News

Kroger, Virginia Union Reach Agreement

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati, The Kroger Co. has reached a tentative agreement with the union representing about 3,500 Kroger associates at 47 stores in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Details have not yet been released.

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News

Sales Rise in September

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C., Though the month of September was burdened with the impact of two hurricanes and much higher gas prices, retail sales continued to rise. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail industry sales for September (which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) rose a vigorous 7.0% unadjusted over last year and increased 0.8% seasonally adjusted from August. The gains, which led third-quarter sales to rise 6.4% over 2004, were stronger than NRF had been expecting.

“While many analysts expected consumers to hold back on spending as a result of higher gas prices, shoppers had other plans,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “This is a good sign for retailers as they head into the holiday season.”

September retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) rose 0.2% seasonally adjusted from August and increased 7.1% unadjusted year-over-year. Gasoline sales, which NRF does not include in its calculation of retail industry sales, rose 36.2% unadjusted from last September.

Robust growth was seen in nearly every retail category last month, including furniture and home furnishings stores, which rose 1.2% adjusted from August and climbed an impressive 9.3% unadjusted over last year. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers also saw a surge, with sales rising 1.0% from August and 9.3% adjusted over last year. Additionally, strong year-over-year gains were seen at electronics and appliances stores (6.3%), food and beverage stores (6.1%), health and personal-care stores (7.6%), and clothing and clothing accessories stores (5.8%).

NRF expects retail industry sales to increase 5.6% this year over 2004. Holiday sales, which are defined as retail industry sales in the full months of November and December, are expected to rise 5.0% to $435.3 billion.

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FINANCE

FMI Prediction: $5 per Gallon of Gas

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C., In efforts to compete with market leaders or to fill specific niches within the industry, flourishing supermarket companies are investing in customers, employees and technology, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI’s) annual state-of-the-industry report.

For the first time, the report contained predictions for future food retailing trends. It identified the disintegration of large chains into smaller companies, the continual rise of gasoline prices to $5 per gallon and federal requirements for warning labels on high-calorie foods.

Cost-driven competition remains a key aspect of the industry, as it is compelling retailers to invent solutions for growth, especially via efficiency-improving technology upgrades, customer research and innovative products.

Store identity and differentiation are improved by specialty categories such as organic items, seasonal offerings, prepared foods, ethnic foods and fuel service. Major industry concerns in the report mainly consisted of the rapidly rising costs of credit and debit transactions, health-care premiums and energy bills.

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