FINANCE

First Data report: BTS boosts card spending in August

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Atlanta — First Data Corp. reported Wednesday that consumers responded well to back-to-school and summer clearance sales in August, prompting an increase in August same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.

The First Data SpendTrend analysis, which tracks year-over-year overall dollar volume growth, was up 7.2% in August, the largest increase since March 2012. Transaction growth increased 6.5%, also a five-month high. Overall average ticket growth increased 0.6% in August. While higher gas prices contributed to the increase, most industry categories saw higher average tickets compared to July as consumers were in a more favorable mood to spend.

Dollar volume growth at general merchandise stores (including value retail) was up 11.0%, the second-largest growth in the past 12 months, as consumers flocked to these stores for back-to-school supplies. Dollar volume growth at health and personal care stores also posted strong growth of 8.0%.

“Consumer spending got a boost in August as consumers took advantage of back-to-school and seasonal clearance sales. Last year, August 2011 growth was particularly strong so the difficult comps made the results all the more impressive,” said Rikard Bandebo, VP and economist, First Data. “Also, a slightly earlier Labor Day holiday this year may have shifted some purchases into August. Merchants will be watching carefully to see if consumers can sustain this positive momentum in future months.”

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FINANCE

Piccadilly Restaurants files for bankruptcy

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Baton Rouge, La. — Cafeteria-style restaurant chain Piccadilly Restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, citing a breakdown in talks with its lender Atalaya Capital Management.

Atalaya had recently purchased part of Piccadilly’s debt, which hasn’t been quantified by the chain.

Piccadilly was given a commitment for debtor in possession financing of up to $5 million, providing the company with ample liquidity, Piccadilly said.

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REAL ESTATE

Natural Grocers to open seven stores by spring 2013

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Denver — Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage said Wednesday it plans to open seven new stores by March 2013, bringing the total count to 64 in 12 states.

In addition, the company said it has relocated and expanded one of its flagship Denver stores.

The seven new stores will be opened during the next six months in Sedona, Ariz.; Steamboat Springs, Colo.; Helena and Missoula, Mont.; Omaha, Neb.; and Denton and Lubbock, Texas.

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