News

Major Retailers Make More Major Contributions for Katrina Relief

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark., Following President George W. Bush’s announcement yesterday that he and former president Bill Clinton will lead a national fundraising effort to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott contacted President Bush and the White House and committed $15 million. That donation is on the heels of a $2 million cash donation by the retailer just a few days ago.

As part of the new commitment, Wal-Mart will establish mini Wal-Mart stores in areas impacted by the storm. Items such as clothing, diapers, food, toiletries, bedding and water will be given out free of charge to hurricane victims in need.

Sears and Kmart have joined the philanthropic efforts as well, committing up to $1 million to support Gulf Coast residents.

Sears Holding Corp. is donating about $500,000 in merchandise and gift cards to the American Red Cross, along with $500,000 in matching funds.

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News

Lowe’s to Fund Expansion

BY CSA STAFF

Mooresville, N.C., Home improvement retailer Lowe’s has announced that it will invest about $150 million to expand its distribution network and improve its ability to supply stores.

. A new regional distribution center in Lebanon, Ore., will be built, and the company has announced plans to expand three existing centers in Valdosta, Ga., Statesville, N.C., and North Vernon, Ind.

The retailer’s expansion also includes opening 150 new stores in fiscal 2005 and up to 160 stores in fiscal 2006. Lowe’s distribution network currently includes 11 regional distribution centers nationwide.

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FINANCE

Solid August for Many Retailers

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Soaring gas prices did not deter consumers from shopping in August. A diverse group of retailers, including Costco Wholesale Corp., Wet Seal Inc., Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney Co. and Nordstrom, reported strong results for the month. Although many retailers beat Wall Street expectations, Wal-Mart’s sales came in slightly below analysts’ estimates as low-income shoppers felt the sting of higher energy costs.

Not all retailers, however, enjoyed a solid August. Limited Brands Inc. and Gap Inc. both reported sales drops. Limited suffered a 3% drop in same-store sales for the month, while Gap Inc.’s same-store sales were down 9%.

As for September, the impact of Katrina is still unclear, but worries are mounting that the fallout will slow what has been a steadily growing economy and reverse the steady gain in job gains. The latest news from the Labor Department on job claims, announced today, was not encouraging. The government said the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 last week to a seven-week high of 320,000. Those claims are expected to rise significantly in the week ahead as laid-off workers in New Orleans and other areas hit by Hurricane Katrina file claims.

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