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NRF revises holiday forecast up to 3.3%

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation announced Tuesday it has revised its holiday forecast upward, from 2.3% to 3.3%.

The NRF cited improvements in a variety of economic indicators — including stock market gains, recent income growth and savings built up during the recession — for the upward revision.

As announced earlier on Tuesday, November retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.8% seasonally adjusted over October and 6.8% unadjusted over last year.

“The start to the holiday season has surpassed all expectations,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO, NRF. “While employment data is still a concern, we are starting to see improvement in other economic indicators that support an increase to our forecast. In order to sustain this momentum for retailers and the U.S. economy, there must be a renewed focus on jobs as we enter the new year.”

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Report: Zale exploring sale of Piercing Pagoda kiosk business

BY CSA STAFF

Dallas — A Tuesday report by Bloomberg said that Zale Corp. is exploring the sale of its Piercing Pagoda kiosk business to focus on its fine jewelry operations.

Citing three unidentified sources, Bloomberg said that buyout firms including Apollo Global Management LLC are looking at the division. Piercing Pagoda generated more than $226 million in sales for the year ended July 31, and is said to be profitable.

Zale has owned Piercing Pagoda for the last 10 years. It operates about 680 jewelry kiosks in U.S. malls. Revenue for the brand has dropped 9.3% over the past two years, according to the report, but the decline is less than one-third the decreases in the Zales and Gordon’s businesses.

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Inventories at U.S. companies climbed 0.7%, less than forecast

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — A report released Tuesday by the U.S. Commerce Department said that inventories in the United States rose 0.7% in October, less than forecast. The rise was restrained by the biggest drop in retail stockpiles in more than a year as merchants had trouble keeping up with surging demand.

The increase in inventories compared with a 1.4% jump in sales in October that was the biggest gain in seven months, the Commerce Department said. The September increase in stockpiles was revised up to 1.3% from a previously reported 0.9% advance.

Companies had enough goods on hand to supply 1.27 month’s worth of sales at October’s pace, less than in the prior month.

“We have to see strong sales to support the inventory numbers,” Robert Dye, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Economists forecast inventories would rise 1%, according to the median of 51 projections in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from gains of 0.1% to 1.5%.

Retailers’ inventories decreased 0.6% in October as sales jumped 1.8%, the most since March. Inventories at auto dealers and building material stores led the drop.

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