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• The New York Post has a story about how retailers increasingly are turning to own-label products as a key differentiator in a highly competitive market. “Sales of private brands at big chains like Walmart, BJ’s, Dollar General and Target grew 4.6 percent last year compared to the 1.1 percent increase for national brands, according to the Private Label Manufacturer’s Association,” the story says.”

• The Washington Post writes about a startup company called start-up Happy Returns, which it describes as being “among a growing number of companies trying to bridge the gap between online purchases and in-store returns. returns can now be dropped off at Kohl’s or Whole Foods stores, where employees will pack and ship them free. And Walmart last week announced that its revamped mobile app will make it possible for customers to return items in-store in about 30 seconds.”

These moves reflect a basic reality: “Even as Americans do more of their shopping online, about half of consumers say they prefer to make their returns in a store, according to data from Narvar, a firm that focuses on online customer service. (Among shoppers in their 20s, that figure was higher: 55 percent.) People may want to buy clothing, shoes, even groceries from the comfort of their homes, but when it comes to returning the ones they don’t want, many would rather do it in person.”
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