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Know How to Hold ’Em

BY CSA STAFF

Retailers are finding it harder and harder to hold onto employees. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, which polled both retail employers and employees, nearly half (48%) of the surveyed retail employers say that retaining employees is more difficult than last year.

The survey also found that 28% of retail employees plan to leave their current jobs within the next year; 46% intend to leave within two years. Reasons for the quick exits, according to the employees polled, are lack of career-advancement opportunities, unsatisfactory pay, increased workload and work-life balance concerns.

Other findings of the survey include:

Eighty-one percent of retail employers plan to hire new employees in 2007; 42% say the inability to find qualified workers is the biggest impediment to hiring; and

While 62% of retail employees report they are satisfied overall with their current jobs, 69% say they are either actively seeking a new position or would be open to a new job if they came across one.

“Turnover isn’t a new challenge for retailers. However, as the labor pool continues to shrink and retailers feel the pressure from consumers to keep doors open longer…many retailers are embracing more competitive hiring and retention programs,” said Rosemary Haefner, VP of human resources for CareerBuilder.com.

Haefner made the following recommendations for improving recruitment and retention efforts:

Break through the clutter with your job postings, ensuring that they communicate an employee brand that is accomplishment-based;

Be specific in job postings, outlining specifically the salaries and all benefits; and

Measure employee satisfaction regularly, whether through informal discussions or organization-wide surveys.

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Sears comps hurt by energy costs

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Sears Holdings today reported net income of $216 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended May 5, compared with net income of $180 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended April 29, 2006.

“In part, our domestic operating results reflect the impact of some of the same challenges being faced by our customers, such as rising energy costs and a slower housing market,” said Aylwin Lewis, Sears Holdings’ ceo and president. “However, as an organization, we need to overcome these factors by better controlling costs and developing innovative solutions that better meet our customers’ needs and allow us to generate a more reasonable level of profitability even in the face of such challenges.”

Domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.9% during the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Sears domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.4% for the quarter, while Kmart comparable-store sales declined 4.4%. We believe these declines reflect both increased competition and the impact of external factors such as rising energy costs, a slower housing market and poor weather conditions during the latter part of the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Kmart experienced lower transaction volumes across most merchandise categories, most notably within home goods, health and beauty products, and food and consumables. Similarly, Sears domestic recorded comparable-store sales declines across most merchandise categories and formats, with a notable decline in home appliance sales, which we believe reflects both a slower U.S. housing market and the impact of increased competition.

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Big Lots 1Q net sales up 3.4%

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio Big Lots today reported first quarter fiscal 2007 income from continuing operations of $29 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, compared to income from continuing operations of $14.5 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2006. Including the impact of discontinued operations, first quarter fiscal 2007 net income totaled $28.8 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, compared to $13.7 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, in the prior year.

Net sales for the first quarter ended May 5, increased 3.4% to $1.13 billion, compared to $1.1 billion for the same period in fiscal 2006. Comparable-store sales for stores open at least two years at the beginning of the fiscal year increased 4.9% for the quarter.

For the second quarter 2007, the company expects income from continuing operations of 7 cents to 10 cents per share versus income from continuing operations of 4 cents per share last year. Comparable-store sales are expected to increase 2% to 4%, compared to a 5.2% comparable-store sales increase recorded last year.

For fiscal 2007, the company expects income from continuing operations of $1.25 to $1.30 per share versus income from continuing operations of $1.01 per share last year.

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