Aaron’s opens 32 stores
Atlanta — Aaron’s, a lease-to-own, announced the recent opening of a combined 32 new company-operated and franchised stores in 17 different states and two Canadian provinces.
The announcement follows a strong growth year for the company in 2012, which included the opening of its 2,000th store in the Bronx in September.
"Last year was incredibly strong with a 6.6% increase in store count and financial results that were the best in the company’s history," said Aaron’s chairman, president and CEO Ronald W. Allen. "We are pleased to begin 2013 with an equally optimistic outlook for store growth and subsequent job opportunities."
Aaron’s currently has more than 2,075 company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada.
February retail sales up 1.1%
WASHINGTON — The Department of Commerce reported that retail sales for the month of February rose by 1.1% seasonally adjusted month to month.
The newly released figures include nongeneral merchandise categories, such as automobiles, gas stations and restaurants; excluding those, sales rose 0.7%, while rising 0.5% unadjusted year over year. The National Retail Federation noted that sales beat estimates as consumers adapted and adjusted spending in response to higher gas prices and the payroll tax increase.
"Retail continues to show its importance to the economy," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "That said, our consumer research consistently shows a cautious shopper that is making tough spending decisions based on economic uncertainties, lower paychecks and higher prices for things, such as gas. This is particularly true for those making $50,000 or less a year. While retail sales numbers indicate good momentum for the economy, consumers with less earning power may continue to face ongoing pressure, and retail sales will encounter further challenges as sequestration takes full effect in March."
Health and personal care stores’ sales were flat seasonally adjusted month to month, and decreased 2.9% unadjusted year over year, while general merchandise stores sales saw a 0.5% increase adjusted month to month and a 4.7% decrease unadjusted year-over-year.
Guggenheim Securities analyst John Heinbockel noted in a report that overall retail sales, excluding cars and fuel, increased 4% in February, flat compared with January but below the 4.6% increase in February 2012.
"In such a moderating growth environment, we have an ongoing preference for more defensively positioned retailers, those with more consumables-oriented business mixes and average to below-average valuation levels," Heinbockel wrote, adding that Guggenheim would continue encouraging the buying of dollar store and pharmacy retail stocks, with the idea that both channels would continue generating above-average profit growth beyond the first quarter.
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Target Canada off on right note with Bublé partnership
TORONTO — Target Canada has announced its first entertainment sponsorship with three-time Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Michael Bublé. The retailer will sell an exclusive deluxe edition of Bublé’s highly anticipated sixth studio album, "To Be Loved." The exclusive version of the album, featuring three bonus tracks, will hit stores April 22 and continue to be available as Target stores open across Canada throughout 2013.
Bonus songs on Target’s exclusive edition of the album include "Melancholy Baby," a new, original track from Bublé, a swing-style mix of the album’s hit first single "It’s a Beautiful Day," and a cover of the classic "Be My Baby."
"Target is known for developing exciting partnerships and relationships with everyone from fashion designers to musicians," said John Morioka, senior vice-president, Merchandising, Target Canada. "Given his Canadian heritage it’s fitting that the partnership with Michael Bublé is Target’s first exclusive entertainment collaboration available in Canada. With so much anticipation surrounding the release of "To Be Loved," we’re happy to provide fans with the opportunity to find even more of Michael Bublé’s music, only at Target."
The partnership marks the third time Michael Bublé has teamed up with Target and the first entertainment partnership in Canada.
"A lot of the material on ‘To Be Loved’ came from me being in a really great place in life and the album is filled with songs that I’m just really excited to get out to the fans," said Michael Bublé. "I can’t wait to team up with Target again and am excited to spread some extra love to Canadian guests with the bonus tracks on this edition of the album."
"To Be Loved" features a mix of original songs, co-written by Bublé, and standards from artists including the Bee Gees, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley. Produced by Bublé’s longtime collaborator Bob Rock, the album is a follow up to the 2011 release "Christmas," which sold seven million copies internationally and was the number two selling album of 2011. Later this year, Bublé is scheduled to perform 10 sellout shows at London’s 02 Arena beginning June 30.
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