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Prime Time Retail

BY Marianne Wilson

Dollar General Corp. has joined the growing number of retailers with in-store television networks. In March, the small-box discounter (stores average 6,900 sq. ft.) began the initial rollout of Dollar General TV (DGTV) to 500 locations in 13 major markets.

“Dollar General TV will be the primary in-store information source for the millions of Dollar General shoppers in search of great values on brands they know and trust,” said Beryl Buley, division president of marketing, merchandising and supply chain, Dollar General, Goodlettsville, Tenn., which operates some 8,200 stores in 35 states.

With the initial installations completed, Dollar General is conducting quarterly rollouts of the remaining locations in 2,100-store increments. It plans to have the in-store network up and running in 4,200 locations by September, with chain-wide installation targeted for January. Once the full rollout is completed, Dollar General expects the medium to reach 100 million viewers monthly.

The in-store TV network is being installed and managed by SmartPic Advertising, Sarasota, Fla., as part of an all-inclusive turnkey program and with no hardware investment by Dollar General. It broadcasts five-minute loops of content on 37-in. plasma screens. The loop is scheduled to change on a monthly basis, although SmartPic also has the ability to change it on a real-time basis. The programming is a mix of both vendor- and retailer-supplied content, which is integrated into the loop by SmartPic.

The plasma unit, fully equipped with sound, is designed to allow advertisers to take advantage of multiple exposure levels, ranging from static billboards to full-length commercials. The ad emphasis will be on consumables, reflecting the chain’s strategy of playing up food products to increase shopping frequency and capture market share.

The retailer will also connect the network with shoppers online via a dedicated DGTV microsite on its main Web site that will air an identical content loop and allow shoppers to download coupons and link to vendor Web sites. The microsite will be incorporated into promotional e-mails sent to shoppers.

Dollar General is taking a different route from other discount retailers that are employing multiple screens throughout their stores. Instead, the chain is installing a single screen in each store, above an end-cap upfront. (Dollar General circulars, coupons and other promotional materials will be located in the same area.) The promotional content will be used to complement activity across a range of other media used by Dollar General, including print and online.

The screens are located close to end-caps promoting TracFone Wireless. The company, which supplies pre-paid phones to Dollar General, has signed on as a principal sponsor of the in-store network for three years.

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Michaels comps down for the quarter

BY CSA STAFF

IRVING, Texas Michaels Stores reported that total sales for the quarter were $847 million, a 1% increase from fiscal 2007 first quarter sales of $839 million. Same-store sales for the comparable 13-week period decreased 2.9%.

Ceo, Brian Cornell, said, “While our overall comps for the first quarter declined 2.9%, we were very encouraged with the sales of our kids and specialty craft categories, scrapbooking and frame and art supplies. Sales in April showed a reversal of trend with same-store sales up 3.1% on a strong increase in transactions. This positive sales and transaction performance gives us confidence that our new marketing and merchandising programs are connecting with our Michaels customers.”

For fiscal 2008, the company expects same-store sales growth  to be approximately flat given the current economic environment.

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Kirkland’s 1Q sales up 2.1%

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSON, Tenn. Kirkland’s reported that net sales for the first quarter ended May 3 increased 2.1% to $84.1 million from $82.3 million for the first quarter ended May 5, 2007. Comparable-store sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 increased 4.3% compared with an 18.8% comparable-stores sales decrease in the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company reported a net loss of $2.6 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, for the 13-week period ended May 3, 2008, compared with a net loss of $7.5 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, in the 13-week period ended May 5, 2007.

Robert Alderson, Kirkland’s president and ceo, said, “The first quarter results reflect strong merchandising execution and the benefits of aggressive financial initiatives that have reduced our operating costs, improved cash flow and strengthened our liquidity. During the quarter, we experienced improved customer conversions as shoppers have reacted very favorably to our merchandise mix. The positive comparable-store sales and trimming of unproductive stores led to leveraging of occupancy and distribution costs. Combined with an improvement in merchandise margin and a year-over-year reduction in operating costs of almost $5 million, we were able to post a significant improvement in our pre-tax results.

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