FINANCE

Fitch: Holiday Sales to be Weakest in 20 Years

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Sales during the 2008 holiday season could be the weakest in two decades as consumers cut back on spending, and department stores, specialty apparel and electronics retailers are likely to be the hardest hit, according to credit-ratings agency Fitch Ratings Services.

Fitch said it expects consumer spending to continue to decline in the fourth quarter and into 2009.

Fitch estimates personal expenditures are expected to fall 1.6% in 2009 and remain low in 2010.

“Consumers’ wealth, incomes and capacity to borrow are being constrained by rising unemployment and job uncertainty, higher cost and reduced availability of household credit and falling real estate and equity prices,” according to the Fitch report.

Those negative pressures will outweigh any benefit from falling gas prices and other costs, the report said.

Among the retailers Fitch covers, 36% have negative ratings outlooks, compared to 15% a year earlier.

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Bath & Body Works exec joins Timex board

BY CSA STAFF

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. Timex Group B.V. announced that Camille McDonald, Bath & Body Works’ president of brand development and merchandising, and a 30-year veteran of the beauty industry, has joined the company’s board of directors.

“Camille McDonald is a prolific and multidimensional leader whose competencies and experience encompass product and brand development, sales, integrated marketing functions and general management—in both broad-based and luxury segments—for wholesale as well as retail businesses,” said Anette Olsen, chairman of Timex Group. “We are excited to welcome her to the Timex Group board of directors.”

Since joining Bath & Body Works in August 2004 as evp of brand development and merchandising, McDonald has worked with cross-functional teams to reinvent the multibillion dollar personal care specialty retailer into a beauty juggernaut of the world’s best and biggest brands in fragrance, skin care, hair, apothecary and spa. During her time with the company, Bath & Body Works has delivered a record performance.

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Walmart draws attention to food deals

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart announced that as part of its Operation Main Street program, it will reduce food prices every week to help offset the cost of Christmas. According to the company, this will save Americans more than $200 million over and above its everyday low prices this holiday.

To alert shoppers about its latest savings, Walmart has launched “Saving Alerts,” a service that enables customers to learn about the latest discounts via free text messages to their cell phones. In addition, Walmart’s Ad Match policy assures customers that their Walmart will match any local competitor’s advertised price on the exact same item, alleviating the need for shoppers to drive all over town to get the very best value.

“We want all customers shopping our food aisles this season to know the trust they have in us to help them save money is well placed,” said Jack Sinclair, evp of grocery, at Walmart Stores US. “Last year we saved families an average of $700 on the same packaged grocery items sold at other supermarkets. We plan to keep on helping families stretch their dollars this holiday with prices that make a meaningful difference to their budget.” .

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