REAL ESTATE

Eastern Mountain Sports announces three new locations

BY Staff Writer

Peterborough, N.H. — Eastern Mountain Sports announced plans to open three stores during the next three months.

The company is moving an existing location at the Plaza at Buckland Hills in Manchester, Conn., approximately 12 storefronts down into a new, 18,831-sq.-ft. site. It also is opening a 20,442-sq.-ft. store in South Portland, Maine, and a 13,013-sq.-ft, location in North Brunswick, N.J.

“These three new stores are part of our ongoing strategy to expand our presence in the Northeast to better serve outdoor athletes from novice to expert,” said Eastern Mountain Sports CEO Will Manzer.

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FINANCE

Walgreens’ March sales down

BY Michael Johnson

Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens posted March sales of $6 billion, a decrease of 4.3%, compared with the same month in fiscal year 2011.

“We continued to see growth in our front-end business, and with Easter falling on April 8 this year, we anticipate that much of our Easter sales will be reflected in our April results,” Walgreens EVP and CFO Wade Miquelon said. “In addition, our new advertising circular strategy has helped drive profitable sales.” Walgreens launched its new weekly ad circular, with additional online savings, in mid-February.

Prescriptions filled at comparable stores decreased 11.4% in March. The negative impact on comparable store prescriptions filled due to no longer being part of the Express Scripts pharmacy network was 10.7 percentage points. Calendar day shifts in March, which had one additional Friday and Saturday, and one fewer Tuesday and Wednesday, compared with March 2011, negatively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 2.1 percentage points. And lower incidence of flu negatively impacted comparable store prescriptions filled by 0.7 percentage points.

March pharmacy sales decreased 8.4%, while comparable-store pharmacy sales decreased 11.1%.

Total front-end sales were down 2.5%, compared with the year-ago period, though comparable store front-end sales were up 1.2%. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 1%, while basket size increased 2.2%. Sales in comparable stores decreased by 6.8%. The effect of calendar day shifts negatively impacted total comparable sales by 1.3 percentage points.

Calendar year-to-date sales were $17.7 billion, a decrease of 1.8% from $18 billion in 2011. Fiscal 2012 year-to-date sales for the first seven months were $42.8 billion, up 1.6% from $42.1 billion in fiscal 2011.

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OPERATIONS

Deloitte survey finds consumers more optimistic; looking to shop more at discount stores

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — More than half of consumers (67%) said they plan to spend the same or more at retailers than they did last year, a nine percentage point increase from last year, according to the 2012 Spring Consumer Pulse Survey by Deloitte. Consumers also feel slightly better about the economy this year than last; 57% of survey respondents said the economy has been recently recovering, compared with 52% last year.

Discount stores were the overwhelming favorite when consumers were asked which retail venue they expected to shop more in 2012 than last year, with 72% of respondents selecting this category. Online-only retailers was a distant second (35%), followed by dollar stores and warehouse clubs (tied at 33%).

The survey confirms the increasing popularity of digital channels. Almost two-thirds (65%) said they are shopping more online to get the best product or price, up 13% points from last year. And in deciding what to buy, 45% said they rely more on online recommendations/comments from others than they do marketing messages from retailers.

Social networking and mobile activity are up, with 46% of smartphone owners indicating they have used phones to research product prices online – up 10 percentage points from 2011. And 45% of respondents said they interact with retailers through social networking sites.

Despite the positive sentiments, however, inflation remains a top concern.

When asked what might cause them to hold back spending in the months ahead, 76% said higher prices generally, followed by higher energy costs (69%) and higher medical bills (44 %).

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