OPERATIONS

Online spending jumps 13% in 2011, hits $161.5 billion

BY Staff Writer

Reston, Va. — Online retail spending reached $49.7 billion for the fourth quarter, up 14% over a year ago, according to comScore. It was the ninth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. For the entire 2011 year, U.S. retail e-commerce spending reached a record $161.5 billion, marking a 13% increase from 2010.

“The fourth quarter of 2011 capped off what was yet another strong year for online retail, one in which every quarter achieved double-digit increases versus the prior year," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "In the face of continuing uncertainty regarding the U.S. economy, consumers increasingly went online for their shopping needs. Price and convenience continue to be the critical value drivers for e-commerce, and unless those conditions change we can expect to see more channel-shifting to online in 2012 and perhaps even an acceleration in the current growth trend."

The top-performing online product categories in the fourth quarter were: digital content and subscriptions, jewelry and qatches, consumer electronics, toys and hobbies, and computer software. Each category grew at least 18% vs. year ago.

Other highlights of the quarter included:

*Fifty-two percent of e-commerce transactions included free shipping, representing an all-time high. The previous high was Q4 2010 at 49%.

•Smartphones and tablets played a growing role in online shopping, with consumes increasingly using smartphones to check prices and product features while physically in a retail store.

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H-E-B details growth and remodeling plans for Austin market

BY CSA STAFF

New York –H. E. Butt Grocery Co. plans to spend about $100 million to expand, remodel and relocate several of its stores in Austin, Texas, during 2012, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The move is part of a larger, statewide expansion and price-cutting campaign.

The projects include replacing a market near Austin’s Lakeline Mall with a 117,000-sq.-ft. H-E-B Plus store late this year or in early 2013; expanding a location in Cedar Park, Texas; and building a new 75,000-sq.-ft. H-E-B later this year in the Mueller development in Austin, the report said.

In addition, at least 10 other remodels are planned.

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Wal-Mart Stores’ annual shareholders meeting set for June 1

BY Staff Writer

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores on Monday announced that the company’s 2012 Annual Shareholders meeting will be held on Fri., June 1, 2012 at 7 a.m. CDT, in Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.

The meeting also will be webcast on the company’s website at http://walmartstores.com/investors. Following the meeting, there will be an informal 30-minute live question and answer session with company executives for shareholders.

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