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Forecast: Outlook improved for 2010

BY CSA STAFF

Columbus, Ohio Retail Forward released its economic forecast Tuesday, predicting that retail sales will show quarter-by-quarter improvement in 2010 and approach long-term average growth rates by the end of the year.

A Kantar Retail company, Retail Forward’s 2010 forecast for retail sales excluding the auto and fuel channels is an increase of 1.5% to 2.0% in the first two quarters of the year and a step up to 3.0% to 4.0% growth in the second half of the year as job and income growth start to re-emerge.

“The first clear sign that retail sales are on the path to recovery came during the holiday,” said Frank Badillo, senior economist for Retail Forward. “Keeping retail sales on this recovery path will require — more than anything — a return of job and income growth.”

Retail Forward said that retail sales growth in 2010 will be led by the channels that performed strongest during the holiday, including non-store and online; food, drug and mass (FDM); and soft goods. Retail sales excluding the auto and fuel channels grew 1.2% in the fourth-quarter holiday period, ending four consecutive quarters of declines. When supermarkets, restaurants and drug stores are also excluded, sales rose 0.9% in the key holiday channels that sell most holiday gifts.

“As we head into 2010, non-store and online sales will remain strong as shoppers continue to shift demand for consumer electronics and other categories online,” Badillo said. Also leading growth will be apparel stores, particularly off-mall value specialty stores, and small-ticket discretionary categories.

Value-focused mass retailers will also hold up well, including supercenters and warehouse clubs, according to the forecast.

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Borders to offer free resolution workshops

BY CSA STAFF

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Borders said Thursday that it is offering customers free in store events throughout the month of January to help them kick start their new year’s resolutions and learn how to keep them through the year. Programs include wellness fairs, yoga classes and diet seminars.

Borders reported that local organizations and community groups will be featured in activities and events at its stores across the country ranging from fitness centers and hospitals to singles groups and retirement centers.

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Schulze sells 440K shares of company stock

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Best Buy chairman and founder Richard Schulze sold 440,000 shares of Best Buy stock last week valued at $22.4 million. Schulze sold the stock at prices ranging from $50.71 to $51.18 per share. Earlier this month, Schulze sold 2.35 million shares valued at more than $120 million.

While Schulze’s stock sales are considerable, they represent just a fraction of his holdings at Best Buy. He’s estimated to still hold more than 68 million shares of stock amassed during 41 years with the company.

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