FINANCE

Books-A-Million announces withdrawal of acquisition proposal

BY Staff Writer

Birmingham, Ala. — Books-A-Million said its largest shareholder group, the Anderson family, has withdrawn its non-binding offer to take the company private.

The Anderson family, which owns a 53% stake in the chain, had offered $3.05 per share in cash to take the company private in April.

“After discussing the proposal with the special committee of the company’s board of directors and its advisers, the Anderson family has decided not to pursue the proposed acquisition at this time,” the company said in a statement.

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OPERATIONS

Food Lion expands brand strategy

BY Staff Writer

Salisbury, N.C. — Food Lion on Wednesday expanded its new brand strategy to 269 stores in North Carolina and South Carolina. With the expansion, Food Lion has more than 700 locations operating under rebranding, representing more than 60% of its store base.

The new strategy offers customers lower prices on 6,000 items, a greater emphasis on private brands, enhanced produce and an easy and convenient shopping experience, such as faster checkout. To support its new strategy, the company created approximately 800 new jobs.

“We are very pleased with the reaction from our customers since we introduced our new brand strategy,” Cathy Green Burns, president of Food Lion, said in a statement. “During the past year, we have continued to refine the strategy based on additional customer feedback and have made new enhancements for our customers. We look forward to winning new customers and continuing to serve our existing customers with enhanced Food Lion stores in our home markets.”

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FINANCE

Deloitte Consumer Spending Index posts fourth monthly gain

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index (Index) posted its fourth consecutive increase in June, rising to 3.22 from a reading of 3.09 the previous month. The Index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending, is comprised of four components: tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices.

“The housing market is showing signs of recovering, while energy prices continue to decrease, giving a boost to consumer buying power,” explained Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly Index. “Although consumers are financially stronger, the job market continues to affect their willingness to spend. Additionally, the oppressively hot weather impacting a large part of the country may stifle consumers’ desire to shop.”

Deloitte’s analysis of factors influencing consumer spending indicate:

Gasoline prices are down 20 cents in the past month but are down just 14 cents from a year ago. Unseasonably hot weather across much of the country could be offsetting some of the benefit of this price reduction.

The labor market remains very fragile, despite this month’s small decline in jobless claims. Consumer confidence has fallen sharply over the past two months due largely to the renewed weakness in job growth.

Home prices are stabilizing and even turning up in some markets. Record low interest rates are giving a small boost to demand and helping to increase refinancing activity. Most refinances are being done for a lower payment as there is little equity to be cashed out.

Tax rates are likely heading higher next year.

“Retailers can capitalize on changing consumer behavior, such as embracing shoppers’ use of mobile technology in the store," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader. “Deloitte’s research into smartphones’ influence on retail store sales revealed that smartphone shoppers are 14% more likely to convert in the store. Retailers should provide – not shy away from – mobile applications to capture consumers’ attention throughout the back-to-school season, particularly as smartphone use for shopping skews to younger consumers.”

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