FINANCE

Black Friday Jump-Starts Spending

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Statistics from Black Friday continue to trickle in, and they paint a mostly optimistic picture of the holiday selling season. While discounters made news with their long lines of bargain hunters in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, the malls are hoping for better things to come as the holiday progresses

Nationwide, sales Thursday through Sunday were up nearly 22% to $27.8 billion from $22.8 billion last year, according to a shopping survey by the National Retail Federation, based in Washington, D.C. The spending was fueled by deep discounts and demand for electronics, the NRF said. Big winners over the weekend appear to be the discounters. Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, said Saturday that it expects to post a solid 4.3% gain in same-store sales for November, helped by better-than expected sales on Friday.

Separately, Visa USA said retail spending on Visa credit and debit cards rose 11% to $3.7 billion on Nov. 25-26, led by purchases of electronics. According to New Canaan, Conn.-based Customer Growth Partners (CGP), sales in November are showing strength year over year. Total sales are up 9.0%, home improvement is up 13%, electronics up 14%, discount stores up 10% and e-commerce up 11%. The CGP estimates for the period Nov. 1-26 uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau/Monthly Retail Trade Survey and company data. “The headline is that, so far, the holiday season is a home run, but as they say in the wine business, ‘One swallow does not a season make,” said CGP president Craig Johnson.

ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks total sales at about 45,000 retail outlets, said overall sales on Friday were relatively unchanged compared with a year ago, despite heavier discounting and expanded hours that drew a surge of shoppers in the early morning. The Chicago-based research group reported total sales at $8 billion, down 0.9% from a year ago.

“Although the Black Friday number is a bit flat, this may be misleading as we’re comparing this to a very strong 2004 performance,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for the International Council of Shopping Centers, in a statement.

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News

PriceSmart Narrows Loss for 4Q, Year

BY CSA STAFF

San Diego, PriceSmart Inc. narrowed its operating loss from $3.1 million to $465,000 in its in its fourth quarter ended Aug. 31. Net sales grew 18.6% to $155.4 million.

For the fiscal year, PriceSmart recorded an operating loss of $5.3 million, vs. a $6.7 million loss the previous year. Net revenues grew 13.7% to $618.8 million for the fiscal year.

The warehouse club retailer also announced the opening of its fourth location in Costa Rica, and the acquisition of a Panama City commercial center that already houses a PriceSmart club, plus additional commercial property that the merchant plans to develop.

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OPERATIONS

Verizon Calling BJ’s

BY CSA STAFF

Bedminster, N.J., Verizon Wireless has announced a deal with BJ’s Wholesale Clubs Inc. to install Verizon shops in more than 128 BJ’s locations. The in-store shops will sell phones, accessories and a variety of service plans and also accept bill payments. Verizon will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the kiosks.

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