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Racial comment at N.J. Walmart investigated as possible bias crime

BY CSA STAFF

New York City A racial comment made over the public-address system at a Walmart store in Washington Township in southern New Jersey, is being investigated as a possible bias crime, a prosecutor’s office said Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

A male voice came over the system Sunday evening and calmly announced: “Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now.”

The announcement, at the Washington Township store, provoked an immediate apology from the store manager and a promise from company officials to try to determine how it happened.

Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton began an investigation Monday. His office said in a statement Thursday that some of the system phones are accessible to the public and not all are in range of security cameras.

Investigators said the announcement could have been made from any of about two dozen phones inside the store. They reviewed video from store cameras, but did not disclose what, if anything, was discovered.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo Lopez, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores, said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer was working to reduce the number of phones accessible to the public and with public-address capabilities.

Company officials have said the announcement was “unacceptable.”

 

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Home Depot moves Black Friday to spring

BY CSA STAFF

ATLANTA The Home Depot announced that it will offer “Black Friday” deals this spring.

The company announced that in March and April, prices on hundreds of the most sought after spring products will be significantly reduced including: a variety of live goods and lawn care; outdoor power; eco-friendly gardening products; and patio and grills.

 

“Spring is our Christmas,” said Craig Menear, EVP merchandising. “Traffic in our stores is at its highest during the spring season as customers look to take on outdoor projects to improve the appearance of their homes and we want to give them the best deals possible to meet all of their outdoor needs.”

According to Home Depot, the date of its Spring Black Friday event will vary by market based on climate by geography. The first are set to begin on March 18.

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Stein Mart makes a profit, but sales down

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. For the fourth quarter of 2009, Stein Mart reported net earnings of $2.7 million or 6 cents per diluted share compared with a net loss of $56.2 million or $1.35 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2008.

The company reported net income of $23.6 million or 54 cents per diluted share for its fiscal 2009 period compared with a net loss of 71.3 million or $1.72 per diluted share last year.

 

Sales for the fourth quarter of 2009 decreased 6.1% to $341.8 million from $363.9 million in 2008. Comparable-store sales decreased 3.8% from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009.  For the 52 weeks ended January 30, sales decreased 8.1% to $1.2 billion from $1.3 billion for the same 52 weeks ended last year. Comparable-store sales declined 5.6% from 2008 to 2009.

“We are proud to have reversed two years of losses and earned a significant profit in one of the most demanding years in our company’s history,” said David Stovall, Jr., president and CEO of Stein Mart.  “Rigorous focus on inventory levels and freshness, dedication to expense reduction and emphasis on cash generation all contributed to our profitability this year.  Our 13,000 associates were instrumental in the gains we made in 2009 and I want to thank them for their devotion and efforts.”

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