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Apparel Sales Decline in July

BY CSA STAFF

Chicago Sales of clothes and shoes fell in July as cash-strapped consumers cut back spending further to pay for nondiscretionary purchases such as food and gasoline, MasterCard Advisors said in a report on Wednesday.

Overall July apparel sales declined 0.8% from a year ago, with women’s apparel sliding 3.3%, the eighth-straight month that sector fell, according to a report by SpendingPulse, the retail data service of MasterCard Advisors, an arm of MasterCard Worldwide.

Sales of men’s apparel rose 0.9%. Overall footwear sales fell 0.9%.

“This is one of the weaker months I’ve seen in the last five years,” said Michael McNamara, VP of SpendingPulse, according to a Reuters report.

He said consumers are cutting back more on discretionary items since the U.S. government’s tax-rebate checks mostly cycled through the economy before July began.

June’s SpendingPulse results reported a 0.3% from the previous year, mainly helped by the Father’s Day holiday and rebate checks.

According to McNamara, a slight increase in sales was reported at the end of July after 11 states held sales-tax holidays as the back-to-school shopping season kicked into gear. He said the late buying indicated shoppers were more aware of bargains amid a sluggish economy.

“We’re continuing to see a divergence here in where the retail dollars are flowing,” McNamara said. “They really seem to be flowing into the nondiscretionary areas like drugstores, food and gasoline, and it’s really coming at the expense of some of these retailers such as apparel and electronics and appliances.”

The results from SpendingPulse provide an early look into the strength of July same-store sales, which many retailers will report on Thursday.

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Smart Balance names marketing vp

BY CSA STAFF

PARAMUS, N.J. Smart Balance announced that Richard McWilliams has been named to the position of vp and general manager, core brands, reporting to Gregory Venner, evp and chief consumer officer. McWilliams will be responsible for leading the marketing efforts for the company’s core brands.

Before joining Smart Balance, McWilliams served as chief marketing officer for Trex Company, the country’s leading manufacturer of composite decking.

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RealNetworks names new board member

BY CSA STAFF

SEATTLE Digital entertainment services company RealNetworks announced that Pradeep Jotwani has been appointed to the company’s board of directors.

“Pradeep is a great addition to our board,” said Rob Glaser, chairman and ceo of RealNetworks. “He brings a rare combination of breadth and depth that will serve RealNetworks well. I’m looking forward to working closely with Pradeep as we continue in our mission to enable consumers to enjoy digital entertainment whenever and wherever they are.”

Jotwani served as a senior executive at Hewlett-Packard for 17 years from 1990 to 2007. Most recently he was the senior vp and general manager responsible for the $16 billion printing supplies business. Prior to that, he founded and served as president for HP’s $15 billion consumer business.

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