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Container import volume down 6% in September from August

BY Staff Writer

Newark, N.J. — U.S. containerized import volume fell 6% in September from the month before as surging shipping of auto parts was not enough to offset growing pessimism among retailers about consumer demand heading into the holidays, according to figures from The Journal of Commerce/PIERS.

Imports fell 6% from August to September, and the disappointing numbers for such items as toys, apparel and home goods signaled retailers are restraining their inventory growth on the cusp of the holiday shopping season.

Toy imports were down 9% year-over-year, according to the JOC/PIERS figures. Also down were popular gift items such as women’s and infant wear, sliding 11% or 5,346 TEUs; computers, down 14%, or 4,100 TEUs; and menswear, down 8% or 2,387 TEUs. Furniture and soft home goods also declined 3% and 11%, respectively.

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Sam’s Club gears up for free digestive health screening

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club is offering a free digestive health screening this month.

Sam’s Club pharmacies will offer both members and nonmembers free screenings, while supplies last, on Nov. 12 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., which will include the EZ Detect stool blood test, a take-home colon test designed for early detection of such bowel disorders as colon cancer, ulcers, hemorrhoids, polyps, colitis, diverticulitis or fissures. The event also will include cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and body mass index screenings. Glucose screenings are not available in Tennessee, Maryland or Hawaii, Sam’s Club noted.

"Every 10 minutes a life is lost to colon cancer. Although many people may consider colon screenings an embarrassing topic of conversation, this cancer can be detected early when treatment is most effective — or even prevented altogether," Sam’s Club health-and-wellness SVP Jill Turner-Mitchael said. "Our digestive health screenings are a simple way for members to take an active role in the prevention of digestive disorders, including the early discovery of colon cancer."

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TGT vs WMT, price gap continues to narrow analysts say

BY CSA STAFF

The latest pricing studying from Deutsche Bank analyst Charles Grom shows a basket of 50 items is still cheaper at Walmart than Target, but by a slimmer margin than in the past.

“Walmart maintained its price leadership position over Target in our Octoberpricing comparison (across 50 SKUs), however the spread narrowed sequentially suggesting significant price investment by Walmart has yet to occur,” according to Grom. “In fact, the basket for the 22 identical items we have tracked since March 2006 rose 4.7% sequentially and 3.1% year-over-year at Walmart to a multi-year high level driven by inflation in food (cereal, coffee, soft drinks) and household items. Interestingly, for the second consecutive month, Target’s food basket (19 items or 38% of the mix) were below Walmart’s aided by temporary price cuts.”

The Deutsche Bank survey results released on Friday confirmed results of a similar pricing study released the prior day by Credit Suisse. According to the firm, which looks at prices on 60 items in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago markets, Walmart and Target raised prices in September compared to August, but Walmart went up by 0.9% and Target by 0.5%. On a comparison to the prior year, Walmart’s price went up 5% and Target was up 2.6% and Target’s price gap versus Walmart decreased slightly from 1.7% to 1.3%.

“Despite Walmart’s publicly stated goal to be ‘relentless in widening the price gap,’ it seems that Walmart’s price gap is contracting. Although this could be a positive read-through for other retailers, it could also cause the company to renew its focus on strengthening its price leadership in the industry,” according to Credit Suisse.

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