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Study: Four-in-10 smartphone users buy with device

BY Dan Berthiaume

Dallas – Four-in-10 (43%) of U.S. smartphone users purchased a good via their device in the last month. The new Parks Associates study “Mobile Commerce: Keys to Mass Adoption” also shows that 54% of Target shoppers have used their smartphone to make an in-store purchase in the last month, compared to 38% of Wal-Mart customers.

In addition, survey data shows that more than 25% of consumer electronics shoppers in broadband households have used mobile commerce apps on their smartphone to help with an in-store purchase decision, including functions such as product research, barcode scanning, and interaction with a retailer or brand app.

“There’s no such thing as a pure ‘in-store’ shopper anymore,” said Jennifer Kent, senior analyst at Parks Associates. “Consumers are checking online information about products before, after, and while they shop in stores. Retailers that embrace this trend will be in a good position to drive more sales within their stores.”

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Report: Indian Reserve Bank to rule on Wal-Mart probe

BY Dan Berthiaume

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Bentonville, Ark. – The Indian central bank is reportedly reviewing findings of an investigation into whether Wal-Mart Stores broke that country’s investment rules in 2010. According to Reuters, in 2012 the Indian Reserve Bank asked the country’s finance ministry to investigate a $100 million investment Wal-Mart made into an Indian consulting firm that is involved in operating supermarkets.

At the time of the investment, foreign companies were not allowed to hold a controlling interest in Indian supermarkets. The finance ministry has now reportedly completed its investigation and referred its findings to the Indian Reserve Bank to make a final ruling.

A Wal-Mart spokesperson said the company has not seen results of the investigation and cannot comment, while the Indian Reserve Bank also declined comment in the article. Wal-Mart says it has complied and will comply with all Indian investment regulations. India has allowed foreign companies to take majority ownership of supermarkets there since September 2012.

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Safeway increases stock buyback by $2 billion

BY Dan Berthiaume

Pleasanton, Calif. – The board of directors of Safeway Inc. has increased the authorized level of the company’s stock repurchase program by $2 billion. Through the end of the third quarter of 2013, Safeway had approximately $800 million remaining under its previously authorized stock repurchase program.

Safeway’s stock repurchase authorization does not have an expiration date, and the timing of repurchases will depend on market conditions. Stock repurchases may be effected from time to time through open market purchases or pursuant to a Rule 10b5-1 plan. The stock repurchase program may be accelerated, suspended, delayed or discontinued at any time.

Safeway recently reported weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings but beat forecasts for quarterly sales and also said it would exit the Chicago market.

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