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Analysts forecast potentially gloomy Halloween from Sandy

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Sales of Halloween candy, decorations and other items may not reach the $8 billion mark anticipated earlier by the National Retail Federation as Hurricane Sandy turned consumers’ attentions elsewhere.

While plan-ahead shoppers had already made Halloween purchases prior to Sandy’s arrival, the hurricane would have curtailed last-minute shopping for Halloween supplies. Raymond James analyst John Ransom suggested that drug stores would be the hardest hit and that, while hurricane preparations could have boosted revenue for the chains, a scaled-down Halloween would hurt sales, as reported by the Associated Press.

Trick-or-treating in the East will likely be stymied, as well, as downed power lines and flooded and debris-covered streets may cause parents to keep their children home.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Tuesday that he would sign an executive order rescheduling Halloween if conditions on Wednesday are not safe for trick-or-treating. Towns in New Jersey, upstate New York, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire have already made or are considering similar moves, according to AP.

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Baker & Taylor optimizes online catalogue for mobile use

BY CSA STAFF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Baker & Taylor, a distributor of digital and physical books and entertainment products, announced that it has enhanced its popular Axis 360 digital media platform by releasing a mobile version. The mobile version of Axis 360 is designed to leverage the functionality of native Web browsers built into multi-function devices, smartphones and tablets running on the iOS, Android and BlackBerry operating systems.

With this latest release, users browsing a library’s online catalogue on their mobile devices can now experience Axis 360’s compelling and easy-to-use interface in a version designed specifically for mobile technology. This mobile version means that users can view a library’s entire collection on their smartphones or tablets, select an ebook, check out, download and read their borrowed material smoothly and directly on their device.

"People are reading more ebooks in more places with more devices, and today’s enhancement to Axis 360 ensures that their local library’s digital collection is always there for them," said George Coe, president of library and education at Baker & Taylor. "To help libraries boost the circulation of digital materials, we have adapted the outstanding features of Axis 360 to the functionality and convenience of mobile devices. This gives patrons the freedom to check out ebooks not just at home, but in line at the grocery store, waiting at a doctor’s office, or anywhere else they might want to enjoy content."

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Walgreens launches recovery efforts

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens said Tuesday that it is beginning its recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The retailer said that it is working to provide its stores with what they need to again serve customers in areas impacted by the storm.

By noon ET on Tuesday, the number of Walgreens stores closed dropped to 530 with more re-opening by the hour, from a peak of about 750 stores closed during the height of the storm.

Stores that are still closed are primarily due to evacuations, power outages and staff transportation issues, said Walgreens. Approximately 300 stores were without power. The company currently has reports of 10 stores with light to moderate damage, but that could increase as access is gained to more locations.

Walgreens said it is communicating with team members through the company intranet, its Security Operations Center, conference calls and individual calls. There have been no reports of Walgreens team member injuries; however many suffered personal property damage due to flooding and other weather-related issues, said Walgreens.

The retailer is in contact with the American Red Cross to offer assistance to first responders and to local communities impacted by the storm. Walgreens also anticipates requests in the coming days from relief agencies, charitable organizations and emergency management services.

Walgreens said it expects closed stores to resume normal hours most quickly in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. More severe infrastructure issues may cause longer delays in West Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York City. In advance of the storm, Walgreens secured more than 180 electric generators and stationed them for deployment based on severity of need and expected length of power outage. Deployment was rapidly occurring on Tuesday and is helping to reopen stores, Walgreens said.

Walgreens distribution center at Windsor, Conn., was without electric utility power for several hours and relied on emergency generators to continue partial operation. Full power was restored on Tuesday morning and the facility is expected to resume normal operation within hours.

A Maspeth, N.Y., distribution facility that serves Duane Reade stores has full power and is working to assist staff trying to get to work in the absence of mass transit service. Road and bridge closures are causing problems for delivery trucks in the New York metropolitan area.

Another distribution center in Bethlehem, Penn., was without power as of noon ET, but the building is intact. A smaller distribution facility in Nazareth, Penn., sustained roof damage and flooding, which will require repairs before resuming operations. Where distribution centers are affected by the hurricane, Walgreens said it will shift to alternate centers to supply medicines, water and other essentials. It also has relationships with third-party suppliers who can fill gaps in distribution.

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