FINANCE

Report: Dismal September Sales a Bad Omen for Holiday

BY CSA STAFF

New York City The financial and retail communities are bracing themselves for more bad news on Wednesday when retailers will report their monthly sales for September. The expected dismal reports for a key month raise even more concerns for the holiday season and could mean even more stores closing amid deteriorating economic conditions, the Associated Press reported.

Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Research Group, said he now expects about 1,000 to 1,500 stores will close in the two months after Christmas, up from his original estimate of 200 to 300 stores, he told the AP. He now predicts retailers will shutter 5,000 to 10,000 stores from now until the end of 2010, up sharply from his earlier estimate of 1,500 to 2,500.

“September is normally a strong month, so it is going to be a train wreck for retailers for the holiday season,” Flickinger said.

The deteriorating picture is forcing Wall Street analysts to cut their earnings forecasts for merchants for the second half of the year, particularly on those with mall-based stores. Adrianne Shapira, a retail analyst at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a note released Monday that she’s reducing her second-half 2008 earnings estimates by an average of 3% across 12 of the 23 retailers she tracks, with a heavy emphasis on department stores.

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Weis Markets completes rollout of generic Rx plan

BY CSA STAFF

SUNBURY, Pa. Weis Markets said it has completed the chainwide rollout of its new generic prescription plan offering a 90-day supply of more than 350 generic prescriptions for $9.99.

The generic prescription plan was introduced in 59 store pharmacies located in Central Pennsylvania, and Northeast Pennsylvania (including Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and the Pocono’s), New Jersey and Elmira, N.Y. This plan is now available in all 118 Weis Markets in-store pharmacies.

The plan was initially introduced in August in 59 Weis Markets pharmacies in Harrisburg, Lancaster and York along with all of its in-store pharmacies in Maryland West Virginia.

“We’re extremely pleased with the strong customer response to our generic prescription plan and have decided to roll it out chainwide. Increasing healthcare and prescription costs remain a huge issue for our customers and their employers. Our generic prescription plan offers strong savings and gives more choices to physicians and customers such as state and federal employees who are often limited to mail order,” said David Hepfinger, Weis Markets president and coo.

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Best Buy opens women-focused store

BY CSA STAFF

AURORA, Colo. Best Buy’s new store in Aurora, Colo., a suburb of Denver, features skylights, wood paneling and flat-screen televisions in model rooms, in an attempt to appeal more to women shoppers.

Best Buy consulted local female customers for ideas for the store, said Ginger Sorvari Bucklin, Best Buy’s director of Winning With Women. The women consulted said they wanted to see how products could work together and see them in a real-life setting.

The store is also designed to appeal to moms with young children, featuring items like shopping carts shaped like cars.

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