FINANCE

Reports: consumer confidence climbs

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — A report released Thursday by Bloomberg found that consumer confidence for the week ended Feb. 20 rose to the highest level since April 2008 as Americans grew less pessimistic about their personal finances.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, formerly the ABC News U.S. Weekly Consumer Comfort Index, was minus 39.2 in the period to Feb. 20, compared with minus 43.4 the prior week, the report showed.

Nearly half (49%) of those polled held positive views on their financial situation, the most in a year.

Earlier this week, the Consumer Confidence Index showed that in February, confidence surged, marking the fifth consecutive month of increases. The index stood at 70.4, up sharply from 64.8 in January.

"It finally appears that consumers are beginning to believe the economic recovery is underway," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Overall, it’s still a reading that’s relatively weak but much stronger than where we were a year ago."

The private survey, conducted monthly by Conference Board Consumer Research Center, gauges the perceptions of consumers about job and business conditions, as well as their outlook for the next six months.

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FINANCE

Safeway swings to profit in Q4

BY CSA STAFF

Pleasanton, Calif. — Safeway reported Thursday net income of $229.6 million for the quarter ended Jan. 1, compared with a loss of $1.61 billion in the year-ago period, based on a hefty charge for the reduced value of its assets.

The grocery chain said revenue inched up 1% to $12.8 billion from $12.69 billion, topping Wall Street estimates of $12.45 billion.

Safeway said its quarterly revenue was helped by better fuel sales and an increase in the Canadian exchange rate, but that those factors were offset by lower sales due to store closings and a 0.8% drop in same-store sales, excluding fuel.

For the full year, Safeway reported net income of $589.8 million, compared with a loss of $1.1 billion in the previous year. Annual revenue edged up 1% to $41.05 billion from $40.85 billion.

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STORE SPACES

Talbots unveils new store design

BY CSA STAFF

Hingham, Mass. — The Talbots unveiled its new store design at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.

The 5,500-sq.-ft. store has an upscale, residential feel, with a layout of five individual rooms for different merchandise stories.

Talbots chief creative officer Michael Smaldone collaborated with Robin Kramer of Kramer Design Group on the space.

According to Talbots, extensive customer research and feedback drove many of the important features of the store’s design and merchandise presentation, which include a new color palette, a more luxurious fitting room environment, area rugs, marble nesters, ceramic tiles, étagères, brass-rimmed windows and a brass door.

Key elements of the new design concept are being evaluated for potential rollout to existing stores in support of the company’s overall store reimage program.

“We are thrilled to bring our customers an innovative and truly inviting shopping environment at our new design concept store in Westfield Garden State Plaza,” said Trudy F. Sullivan, Talbots president and CEO.

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