Retail roundup: Wal-Mart expands pickup program, Dov Charney sexual harassment case, 99 Cents Only to go private, retail sales, JCPenney prom dress donations
-- Discount giant Wal-Mart announced that it will launch a full-scale national rollout of Pick Up Today, a program that allows shoppers to purchase items online and receive free same-day pickup at a local Wal-Mart store. The rollout -- already in some Southern California locations -- will begin later this month and by June is expected to be available in nearly 3,600 Wal-Mart stores nationwide. Online orders are usually ready for pickup in about four hours, the company said. Like many retailers, Wal-Mart has focused on improving its multichannel shopping experience for customers.
-- Dov Charney, the controversial founder and chief executive of Los Angeles clothing company American Apparel, was sued by a former employee who claimed Charney sexually harassed her for months and forced her to perform oral sex in his New York apartment when she was 18. The $250-million suit was halted by a New York judge Wednesday so that a hearing can be held to determine whether the case should proceed as a trial or in private arbitration. American Apparel has denied the claims and says the suit by Irene Morales is an extortion attempt.
-- Discount chain 99 Cents Only announced that it had received a buyout offer from its founding family and Leonard Green & Partners to take the company private. The offer of $19.09 a share was seen by many investors as too low, and many expect a higher bid to emerge. 99 Cents Only is based in City of Commerce.
-- U.S. retail sales posted their largest gain in four months in February. Sales rose 1% for the eighth straight month of increases as shoppers stepped up purchases of autos, clothes and other goods even as they spent more for gasoline, according to a Commerce Department report. But a drop in consumer confidence in early March on rising gas prices suggested that slower consumer spending could be ahead.
-- JCPenney is hosting a nationwide prom dress donation drive dubbed Wear It, Rock It, Give It. From March 13 to April 2, all JCPenney stores will be collecting gently used prom dresses for teens. The dresses will be donated to local after-school charities, which will make them available to underprivileged girls in the community. To thank customers, the department store chain will give them a 20% off coupon to spend on any prom dress.
-- Andrea Chang