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Disney undertaking ambitious revamp of mall stores

BY CSA STAFF

New York City The Walt Disney Co. is giving its approximate 340 stores in the United States and Europe an extensive — and costly — high-tech makeover. The remake, influenced by Apple CEO and Disney board member Steve Jobs, will shift the spaces from a typical retail store to one where customers will have more of an entertainment and interactive experience, according to The New York Times.

The revamped stores, which might experience a name change to Imagination Park, according to the report, will have many interactive elements. For example, children will be able to watch Disney film clips of their own selection in theaters, participate in karaoke contests and chat live with Disney Channel stars via satellite.

The company plans to unveil the new look in May, in Long Island, N.Y., Southern California and Madrid, and is close to signing a lease for a flagship in New York City’s Times Square, the Times said.

Jobs joined Disney’s board in 2006 with the company’s acquisition of Pixar. Although he did not personally work on the new Disney store concept, Jobs pushed Disney to move far past a standard refurbishment, the Times reported, and provided access to proprietary information about the development and operation of Apple’s stores. The redone Disney stores will feature such Apple touches as mobile checkout and an emphasis on community.

During the next five years, analysts estimate that Disney will spend about $1 million per location to redo and install interactive technology in its stores, according to the Times.

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‘Straight Talk’ about Walmart’s new no-contract cellular service

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart announced that it will launch Straight Talk, a new solution in no-contract cellular, exclusively at more than 3,200 Walmart stores nationwide starting Oct. 18. According to the company, Straight Talk will bring to the market a new low price for no-contract wireless service with two prepaid plans now available to customers nationwide at $30 and $45 a month. Straight Talk will only be available in Walmart stores and online at www.Walmart.com and www.StraightTalk.com.

Walmart said it initially offer customers the option of an “All You Need” 30-day plan for $30 a month that includes 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30MB of mobile Web access, nationwide coverage and 411 Information calls at no extra charge or its Unlimited 30-day plan for $45 a month that includes unlimited minutes, unlimited text, unlimited mobile Web access, nationwide coverage and unlimited 411information calls at no extra charge

“It has been very encouraging to see the excitement and response to the Straight Talk pilot in 234 stores that began last summer at Walmart,” said Greg Hall, VP media services for Walmart U.S. “In light of the savings customers continue to need, we have worked very quickly to extend this offering to all of our Walmart customers nationwide, and just before the holidays.”

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Spartan Stores experiences decreased comps

BY CSA STAFF

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores reported that consolidated net sales for the 12-week second quarter were $610.2 million compared with $626.8 million in the same period last year. According to the company, sales were negatively affected by price deflation in certain primary product categories, significantly lower retail fuel prices, a shift in the mix towards more private label products and the general economic environment.

Net earnings for the quarter were $10.4 million, or 46 cents per diluted share, compared with $10.6 million, or 48 cents per diluted share in last year’s second quarter. Last year’s second-quarter net earnings included a loss from discontinued operations of $1 million, or 4 cents per diluted share, related to the Pharm store exit and operational wind down costs.

 

Second-quarter retail net sales increased 11.3% to $360.2 million from $323.5 million in the same period last year. The retail segment experienced a 5.1% decline in comparable-store sales due to significant deflation in the meat, produce and dairy categories, competitive store openings, unseasonably cool weather in Michigan and the weak economic environment.

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