MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Report: Wal-Mart Buyers Write Blog

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark. Wal-Mart is encouraging its merchants to speak candidly about the products the chain carries, according to the New York Times.

An unusual new Web site, checkoutblog.com, which was created during the holiday shopping season, has become a forum for Wal-Mart’s buyers to note their likes, dislikes and opinions about everything from the products they buy to their pets at home. The site provides a window into the lives, preferences and quirks of the powerful tastemakers at Wal-Mart.

This is not Wal-Mart’s first plunge into the blogosphere. Several years ago, it turned to the Web for relief when the retailer’s public relations problems began to mount. It created one blog, “Working Families for Wal-Mart,” to trumpet the chain’s accomplishments and ding its critics. It created another, “Wal-Marting Across America,” to highlight the good deeds and productive careers of Wal-Mart employees. Critics dismissed both as thinly veiled extensions of Wal-Mart’s P.R. department, and Wal-Mart shut them down.

Wal-Mart employees began the blog a year ago and recruited a handful of buyer-bloggers last fall, giving them rudimentary training on how to post their writing, upload videos and create hyperlinks, the report said.

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FINANCE

Home Depot 4Q Sales Decline

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta The Home Depot announced Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit fell more than 27% and that a suffering housing market contributed to the first annual sales decline for the world’s largest home-improvement store chain.

Home Depot said it earned $671 million in the three months ending Feb. 3, compared with a profit of $925 million in the same period a year earlier.

Despite an extra sales week, revenue in the quarter rose only 1.5% to $17.66 billion, compared with $17.4 billion a year earlier. Excluding that extra week, fourth-quarter sales declined 4.7% compared with a year ago.

Revenue for fiscal 2007 declined 2.1% to $77.35 billion. Spokesman Ron DeFeo said that was the first-ever annual sales decline for Home Depot.

Same-store sales declined 8.3% in the quarter. The company’s average sales ticket declined 2.3% to $54.96 in the quarter, compared with $56.27 a year ago.

The company said it expects to see a total sales decline in fiscal 2008 of 4% to 5%.

Home Depot said it plans to open only 55 new stores this year. That’s about half as many as it opened last year. Home Depot has been scaling back the number of new store openings in recent years.

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News

Dell, Sam’s Club help consumers go green

BY CSA STAFF

ROUND ROCK, Texas and BENTONVILLE, Ark. Dell has partnered with Sam’s Club to help consumers offset their impact on their environment when they purchase a laptop or desktop. Through its “Plant a Tree for Me” program, shoppers on samsclub.com can make donations toward reducing carbon dioxide in the air.

Through the program, customers contribute $2 for a laptop and $6 for a desktop, with the money going toward the planting of trees that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Dell partners with The Conservation Fund and the Carbonfund.org, non-profit organizations that plant trees in sustainably managed reforestation projects.

“Our success in addressing climate change, energy depletion and other global challenges ultimately depends on our ability to empower and inspire the ReGeneration, people of all ages who care about the environment,” said Tod Arbogast, director of sustainable business at Dell. “Programs like ‘Plant a Tree for Me’ provide a simple and tangible way to make a difference.”

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