FINANCE

First Data report: Card spending growth stable in March

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Atlanta — A report released Tuesday by First Data Corp., which tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations, found that warm weather and spring promotions boosted discretionary spending in March.

According to First Data’s March 2012 SpendTrend report, year-over-year dollar volume growth was 8.7% in March, compared with February’s 8.9% growth.

Mild temperatures and early Easter holiday spending drove retail foot traffic despite higher gasoline prices. “The mild weather across much of the nation in March encouraged retailers to promote sales of spring merchandise, providing an additional catalyst to customer traffic,” said Silvio Tavares, senior VP and division manager of First Data Global Information and Analytics Solutions, which publishes SpendTrend.

In March, PIN debit surged to yearly highs in dollar volume and transaction growth. As a higher percentage of taxpayers elected to have their tax refunds electronically deposited into their bank accounts this year, it appears they made more discretionary purchases with PIN debit cards instead of credit cards.

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OPERATIONS

Safeway promotes CFO to president

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Pleasanton, Calif. — Safeway announced Monday that it has promoted its executive VP and CFO Robert Edwards to the position of president.

Edwards has held his current role since 2004. He will have overall responsibility for the company’s retail operations, marketing, merchandising, corporate brands, manufacturing, distribution and finance functions, and will continue as CFO until a successor is named to the position.

In other company executive news, Safeway said that executive VP Larree Renda will add real estate and information technology to her roles, as well as managing human resources and labor relations, strategic initiatives, corporate social responsibility, government relations, public affairs and Safeway Health.

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REAL ESTATE

Toronto Premium Outlets to break ground in April

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Toronto — Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group and Calloway Real Estate Investment Trust, Toronto, announced Tuesday that they will launch construction on Canada’s first upscale outlet center on April 25.

The first phase of the planned 500,000-sq.-ft. center will open in summer 2013.

Toronto Premium Outlets is a 50/50 joint venture between Calloway and Simon, and will feature more than 100 upscale outlet stores.

“We already welcome large numbers of Canadian visitors to our centers in the U.S. and look forward to serving these valued shoppers closer to their home. We see tremendous opportunity to introduce our top merchants to the Canadian market,” said John R. Klein, president of Simon’s Premium Outlets division.

Simon Property Group’s outlet portfolio comprises 70 Premium Outlet Centers, including 57 in the United States, one in Puerto Rico, eight in Japan, two in Korea and one in Mexico.

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