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Americans Likely to Use Economic Stimulus to Reduce Debt

BY CSA STAFF

New York City According to a survey released Tuesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and UBS Securities, Americans likely to receive a rebate passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (rebating $600 to qualifying individuals and $1,200 to qualifying couples) would most likely use that rebate to pay off debt.

The survey, conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, asked 1,000 Americans what they would do with the money if the legislation was signed into law—increase spending, increase savings or pay off debt. Forty-three percent of respondents said they would use the money to pay off debt, 26% said they would put the money into savings and 24% said they would spend it.

“Consumers see this tax rebate program as similar to earlier ones and will act in a similar fashion using the lion’s share of the rebate money for debt relief,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC. “Lenders will see the money before retailers do,” he said.

But, continued Niemira, “About $25 billion will head into the spending stream and that is positive for the economy.”

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Amazon Europe to invest in LOVEFiLM

BY CSA STAFF

LUXEMBOURG Amazon.com and LOVEFiLM International, a DVD online rental subscription service in the United Kingdon, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany, have entered into an agreement under which LOVEFiLM will acquire Amazon Europe’s DVD rental business in the United Kingdom and Germany.

As part of the agreement, Amazon Europe will also become the largest shareholder in LOVEFiLM International through a cash investment.

The companies reported that once the deal is complete, the LOVEFiLM subscriber base will total over 900,000 customers predominantly in the United Kingdom and Germany, but also in the Nordics (Sweden, Norway, and Denmark).

“As one of Europe’s largest online DVD rental businesses, LOVEFiLM is well established to serve customers’ increasing demand for entertainment,” said Greg Greeley, Amazon’s vp of European retail. “Our investment will enable LOVEFiLM to grow the business further and we are excited to be part of their future.”

Amazon Europe will continue to operate the DVD rental business on behalf of LOVEFiLM for a period of time following the close of the transaction to ensure an efficient transition and smooth customer experience. No staff reductions are planned at Amazon’s German or United Kingdom operations as a result of the business transfer.

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Aldi to open new Fla. DC, HQ

BY CSA STAFF

HAINES CITY, Fla. Aldi last week reported that it has broken ground on a new Florida headquarters and distribution center. The facilities will support 25 new stores opening in central Florida in fall 2008 and employ about 100 people, Aldi said.

“We’re looking forward to becoming a part of the central Florida community and bringing great food and good jobs to the area,” said David Behm, Aldi division vp. “Grocery customers can expect a bill up to 50% less than anywhere they shop now, and employees can expect a great working environment with well-paying jobs. We’re excited to bring these benefits to the area as we continue our expansion all along the East Coast.”

According to Aldi, the $40 million, 500,000-square-foot distribution center will service stores in the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Orlando areas that will begin opening in September.

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