FINANCE

NRF: Credit-card companies in race to increase swipe fees

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation on Thursday warned Congress that credit-card companies are in an “arms race” to increase the $48 billion in “swipe” fees paid by merchants and their customers each year.

NRF also urged the passage of legislation that would put rules governing the fees under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission.

“There is an arms race to create cards with higher fees and more bells and whistles,” NRF senior VP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “The market checks that would normally exist to curb this escalation in fees are diminished because the card companies know that every merchant is required to take these expensive new cards or lose their ability to accept any cards.”

Duncan said that the Welch-Shuster bill would allow the most expensive cards to be refused. Although the company expects that few merchants would actually refuse cards if this were passed, it would make the card companies think before they reflexively introduce cards with higher fees, Duncan said.

“Most consumers don’t know it, but every time they swipe a rewards card with its miles and concierge services, they are driving up the price of everything they buy even higher,” Duncan said. The bill would require credit-card companies to disclose interchange rates, terms and conditions, and give the Federal Trade Commission authority to review interchange and prohibit any practices that violate consumer protection or anti-competition laws.

Merchants would be allowed to give cash discounts and set minimum credit-card purchase amounts, and could choose which credit cards to accept.

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A.C. Moore hopes to ‘craft a better world’

BY CSA STAFF

BERLIN, N.J. A.C. Moore announced that it has launched a new initiative called “Crafting a Better World” to give crafters a way to give back to the community.

The initiative kicked off last week in honor of A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts’ 24th anniversary, with a partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a national network of 4,300 neighborhood-based Boys & Girls Clubs serving more than 4.5 million young people annually through membership and community outreach.

 

“Crafting a Better World takes our community relations efforts to the next level by adding an ambitious, new program through which we will collaborate with our customers to make a direct impact on the communities in which they live and work,” said Rick Lepley, CEO of A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts. “Our first Crafting a Better World partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, is an ideal fit for our company with its emphasis on kids, education and creativity. Our 133 stores will work with their local chapter of that organization to help their customers give back to their own community. As we move forward, we look forward to partnerships with other non-profit organizations throughout the regions we serve.”

 

During the next five weeks, A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts stores will be hosting crafting parties for participants in local Boys & Girls Clubs. During this same time period, the company is encouraging customers to drop off new or gently used craft supplies at their local A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts for donation to their local Boys & Girls Club. Customers can also add $1 to their bill at check out for donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. A.C. Moore will donate an additional $500 to the organization to honor its store which raises the most money.

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Family Dollar FY net income up 24.7%

BY CSA STAFF

MATTHEWS, N.C. Family Dollar Stores reported that net income per diluted share for the year ended Aug. 29 increased 24.7% to $2.07 compared with $1.66 for the year ended Aug. 30, 2008. Net income for the year increased 25% to $291.3 million compared with net income of $233.1 million for fiscal 2008.

“Despite the challenges resulting from a rapidly changing economic environment, our team has delivered a strong performance this year, driving improvements across most key metrics, including increased customer traffic, operating margin expansion, earnings-per-share growth, greater inventory productivity and higher employee retention,” said Howard Levine, chairman and CEO.

 

Commenting on the company’s outlook for fiscal 2010, Levine said, “While predicting near-term economic conditions remains difficult, we believe that the current consumer focus on saving money will remain strong in 2010. Our strategy of providing value and convenience positions us well to deliver sustainable growth for our shareholders as the economy stabilizes and improves.”

 

For fiscal 2010, the company expects net sales will increase 5% to 7% as compared with fiscal 2009. The company expects comparable-store sales will increase 3% to 5% and expects to open approximately 200 new stores.

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