by Rizzoli — she uses floor lamps in a variety of ways.

“Some are lower, which is great for reading,” with shades that direct light down to an armchair, she said. “Then there are taller floor lamps that I use in a sculptural way.” Still others have long arms that cantilever over sofas to illuminate whole seating areas.

“There are so many different kinds,” Ms. Hagan said. “You just have to know which move you want to make.”

• How much of the floor will the lamp occupy? “Some have a huge base and are very clunky, which defeats the whole purpose,” Ms. Hagan said. “I like it when they don’t take up a lot of space.”

• Does the lamp have the right light intensity and temperature? “If you’re in the market for a reading lamp,” Ms. Hagan said, “you need to go see it in person.”

• How does it work with the other light fixtures in the room? “I always like to mix different layers of lighting,” she said, with multiple fixtures that can be used together.

Japanese-inspired lamp with terrazzo-like base by Ross Cassidy | $299 at CB2: 800-606-6252 or cb2.com

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Metal lamp with brass-capped feet | $198 at Anthropologie: 800-309-2500 or anthropologie.com

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Lamp with brass finish and two milk glass shades by Bower | $399 at West Elm: 888-922-4119 or westelm.com

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Lamp with polycarbonate shade by GamFratesi | $835 at FontanaArte: 212-334-3295 or fontanaarte.com

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Height-adjustable LED lamp with aluminum head by Daniel Rybakken | $1,410 at Luceplan: 212-334-1809 or luceplan.com

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The Top Benefits Of Online Shopping

The following are some of the major reasons why people choose online shopping. The majority of people browse popular online e-commerce sites after searching for particular keywords through a search engine. Although there are some disadvantages to shopping online, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

Are you online shopper? Are any of the following benefits the reasons why you prefer this option?

Better Prices

The majority of online stores offer products and services at prices that are not as expensive than their brick and mortar counterparts. There are a few reasons for this. One reason is that shop owners understand that online shoppers are looking for a bargain. As a result, these shop owners are more willing to slightly lower their profit margins so they can attract more customers to their stores.

More Variety

Physical stores have limited storage for items. This means that they can only have a limited supply of items on hand at one time. There may even be policies in place regarding the availability of certain products. For example, some stores may only offer a certain product for store that are located in malls.

On the other hand, online shopping gives shoppers access to items that they may not be able to find in the physical store. You also have the option to order products that would not normally go together like quilts and golf tees.

Convenience

This is a very convenient way to shop for the items you want and need. You do not have to get dressed to get products from your favorite store. You can order anything you need from the comfort of your home. This means that you do not have to wait until the store open or fear the store will be closed before you get off work.

Online shopping offer these benefits and more. As technology becomes more advanced, so will shopping options for shoppers.

How to save time and money food shopping

With a greater of selection of food markets, specialty stores and bulk discounters comes greater efficiency and cost savings for shoppers.

However, sometimes the reverse is true.

"It’s a very competitive environment for groceries, which is great news for shoppers," said Tobie Stanger, a senior editor at Consumer Reports. "That competition drives down prices."

But on the flip side, now it’s not unusual to do your shopping at not only the grocery store but the farmers’ market, warehouse club and big-box retailer, too — all in a typical week. Each month, 68 percent of Americans shop at least five different types of food retailers, according to the Hartman Group, a consulting firm for the food industry.

That has also taken a toll on the one-size-fits all supermarket. "Remember A&P? It was around for more than 150 years, but closed in 2015," Stanger said.

Now the stores that fare the best are so-called premium stores such as Wegmans, specialty stores like Trader Joe’s and discounters such as Idaho-based WinCo, the ratings magazine said.

In fact, Wegmans has held the top spot among all food retailers since 2006, according to a Consumer Reports subscriber poll, thanks to its competitive prices, prepared foods, healthy options and customer service.

But making one to Wegmans run for ready-to-cook meals, another to Trader Joe’s for Two Buck Chuck and a third stop at Costco for paper towels, along with all of the impulse items along the way, can strain any household budget, not to mention the time wasted food shopping.

To curb the added costs of this new way of buying food with multiple stops, Stanger recommends sticking strictly to a list, enrolling in store loyalty programs to get the best prices and shopping at quieter times, such as a Monday or Tuesday night, so you can move faster through the stores.

Added bonus: Some items are cheaper mid-week, when stores want to clear their inventories. For example, beer is 9 percent cheaper on Monday than it is on Saturday, according to discount app Ibotta. A win-win.

"On the Money" airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.

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Mall offers ‘Man Pods’ for men who hate shopping

A mall is offering "Man Pods" to despairing husbands and boyfriends that don’t like shopping. Buzz60’s Maria Mercedes Galuppo (@mariamgaluppo) has more.

The failure rate for businesses has dropped by more than 30% since 1977, according to a report from Case Western. That’s good news, but more than 50% of all new businesses still fail within their first year and by 10 years, more than 96% will have failed.

The fact remains: Starting a company is hard. Really hard. Most people with an idea do nothing more than talk about it, and even entrepreneurs who pursue their passion usually fail.

Day jobs are easy. If you have one, you may want to think twice before leaving to start your own business. But if you do leave, make sure you have more than enough money to finance your family and your business. The general rule of homebuilding also applies to company building: make a budget, double it, then double it again—that is roughly half the amount you need.

The vast majority of business owners started their companies because they loved their industry and believed they could provide a great product or service. Passion is important and sexy, but boring financing is equally important. Businesses need working capital to grow and to cover cash flow fluctuations. The problem is that most entrepreneurs I know hate raising money. It can be frustrating and the consequences of making a wrong choice are severe.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a few things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur and investor that can help you find the right financial partner to get the capital you need:

Your best financial partner is staring at you every time you brush your teeth in the morning. I have received lots of pushback on this, but I still firmly believe that you shouldn’t take a penny of someone else’s money until you have put every penny you can afford into your business. Building a new company should be about putting in absolutely everything. And by that, I mean not just blood, sweat, and tears. I mean your own money, to the point that you are (moderately) uncomfortable. Personal loans, personal credit cards, and home equity loans also fall into this category, and sometimes these come with surprisingly low interest which makes them smart financial decisions regardless of whether you can get a traditional business loan. Some would say to never leverage yourself in this way, but smart entrepreneurs have found great rates and terms that make good economic sense. But beware: introductory rates, for example, are great, so long as you refinance them before the rate expires.

The latest Private Capital Access report, a joint project between Pepperdine University and Dun & Bradstreet, showed that the most successful type of financing comes from friends and family. Some say that borrowing from friends and family is unwise, but again, I disagree. I always tell entrepreneurs that after putting in everything you have, you should go to your mom and dad, then your grandmother, then your friends. If your kids have a piggy bank, consider an investment in their future. Then take a deep breath and feel that weight on your shoulders. For me, there is nothing more frightening than losing my mom’s money. If her money is in my business, everyone else’s will be much safer.

The Private Capital report showed that the most common source of business credit is still a traditional bank. Banks are a common source of capital but a really difficult one: The overall success rate to get a bank loan was only 39% in the first quarter of 2017. This means that the majority of companies that seek a bank loan do not receive them. If your company has the type of history and balance sheet that is attractive to banks, by all means take advantage. But not all business loans are the same so make sure you don’t have a personal guarantee or your “business loan” will be nothing more than a personal loan in disguise.

There are great alternatives to bank financing, some of which may surprise you. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and other community lenders have many attractive options, especially for women and minorities. Online lenders can provide a fast, convenient option for early loans, although there may be a steep price for that convenience so choose carefully. Crowdfunding is another alternative source. Appealing directly to potential customers for financing has made several upstarts wildly successful, and tens of thousands more have reached more moderate goals. Yet 61% of business owners surveyed in the Private Capital report say they don’t understand how alternative financing works. If you have a company that needs capital, make it your business to learn more.

Many entrepreneurs think that attaining venture capital is the ultimate goal of a startup. It can be a great source of capital for some, especially highflying technology companies. But be warned and wary: venture is hard to come by and is expensive. Raising venture capital also requires an eventual sale. If you try the venture route, plan for at least a nine-month process and seek introductions to as many VCs as possible. The most important thing to remember is that you’re looking for a partner, not just a loan. Venture capital is expensive capital, but what makes it worthwhile is to partner with other brilliant minds who can help you avoid entrepreneurial pitfalls.

Jeff Stibel is the Vice Chairman of Dun & Bradstreet and a Partner of Bryant Stibel. He is the USA Today bestselling author of Breakpoint and Wired for Thought. Follow him on Twitter at @stibel.

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