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Breaking News in the Industry: February 1, 2019

TV returns spike after the Super Bowl

“It’s funny how it’s taken over. It’s showing off, it’s putting a big old TV up on your wall for your Super Bowl party whether you can afford it or not,” said Sean Cleland, vice president of mobile for liquidation company B-Stock. Data backs up this trend. TV returns have jumped 20 percent from the fourth quarter (October-December) to the first quarter (January-March) every year for the past three years, bringing the overall return rate to about 25 percent for the year’s first three months, B-Stock reports. “The Super Bowl is a big time for us. The jump in the volume of returns that we see is pretty significant,” Cleland said. “It’s definitely a driver of wardrobing. This has been a trend for the past few years.”

The cost of returns is high… they’re considered lost sales to retailers, whose profits and margin percentages are automatically reduced when they’re forced to sell open-box goods. Further, inspecting and restocking items drives up labor costs. Roughly $369 billion worth of merchandise was returned in the U.S. over the past year, according to an Appriss Retail report. Yet flexible return policies are a core component of retailers’ relationships with consumers. “It’s tricky for retailers because they’re competing with the online sellers of the world who have liberal, lax return policies that force them into providing a similar customer experience,” Cleland said. “It has created a glut of returns post-Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s crummy for the retailer but creates a strong sense of loyalty for the customer,” he said. “It’s just a sacrifice they’re willing to make. Electronics retailers use the annual Super Bowl to offer consumers heavy promotions on the latest TVs and other equipment. “This time of year, pre-Super Bowl, they’re getting extremely competitive with promotions and markdowns,” Cleland said. “And TVs are definitely king this time of year.   [Source: WDEF News12Now]

Employee and family in custody and accused of theft

An 18-year-old Rohnert Park woman in California was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise from the local Walmart while she was an employee there, according to the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety. Walmart loss prevention in Rohnert Park reviewed store surveillance video from November and December and determined Angel Vu had been passing items through her register without charging for them. The city’s police department obtained a warrant for Vu’s arrest and searched her home Wednesday. She cooperated with investigators and walked them through the home, pointing out stolen items including electronics and video games totaling over $5,700.

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Sgt. Jeff Justice of the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety said Vu stole an unknown amount of other merchandise that was not recovered. Angel’s mother, Diem Vu, 41, and her sister, Judy Vu, 19, admitted to helping Vu steal the items, police said. Angel Vu was arrested on suspicion of grand theft and embezzlement, and her mother and sister each were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy, burglary, grand theft and possession of stolen property. All three were in custody in the Sonoma County Jail on Wednesday night, according to jail records.  All three were in custody in the Sonoma County Jail on Wednesday night, according to jail records.   [Source: The Press Democrat]

‘Tis the season, counterfeit Super Bowl memorabilia

When it comes to the Super Bowl, fans will be shelling out big money, not just on tickets, but also for signed memorabilia. Signed jerseys, helmets and more from this year’s Super Bowl will be expected to fetch command prices. But with such high demand, the experts say count on counterfeits. In the world of signed memorabilia, Marietta-based industry pro Bob Pressley has a huge assortment of famous sports figures. Which is why he depends on the holograms and matching certificates from a thirty-party, independent authenticator like PSA, Professional Sports Authenticator.

Kevin Keating, PSA’s principal authenticator spoke to FOX 5 News from Virginia but he travels all over the country authenticating signatures. “If you buy with a PSA certification than you don’t you don’t really need to know anything but the fact that you got something that PSA says is authentic and you’ll be able to resell that down the road,” said Keating.With the Super Bowl in Atlanta, Bob Pressley anticipates a new crop of famous names will hit the market soon. “The ones who will come out as the heroes will have a lot of interest to do either private signings or public appearances where there will be signings attached to it,” said Pressley. Maybe it’ll be a Los Angeles Rams Todd Gurley autographed jersey or a Tom Brady’s signed helmet, whatever the hero prize, Pressley says count on counterfeits.   [Source: Fox5 Atlanta]

AP member bitten by fleeing shoplifter

Authorities are searching for an Oklahoma City woman who may be connected to an assault at a local store. Police officers were called to an assault that occurred at the Target Store, located in the 5400 block of N. May Ave. According to the police report, dispatchers learned that a shoplifter allegedly bit a asset protection team member  while escaping custody at the store. Investigators learned that a woman tried to leave the store without paying for $300 worth of clothes. When she was stopped by a AP team member, she allegedly bit the member and left the store. If you have any information on the crime, call CrimeStoppers at 405.235.7300.. [Source: KFOR4 News]

Employee gets 5 years for $15,000 theft

A Meijer employee in Kentucky who was arrested in February 2018 for stealing cash from the store has been sentenced to five years (probated for three) for theft by unlawful taking and disposition of all others ($10,000 or more but less than $1 million) by a Madison County Circuit Court.According to a previous Register story, Richmond police responded to the store in February, where loss prevention associates told them Crystal Hatton, 38, of Brandon Court, Berea, had been stealing money. During several months, Hatton was witnessed, via video surveillance, putting bundles of bills into wrist bracelets to conceal them.

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Hatton would then put the bracelets in her purse and leave with the money, according to a citation. To conceal her thefts, Hatton manipulated numbers in the computer system to compensate for the amounts she had taken, the citation continued. LP associates provided RPD with surveillance video showing Hatton stealing the money and a written statement from Hatton admitting to the thefts. In the statement, Hatton stated she stole the money because her home and children were being threatened and she was forced to give some people money. The total amount of money Hatton stole over the five months was at least $15,000, the citation stated.   [Source: Richmond Register]

Pharmacy chain to pay $269.2m to settle two healthcare fraud lawsuits

The Walgreens pharmacy chain has been accused of over-billing federal healthcare programs. Approved by the US District Judge Paul A Crotty, the retailer is required to pay $209.2m under the first lawsuit for improperly billing Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal healthcare programs.
 According to this lawsuit, the company intentionally dispensed hundreds of thousands of insulin pens to program beneficiaries who did not need them.

Under the second settlement, approved by the US District Judge J Paul Oetken, the company has been asked to pay $60M as it failed to offer the same drug prices offered to the public through another discount drug program, Prescription Savings Club. The retailer admitted and accepted responsibility for the allegations in both settlements. US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG) special agent Scott J Lampert said:  “Walgreens engaged in practices that undermined the integrity of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, compromised patient care, and wasted taxpayer dollars.”   [Source: Retail Insight Network]

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