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Costco March same-store sales up 4%, misses Street

BY Marianne Wilson

Issaquah, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp reported a 4% rise in same-store sales, missing analysts’ expectations for a 5.2% increase. The company said its results were negatively impacted by lower fuel prices and a strong dollar, which hurt the value of its sales overseas.

Net sales at Costco rose 7%to $9.67 billion for the five-week period ended April 7.

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Alliance Data, Locaid launch geofence program

BY CSA STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO — Alliance Data Retail Services recently collaborated with Locaid, the world’s largest LaaS (Location-as-a-Service) company, to run an opt-in geofence pilot program between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve in 2012.

During the campaign, Alliance Data Retail Services sent over 20,000 opt-in email invitations to cardholders of select branded credit programs, asking them to join in a text message pilot campaign at Easton Town Center, a Columbus, Ohio, shopping mall. Initial findings from the pilot revealed that participating cardholders spent an average of 24% more in a shopping trip triggered by a text message than the average cardholder. Credit sales were up 2.5% over projected sales for the pilot period and up 4.9 percent over projected sales for Black Friday alone.

Working with Locaid, Alliance Data implemented a virtual geofence around the mall designed to trigger SMS text messages to participants who had opted in to the campaign when they were within a pre-determined proximity of the mall. These communications engaged participants with various types of messaging and encouraged them to use their store-branded credit cards for a chance to win a shopping spree at one of the participating retailers. The proximity-based messages influenced the purchase decisions of 39% of the participants; 37% reported the messages influenced them to visit a specific brand. Following the pilot program, 68 percent of participants indicated they would sign up for future location-based SMS campaigns.

"Location is becoming an integral driver of any mobile campaign," said Rip Gerber, president and chief executive officer of Locaid. "The results of this pilot prove that location increases relevancy and in return increases share of wallet for those retailers using it correctly: to create another level of engagement with their best customers."

"We have known that text message campaigns are powerful—but when combined with location and personalization, our retailers can achieve real relevance," says Jim Walz, director of mobile solutions for Alliance Data Retail Services. "These are real, tangible results for the participating retailers. Using location-based text message campaigns can be a strong driver in lifting incremental sales for a brand, but it’s essential the right message is sent to the right person at the right time to truly resonate on a one-to-one level."

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Rite Aid reports first annual profit since 2007

BY Marianne Wilson

Camp Hill, Pa. — Rite Aid reported a $123.1 million profit for the fourth quarter and a $118.1 million profit for the fiscal year, compared with respective losses of $161.3 million and $368.6 million during the same period last year. It was the drugstore chain’s second-straight quarterly profit and first annual gain in six years, amid increases in prescription count and front-end end sales.

Revenue for the fourth quarter fell 9.7% to $6.5 billion compared with last year’s quarter, which had an additional week. Same store sales for the quarter decreased 2.0% over the prior-year period, with a 0.3% increase in the front end offset by a 3.1% decrease in the pharmacy. Pharmacy sales benefited from a 3.0% increase in the number of prescriptions filled in same stores.

For the 52-week fiscal year ended March 2, 2013, Rite Aid had revenues of $25.4 billion compared to $26.1 billion for the 53-week prior year. Revenues decreased by 2.8%, primarily driven by one less week in fiscal 2013 and the impact of lower cost generics on pharmacy sales.

During a conference call with investors, the chain said of its 4,623 stores, 797 feature its Wellness format, which feature specially trained staff members who walk the aisles of the stores with iPads and provide information on health and wellness products and pharmacy services, acting as a bridge between the front end and pharmacy.

Rite Aid plans to remodel 400 more stores in fiscal year 2014.

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