FINANCE

Report: Easter traffic, sales down in 2014

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – The eight-day run up to Easter 2014 fell shy of the previous year’s comparable period by 9.3% in traffic and 8.9% in sales. According to data from retail analytics provider RetailNext, there was a 1.2- percentage-point improvement in conversion, which helped generate a sales decline that was less than the traffic decline.

Average transaction value (ATV) was down by 1.9% leading up to Easter Sunday, with sales per shopper up by 0.4 percentage points. Friday, April 18, 2014 (Good Friday) saw higher conversion than Good Friday in 2013, along with smaller traffic and sales declines seen for the eight-day period leading up to Easter and even before Easter.

According to RetailNext, possible reasons for the decline in 2014 include Easter coming a couple of weeks after the Daylight Savings adjustment (as compared to 2013 when Easter was more than a month after the adjustment), a period that typically sees positive sales trends. Along those lines, Easter in 2013 coincided with the start of Spring, a time when there is clear weather changes and as such a surge in people going out.

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FINANCE

SuperValu achieves Q4 profit, beats expectations

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – SuperValu Inc. swung to a profit in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 from a net loss in the fourth quarter of the prior fiscal year. Net earnings were a better-than-expected $26 million, compared to a net loss of $1.41 billion a year earlier.

In addition, net sales rose 1.4% to $3.95 billion from $3.9 billion and same-store sales increased 3.5%. The substantial improvement in profits partially resulted from a significant decrease in charges and costs.

For the full fiscal year 2014, net earnings were $182 million compared to a net loss of $1.47 billion in the previous fiscal year. Net sales slightly rose from $17.14 billion to $17.15 billion.

"Fiscal 2014 was an important transition year for Supervalu as we stabilized the organization and set the foundation for our future,” said president and CEO Sam Duncan. “I am pleased with the direction of our business segments and look forward to the new fiscal year where we can focus our attention on driving sales growth across the organization.”

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OPERATIONS

Sears offers advice service to loyalty members

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hoffman Estates, Ill. – Sears is offering a new service called Get Advice to members of its Shop Your Way omni-channel loyalty program. Shop Your Way members can post online requests for advice on shopping decisions and receive answers from both Sears associates and other loyalty members.

In addition to posting answers, members can also vote on answers they think are the most helpful. The service is designed to generate answers within minutes and currently is only open Shop Your Way members shopping at Sears and not Kmart.

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