FINANCE

Police Struggle to Identify Suspects in Wal-Mart Death

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Police are still reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify the customers who trampled a Wal-Mart employee to death on Black Friday. The incident occurred as shoppers ran into Wal-Mart’s store in Valley Stream, N.Y., when the doors opened at 5 a.m. Some 2,000 shoppers were waiting to get inside the store for Black Friday doorbuster sales.

Local police said their investigation is ongoing and they are still reviewing surveillance tapes of the stampede. However, police and legal experts say it will be difficult to identify individual suspects in order to lay criminal charges.

Four others were also hurt in the crush, including an eight-months pregnant woman. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors determined she and her baby were fine. The other injuries were said to be minor.

Wal-Mart Stores has come under criticism for not providing enough security at the store. But the chain’s representatives defended the company’s security policies and said the Valley Stream store had augmented its security personnel and erected barricades in preparation for Black Friday, according to Newsday. The chain called the incident a “tragic situation.”

“The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority,” Wal-Mart representative Dan Fogleman said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this difficult time. At this point, facts are still being assembled and we are working closely with the Nassau County police as they investigate what occurred.”

In related news, a New York City lawmaker announced plans to propose a new law aimed at controlling future Black Friday crowds while Long Island officials said they were considering similar measures. Councilman James Gennaro plans to craft a “Doorbuster Bill” that would require retailers to enact greater security measures during major sales. On Long Island, Nassau executive Thomas Suozzi said he and the legislature’s presiding officer will meet to “discuss possible legislation to prevent something so tragic from happening again,” according to Newsday.com.

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Dillard’s 3Q loss widens

BY CSA STAFF

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Dillard’s reported a third quarter net loss of $56 million, or 76 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $11.3 million, or 15 cents per share, for the same period last year.

Dillard’s ceo, William Dillard, II, stated, “The oppressive economic environment clearly weighed heavily on our results during the third quarter. We continue to take aggressive action to navigate these challenging times. We announced the closure of 21 under-performing stores during 2008, dramatically reduced capital spending for 2008 and 2009 and are executing appropriate operating expense reduction measures throughout the Company. These efforts are not only designed to position ourselves to weather near-term economic uncertainty but also to position Dillard’s well for the long term.”

Net sales for the quarter were $1.508 billion compared to net sales of $1.633 billion last year. Sales in comparable stores declined 9%.

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Fred’s sees 3Q income growth

BY CSA STAFF

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s reported net income of $6.1 million, or 15 cents per diluted share for the third quarter 2008, an increase of 32% from net income of $4.6 million or 12 cents per diluted share in the year-earlier quarter.

Fred’s total sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 were $418.0 million compared with $419.9 million for the same period last year, with the year-over-year decline of 0.4% reflecting the company’s store-closing program. Excluding stores closed in 2008, total sales from ongoing stores increased 4% over the third quarter of last year. On a comparable-store basis, third quarter sales increased 1.4% versus 1.1% in the year-earlier period.

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