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ShopperTrak: Retail sales, traffic decreased last week

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — Rough weather last week prevented many last-minute shoppers from getting to the stores to finish up their holiday purchasing. ShopperTrak reported that for the week of Dec. 16 to Dec. 22, GAFO in-store retail sales decreased by 3.1% from the same week last year. Retail brick-and-mortar shopper traffic decreased by 21.2% compared to the same time period in 2012.

"Bad weather throughout the country kept some shoppers away from stores," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. "This past week was their final opportunity to complete their holiday shopping before Christmas — and though many did finish making their purchases, retailers did not see as many shoppers as last year."

Despite more markdowns and promotional efforts from retailers, "Super Saturday" (Dec. 21) saw a decrease in retail sales by 0.7% compared to 2012. In-store shopper traffic decreased 18.1% from the same day last year. ShopperTrak predicts after-holiday markdowns to drive robust retail sales and store traffic in the days to come, particularly the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and the following Saturday (Dec. 28).

"Many people who have the day after Christmas off of work will be out shopping for end-of-season deals," said Martin. "Retailers should track their stores’ conversion rates closely to turn more after-Christmas browsers into buyers."

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Aldi embarks on five-year expansion plan

BY CSA STAFF

Discount grocer Aldi is launching a five-year strategic plan to open 650 new stores across the United States. The chain launched its expansion efforts with the decision to build its regional headquarters and distribution center in Moreno Valley, Calif.

To reach its aggressive five-year goal, Aldi plans to accelerate the pace of new store openings to an average of 130 per year, up from an average of 80 stores per year in recent years. Aldi also is planning to invest more than $3 billion to pay for land, facilities and equipment. When the expansion is complete, Aldi will have stores coast-to-coast and anticipates serving more than 45 million customers per month.

The expansion is expected to create more than 10,000 new jobs at Aldi stores, warehouses and division offices. Today, Aldi has nearly 1,300 stores across 32 states and employs more than 18,000 people

"We’re ramping up our expansion plans to meet growing demand for Aldi from customers across the country," said Jason Hart, president, Aldi. "Recently, we successfully entered new markets such as Houston, and expanded our presence in competitive markets like South Florida and New York City. At Aldi, we believe that great quality can be affordable, and we are eager to bring the Aldi difference to new markets like Southern California."

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Petco provides holiday happiness for rescue groups

BY CSA STAFF

The heartwarming story of a pit bull rescued from a life of torment as a bait dog earned the Pet Rescue Center in Mission Viejo, Calif., a $100,000 grant from the Petco Foundation and Ellen DeGeneres and her natural pet food company Halo.

The rescue group was chosen from among 4,500 submissions and awarded a check during the "Ellen" show on Dec. 23. Thirty-three other animal welfare groups split $500,000 as part of the Petco Foundation’s Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign.

The Pet Rescue Center was chosen as the grand prize recipient for a story about Sammy, a male pit bull rescued from life as a bait dog. When Sammy arrived at the center, he had massive scars and fresh wounds covering his body, including a four inch laceration on the bottom of his chin and significant damage to his ears. Once healed, and while waiting for a new home, Sammy had the chance to pay it forward to another needy puppy who was found bleeding in a shopping center parking lot and in desperate need of a blood transfusion. Sammy’s blood type was a match and he proved to be the perfect patient throughout the entire process, earning him a spot in the center’s hall of fame for memorable rescues.

Sammy’s will to live and help others was soon noticed by a couple who were touched by his story and came to meet him. Although hesitant due to misconceptions about his breed, the couple was amazed by his demeanor and happy-go-lucky attitude, and they decided to adopt him. Sammy now lives with his new Wheaton Terrier brother and a family that loves him dearly, according to the Petco Foundation.

Winners in the annual contest were chosen based on the quality of the organization’s overall work and the impact of their top success story. The stories of heroism and compassion include animals with special needs that have become therapy animals for kids with the same condition, paralyzed animals rescued by people with similar mobility challenges, a cat mother nursing a one-day-old puppy as one of her own and countless severely injured animals whose will to live inspired those around them and communities rallying together to save lives.

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