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Dip in Easter Spending Predicted

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C., Consumer spending this Easter may be less than in previous years, according to a new survey conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The NRF 2005 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey found that 75.9% of Americans plan to celebrate Easter, about the same percentage as last year. However, the surveyed consumers plan to spend an average of $96.51 for the holiday, down from $107.1 last Easter.

About one-third of their budgets, or an average of $30.77, will go toward food. Another $14.39 will be spent on candy. Americans celebrating Easter plan to spend an average of $14.66 on clothing and $14.86 on gifts.

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Wal-Mart Gasses Up

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart Stores is building its own gasoline stations, according to a report in The Dallas Morning Star. The chain has been partnering with other companies, primarily Arkansas-based Murphy Oil Corp., to operate gasoline pumps in more than 800 of its store parking lots under lease arrangements. But the chain is now opening stations under its own brand, with locations at Sam’s Clubs in Virginia and at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pineville, Mo.

Oil Express, a weekly newsletter, quoted sources in Monday’s edition as saying the chain plans to open up to 200 to 300 stations within a year or so and that its total could exceed 500 later this decade.

“The expansion of Wal-Mart’s gasoline marketing program is fueled by the success the firm has seen in marrying a competitive offering at the pump to lift inside-store sales,” Oil Express said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sharon Weber said that she wasn’t aware of any expansion plans.

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Cost Plus CEO Steps Down

BY CSA STAFF

Oakland, Calif., The chairman, CEO, and president of Cost Plus, Murray Dashe, has stepped down and plans to retire, the specialty retailer announced today. Danny Gurr, who has served as company director since 1995, has been appointed interim president and CEO while a replacement is sought. In addition, Fredric M. Roberts, a company director since 1999, has been named non-executive chairman of the board.

“On behalf of the board, we thank Murray for his efforts over the past seven years and his role in helping grow the company from 58 stores to a nationwide chain of 236 stores with annual sales approaching $1 billion,” said Gurr in a statement. “We have a strong and experienced team of dedicated employees to execute our strategies and several key initiatives that we have undertaken to strengthen our brand and increase returns for our investors.”

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