OPERATIONS

OfficeMax appoints HR chief

BY Staff Writer

Naperville Ill. — OfficeMax announced Thursday that Steve Parsons has been named executive VP and chief human resources officer for the office supply chain, effective July 25.

Parsons will report to Ravi Saligram, president and CEO, and will be responsible for all aspects of global human resources for the company, including talent management, compensation and benefits, training, leadership development, recruitment, diversity, and internal and corporate communications.

Most recently, Parsons was senior VP human resources at Rite Aid Corp.

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News

Safeway sees sales and income boost in Q2

BY CSA STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. —Safeway Inc. reported net income of $145.8 million, or 41 cents per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2011 compared with $141.3 million, or 37 cents per diluted share for the second quarter of 2010.

The company reported that total sales increased 7.1% to $10.2 billion in the second quarter of 2011 from $9.5 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Identical-store sales, excluding fuel saw a 0.5% increase.

"Second quarter earnings results exceeded our expectations," said Steve Burd, chairman, president and CEO. "Identical-store sales improved during the second quarter and into the third quarter. We remain focused on building customer loyalty and expect sales to continue to gradually improve through the second half of the year."

Safeway is reaffirming guidance for the year of $1.45 to $1.65 earnings per diluted share. Identical-store sales are expected to gradually improve, approaching 1% for the year.

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FINANCE

NRF survey: Back-to-school sales expected to be flat

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. – Back-to-school sales are expected to be flat this coming season, according to the 2011 Back-to-School survey, issued Thursday by the National Retail Federation and conducted by BIGresearch. The study showed that families with children in grades K-12 will spend an average of $603.63 on apparel, school supplies and electronics, a few dollars short of last year’s $606.40 average.

Total spending on grades K-12 is expected to reach $22.8 billion, according to NRF, and combined K-12 and college spending will reach $68.8 billion, serving as the second-biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays.

According to the survey, Americans are compensating for the economy by purchasing more store-brand or generic items (39.9%), comparison shopping more online (29.8%), and shopping for sales (50%). Additionally, 43.7% of the respondents said the economy is forcing them to simply spend less in general.

Having replenished many of their children’s needs last year, average spending on clothing ($220.60) and school supplies ($88.99) will slightly decrease this year. Families will also spend an average of $104.53 on shoes, a slight increase over last year.

Though average spending on computers, cell phones, MP3 players and tablet devices is expected to increase slightly to $189.51, some 51.9% of families with school-aged children plan to purchase electronics this year, down from last year’s historically high 63.7%. The percentage of people who plan to purchase apparel, shoes and supplies will decrease as well, demonstrating that many families are making conscious decisions to buy only what they need.

Department stores are expected to fare well this back-to-school shopping season, thanks to popular private labels, promotions and innovative social media campaigns. According to the survey, 57% of back-to-school shoppers will head to a department store, up from 53.9% last year and the most in the survey’s eight-year history. Though the majority of back-to-school shoppers plan to make at least one purchase from a discount store (68.4%), clothing stores (48.7%), office supply stores (38%) and electronics stores (21.7%) will also be popular.

Additionally, more people this year will shop online (31.7% versus 30.8% last year) and in drug stores (21.1% versus 19.5% last year).

Shopping is expected to start later overall this year. While most families will begin shopping three weeks to one month before school starts (42.4%), nearly one-third (31.2%) will begin their shopping one to two weeks before school starts — up from 24.8% last year. Some will get a jump start and begin shopping two months before the new school year (21.8%) and the remainder will shop the week school starts (2%) or after school starts (2.6%).

The survey found that teenagers will spend about the same amount as last year for certain apparel, supplies and accessories. Teenagers are expected to spend an average of $31.64 for school items, compared with $31.74 last year. Pre-teens, largely reliant on their parents for an allowance, will spend less this year ($15.12 versus $18.27 in 2010). When it comes to how much say children have in parents’ buying decisions, 61.2% of parents say their children influence 50% or more of back-to-school purchases.

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