FINANCE

Blizzard hurts retailers as post-Christmas shoppers stay home

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Sunday’s east coast snowstorm disrupted sales throughout the entire area and disrupted one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Sections of New York and New Jersey got as much as two feet of snow over the past few days, keeping many shoppers at home. Spending may shift into January, Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, told Bloomberg on Monday.

“Look for sales to be repeated by retailers. They’re going to be more aggressive,” Cohen said.

The day after Christmas is one of the five busiest shopping days of the year, and it may take retailers two weeks to capture sales lost yesterday, Cohen told Bloomberg. At the same time, shoppers may lose their enthusiasm as the holiday season wanes, he said.

For some retailers, however, the storm brought benefits. Home Depot and Lowe’s Cos. sold out of snow blowers and shoppers bought more shovels and ice melt, Craig Johnson, president of New Canaan, Conn.-based Customer Growth Partners, told Bloomberg. The storm also likely will give online sales “a slight bump” on Sunday and Monday, he said.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Retailing Index dropped 3.16 points, or 0.6%, to 508.67 at 10:39 a.m. EST on Monday. The index had gained 25% this year before Monday, compared with a 13% increase for the S&P 500, according to the Bloomberg report.

Consumers may temper their spending if the storm’s aftermath stalls shopping for several days and the frugality of New Year’s resolutions kicks in, Michael Dart, the San Francisco-based head of private equity at the New York consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates, told Bloomberg.

New York City had 18 inches to 20 inches of snow by 7:30 a.m. local time Monday as the storm’s center shifted north and east, commercial forecaster AccuWeather said. The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for Boston and into Maine.

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FINANCE

Online retail sales reach Christmas season record

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — A report released Monday by MasterCard Advisors said that while it’s still too early to know the final outcome of the Christmas shopping season, it’s already clear that it’s been a record season for online retail.

Consumers had spent $36.4 billion online by Thursday, the day before Christmas Eve, according to SpendingPulse, a MasterCard Advisors report. That’s a 15.4% increase over last year. Six out of the seven weeks since Oct. 31 marked double-digit rises in online spending, with apparel accounting for 18.8% of overall sales online. In 2009, apparel accounted for 16.9% of spending.

Figures may rise even more with the addition of bricks-and-mortar retail sales, according to the MasterCard Advisors report. Shops and malls were crowded; the National Retail Federation expected a 3.3% jump over last year’s spending, to more than $451.5 billion. The year-over-year increase hasn’t been that hefty since 2006; it would also be the biggest total since the record sales figure in 2007 of $452.8 billion.

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News

Food Lion goes mobile

BY CSA STAFF

Salisbury, N.C. — Food Lion has unveiled a new mobile app that puts its stores right at customers’ fingertips.

The new app, developed in partnership with Mercatus USA, gives customers the capability to create shopping lists, access weekly specials, download new recipes and locate stores. Also giving customers more bang for their buck is the opportunity to sign up for the Food Lion MVP loyalty program through the app.

The app can be accessed by visiting the iTunes library, and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod devices.

"At Food Lion, we are constantly looking for new ways to enhance the shopping experiences of our customers," said David Palmer, director of customer relationship management and interactive marketing. "This new mobile application is user-friendly and makes it easy for our shoppers to connect with us while they are on the go."

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