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Online 2010 holiday winners emerge

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart, Target and Best Buy attracted record levels of customers to their websites during November, according to data released this week by the online measurement firm comScore. Retailers have come to expect a surge in traffic to their sites as the holiday approach and during November that proved to be the case and then some.

Walmart and Target both experienced a 44% increase in the number of unique visitors to their sites during November when compared with October. The surge pushed Walmart to the 20th spot on comScore’s ranking of the top 50 U.S. online properties with a total of nearly 52 million unique visitors, while Target landed in the 27th position with nearly 40 million unique visitors. The number of visitors to Best Buy’s website grew at an even faster 75% when comparing November to October, which gave the company 28 million unique visitors and a 41st ranking on the comScore top 50 list.

“As the holiday season kicked off in November, Americans were quick to take advantage of retailers’ early promotions and saving in crossing a f few items off their shopping list,” said Jeff Hackett, EVP comScore Media Metrix. “Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, came in as the heaviest online spending day on record in the U.S. which contributed a strong portion of traffic growth at retail and coupon sites.”

While Walmart, Target and Best Buy advanced their position on comScore’s top 50 list dominated by the likes of Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, Amazon.com remains king of the retail hill. It attracted roughly 84 million unique visitors during November, placing it 10th on the top properties list.

The November figures are impressive when compared with October, but less so when compared with November 2009. In fact, unique visitor growth on a year-over-year basis has moderated somewhat, with Walmart, Target and Best Buy posting increases of 5%, 2% and 7%, respectively. Amazon.com’s unique visitor growth increased 8% when compared with November 2009.

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Walgreens profit jumps 18.8%, topping estimates

BY CSA STAFF

Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens said Wednesday that its profit jumped 18.8% in the fiscal first quarter on a mix of better pricing and generic drug sales.

The chain said its profit rose to $580 million, exceeding estimates. Revenue rose 6% to $17.34 billion. The company’s 2011 fiscal first quarter ended Nov. 30.

Overall same-store sale sales rose 0.8% during the quarter, with front-end same-store sales rising 0.4% and pharmacy same-store sales rising 0.9%.

The revenue figure doesn’t include Duane Reade, which was acquired in April.

The company said front-end sales benefited from better promotions and pricing of products, while generic drug sales gave the pharmacy a boost. The company also administered about 5.6 million flu shots through Nov. 30, marking a slight increase from last year’s first quarter.

Walgreen ran 7,651 stores as of Nov. 30. It has expanded by about 500 stores over the last year, with about half that growth coming after it bought the Duane Reade chain in New York.

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Finish Line Q3 profit down on lack of tax benefit

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — The Finish Line said Tuesday that its fiscal third-quarter net income fell 37% as a one-time leg up from a tax windfall last year was not repeated.

Net income in the three months to Nov. 27 hit $4.1 million, from $6.6 million a year ago. Last year’s tax benefit amounted to $6.4 million. Revenue rose 9% to $260.9 million, from $240.1 million. Same-store sales were up 4.5% from Nov. 28 through Dec. 19, compared with the same period a year ago.

The results were better than analysts’ estimates.

“Staying focused on the strategic plan we developed last year has again helped Finish Line deliver strong results," said chairman and CEO Glenn Lyon. "We continue to exceed our internal performance targets, yet there is more growth to come within our existing business. We believe that we can achieve annual double-digit operating margins in the future by continuing to drive the top line in our stores and by accelerating growth in e-commerce, which will become an increasingly more significant factor in our business moving forward."

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