FINANCE

Thomson Reuters/U of Michigan shows climbing consumer confidence

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City –The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment showed Friday that confidence among U.S. consumers rose more than forecast in December as Americans’ outlooks improved.

The index rose to 67.7, a six-month high, from 64.1 at the end of November. The median estimate of 73 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a reading of 65.8. The gauge averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

“Spending has held in there and consumers’ negative attitudes have improved,” Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg. “Consumers started the holiday season strong and it looks like they will end it decently.”

The Michigan survey’s index of consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, climbed to 61.1 from 55.4.

The index of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether they consider it a good time to buy big-ticket items like cars, increased to 77.9 from 77.6 the prior month.

The Michigan index compares with the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index which was minus 50.3 in the week ended Dec. 4, down from minus 50.2 a week earlier. The measure has been at minus 50 or less for 11 of the past 12 weeks, a performance unprecedented in its 26-year history.

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FINANCE

Toys “R” Us records Q3 loss

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Wayne, N.J. –Toys “R” Us reported Friday an operating loss of $75 million for the quarter ended Oct. 29, compared with a loss of $62 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $36 million, compared with $49 million in the prior year.

Sales dipped to $2.7 billion from $2.72 billion a year earlier, and same-store sales fell 2.2% domestically and 3.9% internationally.

"During the third quarter, we prepared for the upcoming holiday season and took some important steps to position the company for long-term growth," Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO, said,

Toys “R” Us acquired a majority stake in its China and Southeast Asia operations and has opened its debut store in Poland.

“International growth in new and emerging markets remains a key part of our overall business strategy," said Storch.

On the homefront, the toy retailer said its priorities include creating new ways for customers to shop seamlessly between online and bricks and mortar businesses.

Through the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2011, Toys “R” Us invested $266 million primarily to convert, expand and remodel existing stores, open new stores and upgrade its information technology systems and capabilities, compared to $231 million in the prior year.

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Gordmans to open near Denver in 2012

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City –Brixmor Property Group announced two retailers will join Arapahoe Crossings, located Aurora, Colo., a suburb of Denver.

Omaha-based department store retailer Gordmans is slated to open during fall 2012 with a 55,000-sq.-ft. store.

In early 2012, Chuck and Don’s Pet Food Outlet will open a 7,000-sq.-ft. store adjacent to King Soopers grocery store.

Gordmans and Chuck and Don’s Pet Food Outlet will be joining more than 30 shops and services including Kohl’s, King Soopers, Marshall’s, Office Max, Big Lots and AMC Theaters.

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