FINANCE

Ohio Looking to Set Minimum on Gift-Card Expiration

BY CSA STAFF

Columbus, Ohio The state of Ohio is considering a two-year minimum on gift-card expiration.

The measure, which passed the Senate in June, also would prevent retailers from charging fees that reduce the value of the cards during that time.

Sen. Robert Spada, a North Royalton Republican, said he introduced the legislation after getting complaints from family, friends and constituents who were concerned that their gift cards were no longer usable when they tried to redeem them.

The bill has been held up in a House committee, where representatives have been working to clarify which cards would be covered. About a dozen states have passed laws regulating gift cards’ expiration dates.

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FINANCE

Home Depot 4Q Sales Decline

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta The Home Depot announced Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit fell more than 27% and that a suffering housing market contributed to the first annual sales decline for the world’s largest home-improvement store chain.

Home Depot said it earned $671 million in the three months ending Feb. 3, compared with a profit of $925 million in the same period a year earlier.

Despite an extra sales week, revenue in the quarter rose only 1.5% to $17.66 billion, compared with $17.4 billion a year earlier. Excluding that extra week, fourth-quarter sales declined 4.7% compared with a year ago.

Revenue for fiscal 2007 declined 2.1% to $77.35 billion. Spokesman Ron DeFeo said that was the first-ever annual sales decline for Home Depot.

Same-store sales declined 8.3% in the quarter. The company’s average sales ticket declined 2.3% to $54.96 in the quarter, compared with $56.27 a year ago.

The company said it expects to see a total sales decline in fiscal 2008 of 4% to 5%.

Home Depot said it plans to open only 55 new stores this year. That’s about half as many as it opened last year. Home Depot has been scaling back the number of new store openings in recent years.

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Dell, Sam’s Club help consumers go green

BY CSA STAFF

ROUND ROCK, Texas and BENTONVILLE, Ark. Dell has partnered with Sam’s Club to help consumers offset their impact on their environment when they purchase a laptop or desktop. Through its “Plant a Tree for Me” program, shoppers on samsclub.com can make donations toward reducing carbon dioxide in the air.

Through the program, customers contribute $2 for a laptop and $6 for a desktop, with the money going toward the planting of trees that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Dell partners with The Conservation Fund and the Carbonfund.org, non-profit organizations that plant trees in sustainably managed reforestation projects.

“Our success in addressing climate change, energy depletion and other global challenges ultimately depends on our ability to empower and inspire the ReGeneration, people of all ages who care about the environment,” said Tod Arbogast, director of sustainable business at Dell. “Programs like ‘Plant a Tree for Me’ provide a simple and tangible way to make a difference.”

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