FINANCE

Deloitte: Consumer Spending Index drops for second consecutive month

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index, released Tuesday, showed a drop in spending for the second month in a row.

The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“After a rebound during the first half of the year, the Index continued downward in August, primarily due to a drop in the price of new homes and a slight decline in the tax rate,” said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly Index. “Looking ahead, rising energy prices may further strain the Index heading into fall, as rising gas prices are already beginning to crimp spending.”

The Index, which comprises four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — fell to 3.13 from a downwardly revised reading of 3.22 the previous month.

“Retailers rode a steady wave of consumer spending this summer, but shopper enthusiasm could start to wane in the coming months especially as prices at the pump increase,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader. “To get consumers’ attention now and hold their interest and loyalty through the upcoming holiday season, retailers should highlight their blend of physical and virtual shopping experiences. By providing interactive, digital signage inside stores, mobile applications, and mobile point-of-sale functionality, retailers can make a strong impression on shoppers and encourage them to return whenever, wherever and however they wish.”

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FINANCE

Walgreens finalizes USA Drug deal

BY Michael Johnsen

Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens on Monday announced that it has completed its purchase of 144 stores operating under the USA Drug, Super D Drug, May’s Drug, Med-X and Drug Warehouse banners located in Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The acquisition also includes corporate offices, a distribution center located in Pine Bluff, Ark., and a wholesale and private brand business, for a total of approximately $438 million subject to adjustment in certain circumstances.

USA Drug recorded sales of $825 million in 2011, Walgreens reported.

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OPERATIONS

Kohl’s to ramp up holiday hiring by 10%

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Menomonee Falls, Wis. — Kohl’s Corp. said Tuesday it plans to hire more than 52,700 associates this holiday season, about a 10% increase over last year’s holiday hiring numbers.

Kohl’s said it anticipates hiring an average of 41 associates per store, a 4% increase over 2011, as well as 5,700 seasonal DC positions and more than 30 seasonal credit operations positions.

Hiring began this month, and most jobs will be filled by mid-November, said the retailer.

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