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Michelle Obama visits Chicago Walgreens to promote health

BY Staff Writer

Deerfield, Ill. — First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday toured a Walgreens store on Chicago’s South Side to view the company’s efforts to fight the childhood obesity epidemic and provide better food options and accessible health care to under-served communities.

The event was part of a mayoral summit hosted by the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Mrs. Obama visited the same Walgreens store that earlier this year expanded its food offering to include produce and other basic grocery staples. Prior to the store’s expansion, there wasn’t a convenient location in the community to access these types of healthy food options. The store is one of a dozen Walgreens locations in Chicago neighborhoods identified as food deserts that act as food oasis stores. These stores increased their food selection by up to 60%.

As part of her Let’s Move! initiative, Mrs. Obama has focused on the issue of access to healthy, affordable food as a key pillar of her fight to end childhood obesity within a generation.

“Imagine what we could achieve if mayors across the country started taking on this issue,” said Mrs. Obama. “Think about all the jobs we could create, all the neighborhoods we could begin to transform and what it means when our children finally get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy.”

“Walgreens is in a great position to be a true community resource as a retail health and daily living destination,” said Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson. “In communities like this, we are the healthcare hub with access to prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, expanded health care services such as medication counseling, clinic services and health testing, and daily living needs that include healthy food choices.”

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Deloitte survey: Consumers still spending on holidays despite economic concern

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — Despite concerns about the economy and rising household expenses, nearly three out of five (59%) of consumers will put aside economic worries and spend the same or more this holiday season, according to Deloitte’s 26th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends. While this is a slight decline from 2010, it represents an eight percentage point increase from 2009.

“Lackluster employment growth, debt crises and stock market fluctuations have battered consumer confidence while inflation left many with lighter wallets this fall,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail & distribution leader, Deloitte LLP. “Consumers will be conservative this holiday season, but remain resilient and maintain a more positive interest in holiday shopping than we witnessed during the recession.”

Among holiday shopping destinations, the Internet and discount stores are at the top of the list, with 48%) of consumers planning to shop these two destinations for holiday gifts. While online interest climbed, discounters slid 10 percentage points from the 2010.

More than one-quarter (27%) of smartphone owners plan to use their devices for holiday shopping to search for store locations (67%), compare prices (59%) and check product availability (46%). Additionally, 44% plan to use social media to seek discounts, read reviews and check family and friends’ gift lists.

“Consumers are using online and mobile platforms to make the most of their holiday budgets, and the survey indicates that they will do more than just compare prices,” said Paul. “Retailers that use mobile and online channels to show product availability, locations and pricing but add customized promotions and gift ideas may encourage shoppers to come in the door for a specific gift and take additional items to the register.”

In other survey findings:

  • Of the 68% of consumers who plan to change the way they shop to save money, 51% plan to head online to find better prices – up 10% from last year – while 46% plan to buy more items that qualify for free shipping.
  • More than half of consumers (53%) plan to begin shopping before Thanksgiving, but 73% intend to hold out until after this holiday to make the majority of their purchases.
  • Apparel ranked as the most popular holiday gift (48%), followed by gift cards (45%, down 11% from last year).
  • Higher-income households’ gift spending will hold up while middle- and lower-income groups are paring back. Households earning $100,000 or more annually expect to trim gift spending by 2% to shell out an average of $812 on gifts, compared with a 26% drop to $291 on gifts among those earning less than $100,000.

For more on the survey, go to deloitte.com/us/2011HolidaySurvey.

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Amazon Kindles sales, but profits disappoint

BY CSA STAFF

SEATTLE — The popularity of Amazon.com’s Kindle e-readers continues to help boost Amazon.com’s sales. However, net income for the third quarter was disappointing.

Amazon.com reported that net sales for the third quarter increased44% to $10.88 billion in the third quarter, compared with $7.56 billion in third quarter 2010.Net income decreased 73% to $63 million in the third quarter, or 14 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $231 million, or 51 cents per diluted share, in third quarter 2010.

“September 28th was the biggest order day ever for Kindle, even bigger than previous holiday peak days – we introduced Kindle Fire for $199, Kindle Touch 3G for $149, Kindle Touch for $99, and our all new Kindle for only $79,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “In the three weeks since launch, orders for electronic ink Kindles are double the previous launch. And based on what we’re seeing with Kindle Fire pre-orders, we’re increasing capacity and building millions more than we’d already planned.”

For the fourth quarter, Amazon.com expects net sales to be between $16.45 billion and $18.65 billion, or to grow between 27% and 44% compared with fourth quarter 2010.Operating income (loss) is expected to be between $(200) million and $250 million, or between 142% decline and 47% decline compared with fourth quarter 2010.

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