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Hess files to spin off retail business

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Hess Retail Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of global energy company Hess Corporation, has filed a Form 10 Registration Statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The form contains a preliminary information statement about the potential terms and conditions of a spin-off of Hess Retail Corporation to the stockholders of Hess Corporation.

It also includes information about Hess Retail Corporation as a standalone company, including financial, capital structure, business, risk factor and management and governance information. Hess Corporation has received a Private Letter Ruling from the Internal Revenue Service that will allow it to distribute the business to stockholders in a tax-free spin-off.

Simultaneous with pursuing a spin of the retail business, Hess Corporation will also solicit offers to purchase the entire retail business from potential buyers. Following receipt of any such offers, the Hess Corporation board of directors will determine which alternative it believes best serves the long-term interests of all Hess Corporation stockholders.

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J.C. Penney reports “pleasing” performance

BY CSA STAFF

J.C. Penney provided an ambiguous update on its holiday season performance, indicating it showed continued progress in its turnaround efforts and was “pleased” with its performance.

The company released a brief and vague statement Wednesday morning in which it noted, “customers responded well to the company’s offerings this holiday season, both in stores and online.”

J.C. Penney affirmed an equally vague outlook shared with investors on Nov. 20, 2013, when the company reported third quarter results. At the time, the company said it expected same store sales and gross margins to improve sequentially from the 4.8% comp decline and 29.5% gross margin rate reported during the third quarter.

Additional guidance called for expenses to decline and in a nod to those who were forecasting the company’s demise in advance of the holidays it forecast year end total availability liquidity in excess of $2 billion.

The company did not provide an earnings forecast in conjunction with its third quarter results, but two weeks later on Dec. 3, in another move to appease anxious investors, the company disclosed that November same store sales had increased 10.1%. Then, as now, the company noted it was “pleased” with its performance. However with its most recent announcement J.C. Penney stopped short of quantifying the magnitude of its pleasure.

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ShopperTrak: December 2013

BY CSA STAFF

Despite the short holiday season, December was still the biggest shopping month of the year.

Shopper traffic up more than one-third over November

Shoppers visited more stores in December 2013 than they did in any other month of the year. Despite retailers’ best efforts to promote Black Friday sales heavily in November and open even earlier on Thanksgiving Day, they saw shopper traffic increase 35% in December 2013 compared to the previous month.

The week of Christmas, even with the low traffic Christmas Day wedged in the middle, featured four of the top 10 shopping days of the month: Dec. 22, Dec. 23, Dec. 26, and Dec. 28. Christmas week also produced the most shopper traffic of any week in 2013.

Weather and holiday timing push December shopper traffic down compared to 2012

As anticipated, although up over the previous month, December 2013 shopper traffic did not keep pace with traffic from December 2012, down 17.7 percent. With Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving in 2013, the December traffic usually associated with this holiday was not a factor in the 2013 data. Winter also had a greater impact on shopper traffic in December 2013 than a year ago, with more snow and cold than the December 2012 shopping season, leading more consumers to stay home and shop online for holiday purchases versus last year.

“December continues to be the strongest month for retailers, with the weeks leading up to Christmas including many of the busiest retail days of the year,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “As anticipated, the shortened holiday season and timing of Hanukkah shopping led to a dip in shopper traffic versus last year. And, while weather and consumer preferences drove more people to buy online, brick-and-mortar sales remain retail’s largest profit opportunity. Retailers who deliver a seamless, high-quality customer experience across all channels will continue to capture more share of wallet.”

ShopperTrak’s data and analyses in this article are based on counting billions of shoppers in more than 60,000 locations across 90 countries. ShopperTrak counts more retail foot traffic than any other company in the world. The retail technology company collects and analyzes anonymous foot traffic, queue times and shopper demographics to identify revenue opportunities. Find out more at www.shoppertrak.com.

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