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Costco Q4 sales climb 9%; will open nine stores by year-end

BY Dan Berthiaume

Issaquah, Wash. – Costco Wholesale Corp. on Thursday reported that its revenue for the fourth-quarter climbed 9% to $34.8 billion. Total same-store sales, excluding negative impacts from gasoline price deflation and foreign exchange, increased 7%.

Costco plans to open nine new warehouse stores before the end of calendar year 2014.

During the full fiscal year 2014, Costco reported a 7% jump in net sales to $110.2 million from $102.9 million. Total same-store sales rose 6%.

The company will release full fourth quarter and fiscal year financial results on Oct. 8.

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Saks partners with Curate on content hub

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Saks Fifth Avenue is launching a user-generated content hub on Saks.com called #SaksStyle. Created by Curalate on its Fanreel image integration platform, #SaksStyle will function as a daily go-to guide for fashion inspiration created solely by Saks customers, highlighting products purchased from Saks Fifth Avenue locations nationwide and online.

The #SaksStyle hub will collect content from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to aggregate photos and create a shoppable social sharing platform, with shoppable selfies that allow customers to purchase items they see other customers displaying.

"We are creating a community where our most style savvy customers can engage, shop looks within the photos on saks.com and be inspired by the fashion point of view of others," said Qianna Smith, director of social media. "Our goal is to connect customers with similar interests in the most dynamic way possible, which meant breaking new ground by encompassing four of the most prominent social networks into one cohesive hashtag photo sharing experience."

A curated selection of images submitted by users will be populated on the hub on a daily basis. Visitors will have the ability to sort by popular and trending images — making it easy to see which user photos have received the most likes and comments. Customers will also be able to sort through images based on a specific product category.

In an effort to continue the omnichannel experience, all Saks Fifth Avenue women’s ready-to-wear and contemporary departments will have vinyl decals in the fitting rooms, to allow customers to instantly share products.

Saks says the goal of the #SaksStyle hub is to reinforce Saks’ innovation in both the retail market and in social media by creating a sense of community within its customer-base with an expanded notion of the shopping experience. By compelling shoppers who actively participate in social media with an inclusive avenue, it is designed to strengthen loyalty and broaden Saks’ online visibility to a whole new range of consumers.

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Christopher & Banks swings to Q2 profit; plans new stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – Women’s specialty retailer Christopher & Banks Corp. swung to a profit of $3.4 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to a net loss of $285,000 in the prior year period. Higher pretax income and income operating, as well as a tax benefit, helped push Christopher & Banks into the black.

Net sales rose 2% to $106.6 million from $104.2 million, and same store sales grew 2.6%. Looking ahead, in the third quarter Christopher & Banks has plans for a number of store openings and rebrandings. This includes opening four new outlet stores and seven new stores under its MPW banner, as well as converting one CB and one CJ store to the MPW banner, closing three CB stores and replacing them with three new MPW stores, and converting 31 CB and two CJ stores to MPW stores by adding CJ or CB product to each.

Christopher & Banks expects higher net sales in the third quarter, and to operate an average of 550 stores, down from 596 stores a year earlier. The company also intends to upgrade its e-commerce business.

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