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NPD: Holiday consumer electronic sales down 5.9%

BY Staff Writer

Las Vegas — Sales of consumer electronics fell 5.9% this past holiday season, as smartphones cannibalize sales of standalone gadgets like cameras, camcorders and GPS navigation devices, according to the NPD Group.

Electronics sales, including TVs and PCs, totaled $9.5 billion in the five weeks ending Dec. 24, NPD reported. Camcorder sales fell 43% and sales of digital picture frames were down 38%. GPS units decreased 33%. Television sales were down 4%, bolstered by sales of TVs bigger than 50 inches.

Cell phone sales are not included in the report.

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Christopher & Banks announces change in fiscal year end

BY Staff Writer

Minneapolis — Christopher & Banks Corp. announced that its board of directors approved a change in the company’s fiscal year-end to the Saturday nearest to the end of January, rather than the Saturday nearest to the end of February.

The retailer said the change, which is effective for the company’s current fiscal year, will provide certain benefits, including aligning its reporting periods to be more consistent with that of other specialty retail companies.

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Walmart preps for tax season

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart announced that it is helping customers prepare for tax season by offering low-cost tax preparation preparation services and free in-store federal Form 1040EZ filing. In addition, the retailer provides $3 and $6 check-cashing services.

"We believe Americans shouldn’t have to pay exorbitant prices on their everyday financial needs," said Daniel Eckert, vice president of Walmart Financial Services. "It’s their money and we want to make sure they can cash checks, pay bills and transfer money at a low price."

According to Walmart, its low-cost check-cashing services can be used by customers to cash their tax refunds without being penalized financially. The average tax refund is $2,902 which means Americans could spend up to $90 just to receive their tax refund, Walmart said.

"Customers need to make every dollar count in this tough economy, and that’s why we’re committed to helping customers pay less for their financial services during tax season and throughout the year," said Eckert. "With more than 3,000 tax preparation kiosks in Walmart stores across the U.S. and low flat-fee check cashing services, our customers can conveniently make their refund dollars stretch farther by simply taking care of their tax needs at Walmart."

Walmart said it has worked with Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block to double its in-store tax kiosks and lower the cost for tax preparation services. Jackson Hewitt will offer free federal Form 1040EZ filing at its Walmart kiosks throughout the tax season and H&R Block will offer a free federal Form 1040EZ until Feb. 29. H&R Block will have 250 kiosks in Walmart stores, while Jackson Hewitt is adding approximately 800 kiosks bringing their Walmart footprint to 2,800.

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