Oh Christmas Tree… Prices

Oh Christmas Tree… Prices

December 16, 2019

Christmas tree prices remain high for the third straight year, with today’s shopper paying about twice what was charged in 2014.

While prices vary by location, the average is currently around $76 nationwide.  Fewer trees were planted during the recession of 2008, and since it takes about a decade for the trees to mature, the shortfall is being felt now.

To further exacerbate the problem, the strong economy of the last few years has meant that demand for real trees increased by 20% last year, with high demand expected this year as well.  Savvy shoppers may note that the highest prices for trees tend to appear on Cyber Monday, and prices sometimes drop as Christmas draws nearer.


Video Spotlight: Yule Pay More: Shortage Drives Up Christmas Tree Prices


This post is based on the Yahoo! Finance article, Why Christmas trees are getting more expensive, by Ethan Wolfe-Mann, December 3, 2019, and the YouTube video, Yule Pay More: Shortage Drives Up Christmas Tree Prices, by KPIX CBS SF Bay Area, November 29, 2019. Image source: Don Mason/Blend Images

Discussion Questions:

1. What makes forecasting demand for trees difficult for Christmas tree farmers?

Guidance: Since it takes Continue reading

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Forecasting Consumer Demand: Weather Drives Sales

Forecasting Consumer Demand: Weather Drives Sales

December 15, 2019

From Pop Tarts to snow blowers, consumer product sales are being driven by the weather and predicted with increasing accuracy by IBM.

AI-driven analytics pair with detailed weather forecasting to help merchants know what specific items shoppers will want to purchase, when and where they will shop, and how much they will buy.  IBM has fine-tuned its forecasting models so they can provide store-level forecasts for specific products (SKU’s).

Interestingly, the most important drivers in the models are not economic but weather related.


Video Spotlight: How to Improve Retail Demand Forecasting with Cognitive


This post is based on the Forbes article, The Science of IBM’s Holiday Retail Forecast—and Why Companies Count On IT, by Matt Hunter, November 27, 2019, and the YouTube video, How to Improve Retail Demand Forecasting with Cognitive, by IBM Services, January 12, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock/ra2studio

Discussion Questions:

1. How do weather related forecasts predict buyer behavior?

Guidance: Current weather conditions can affect buying behavior, driving up demand for umbrellas or hot coffee, for instance.  However, forecasts of longer range patterns tend to have a greater influence. For instance, this year much of the United States faced an early cold Continue reading

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Organized Retail Crime at Home Depot

Organized Retail Crime at Home Depot

Crime rings targeting retail stores have become well organized.

The stolen goods quickly change hands through a network of criminals and often end up being sold online with little traceability. Fueled by the opioid epidemic, the problem has been growing steadily, causing serious shrinkage in retailers’ inventories. Home Depot and other retailers have increased their crime prevention efforts and are working with law enforcement to protect their bottom line and honest shoppers.


Video Spotlight: Fighting Organized Retail Crime and Sting Operations


This post is based on the CNBC.com article, Inside Home Depot’s Efforts to Stop a Growing Theft Problem at its Stores, by C. Reagan and J. Schlesinger, November 22, 2019, and the YouTube video, Behind the Scenes of Home Depot’s Operation to Take Down Professional Shopliftersby CNBC Television, November 22, 2019. Image source: Â© SIBSA Digital Pvt. Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is shrinkage and how does it occur? Why is the type of shrinkage featured in the article particularly worrisome?

Guidance: Shrinkage means that the retailer has less inventory than what is shown in accounting records. Theft by customers or employees, damage, defective items, loss of items, Continue reading

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