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Retail Forward reports encouraging signs in July

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Although declines in retail same-store sales persisted in July, there were encouraging signs as shoppers ease their tight rein on spending plans, according to Retail Forward.

Sales-weighted same-store sales held roughly steady at 4.6% in July for the 32 retailers — most of them apparel retailers — reporting monthly results on Thursday, Retail Forward said. That was about the same as the 4.7% decline last month, but down from the 1.8% gain in July 2008 for the same composite measure calculated without Wal-Mart. Including Wal-Mart, same-store sales were up 2.8% in July 2008. (Wal-Mart announced in May it would no longer report monthly sales.)

“Shoppers are not yet ready to spend freely. But the results reported by retailers provide some signs that shoppers are easing up on their cutbacks. And that’s especially encouraging given the variety of factors weighing on retail sales in July,” said Frank Badillo, senior economist at Retail Forward, Columbus, Ohio.

Retailers cited a variety of factors weighing on July’s results. Among others, these included: a year-ago comparison period boosted by economic stimulus payments; a shift by some states of a tax-holiday period into August; lean inventories requiring less clearance; fewer promotions; a later start to back-to-school shopping and unfavorable weather.

Apparel and accessory stores as a group performed better than other retailers reporting and their composite decline eased compared with June, according to Retail Forward. Department stores remained the laggard as their composite decline persisted similar to June, although a few retailers, including Kohl’s, were exceptions.

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OfficeMax brings back penny campaign

BY CSA STAFF

NAPERVILLE, Ill. OfficeMax has released new Penny Pranks videos in support of its “Back To School for Pennies” program, featuring a different assortment of school supplies for the cost of just one penny during each week of the back-to-school season.

“The Penny Prank videos are a fun way to engage our audience during back-to-school season and call attention to the special one-penny price offers available weekly at OfficeMax,” said Ryan Vero, EVP and chief merchandising officer for OfficeMax.

Filmed in a New York City mansion, the latest Penny Prank videos feature actor Matt McCarthy, posing as the guardian of a 10-year-old billionaire. Unsuspecting sellers of items such as rare coins, first-edition books and a vintage guitar are invited to the mansion expecting a sale and encounter eccentric characters wanting to pay with mounds of pennies from inside their vault. The seven new Penny Prank videos are now available for viewing on a dedicated YouTube channel .

OfficeMax is also supporting its “Back to School for Pennies” program with two television spots and three radio ads that will run in top U.S. markets throughout the back-to-school season.

For back-to-school season, OfficeMax is featuring new “Penny Offers” each week that rotate from a single-priced item for one penny to bundled offers such as “Buy one, Get one for one Penny” deals on school supplies.

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At Lowe’s, a flurry of openings

BY CSA STAFF

Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s opened eight new stores in July, including six store openings on July 30 and 31.

The six newest stores are located in Hamburg, N.Y; Hornell, N.Y.; Marrero, La.; Summerville, S.C.; South Durham, N.C.; and Mt. Juliet, Tenn. Earlier last month, the company opened stores in Petal, Miss.; and Torrington, Conn.

 

The stores opened in July range in size from 94,000 square feet to 117,000 square feet.

 

The July 30 and 31 openings marked the busiest two-day opening spree for the retailer so far this year. But the busiest single day of 2009 has been Feb. 2, when the company opened five new stores. Lowe’s also opened nine new stores in a five-day span in early February.

 

The Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer is anticipating opening 60 to 70 stores in 2009, a figure that was adjusted down from an earlier forecast of 75 to 85. Since Lowe’s fiscal year began Jan. 31, the company has opened 37 stores, including four in Canada.

 

Lowe’s 2009 plans are well ahead of Home Depot’s plans for 13 new store openings in the current year — five in the United States. Still, Home Depot is the store-count leader, with 2,241 stores, compared to Lowe’s 1,675 stores.

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