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NRF: Spending on Father’s Day to top $12.5 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — The average person will spend $113.80 on neckties, tools, electronics and other special gifts for Father’s Day, slightly down from $119.84 last year, according to NRF’s 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $12.5 billion.

“While most people (64.1%) will simply say thank you to dad with a greeting card, four-in-10 (41.6%) will treat dad to new apparel items such as neckties and sweaters, spending a total of $1.8 billion, while another 42.6 percent will celebrate with special outings such as dinner or a tickets to a sporting event, spending a total of $2.5 billion.

The survey also found that those celebrating Father’s Day will spend $1.6 billion on electronic gifts like smartphones and tablets, and $1.8 billion on gift cards, letting dad pick his own special gift.

Shoppers will look for gifts at a variety of locations, including discount stores (28.1%), online (28.4%) and specialty stores (24.2%); 16.6% say they plan to support their communities and shop at a local or small business to find gift items for dad. Most shoppers, however, will head to dad’s favorite department store (35.8%).

“On-the-go shoppers will use their smartphones and tablets to research and purchase gifts for dad this year. Nearly one-quarter of smartphone owners (23.4%) will research products and compare prices on gifts using their smartphone, and three-in-10 tablet owners (30.6%) will do the same. Nearly one-in-five (18.2%) will purchase products with their tablet for Father’s Day.

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Anna’s Linens selects EarthLink managed network service, voice connectivity

BY Marianne Wilson

Atlanta — EarthLink Holdings Corp., a managed network and cloud services provider, announced that Anna’s Linens have selected the company to provide a comprehensive managed network solution and SIP Trunking for voice over IP for its more than three hundred stores and 3,200 employees.

To accommodate their rapid growth, increasingly centralized IT model, and need to run more applications, Anna’s IT leaders worked in collaboration with EarthLink partner Grauman Communications to transition to an EarthLink MPLS network and SIP Trunking.

EarthLink also prioritized their network traffic with class of service to ensure that voice and point-of-sale traffic take precedence.

"As a result of a more robust MPLS network from EarthLink, we have the security, reliability and bandwidth to run both our voice communications and critical in-store applications to support the growth of the business," said Joe Evango, director, technology services, Anna’s Linens. "Moving forward with EarthLink, we have quite a few future projects with the potential for significant additional cost savings."

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Dollar General Q1 profit edges up, but disappoints; opening 700 stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Goodlettsville, Tenn. — Dollar General Corp.’s first-quarter profit and sales missed Wall Street estimates as the retailer cited an “unfavorable’ winter, increased competition and economic challenges. The company said Tuesday its profit rose to $222.4 million, from $220.1 million year ago. The retailer also reiterated its plans to open 700 stores in fiscal 2014, and remodel, to varying degrees, another 900 existing locations.

Net sales rose to $4.52 billion, from $4.23 billion. Same-store sales rose 1.5% in the quarter.

Dollar General said sales trends began to improve in April and have continued to gain momentum.

“We are pleased to see that our merchandising strategies are gaining traction with a strengthening of sales in both consumables and non-consumables in our second quarter to date,” said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO. “Looking ahead, we are confirming our sales and EPS guidance for the year, and we are confident that we have the right strategies to drive long-term shareholder value.”

The discounter expects to open 214 new stores in the first quarter. The company also reiterated its plans to open 700 new stores in the 2014 fiscal year and to remodel or relocate another 500. In addition, it plans to complete approximately 400 limited scope (“lifecycle”) remodels.

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