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Toys’R’Us online expands international shipping

BY CSA STAFF

WAYNE, N.J. — Toys"R"Us has expanded international shipping for online orders on Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com to more than 60 countries across Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, North America and South America. The company is providing this service to its customers in partnership with i-parcel, a leading international air express company that facilitates global shipping capabilities.

"By introducing international shipping on Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com, online customers around the world can now shop the vast product assortment offered on our e-commerce sites," said Milton Pappas, VP e-commerce customer experience for Toys"R"Us, U.S. "This new service also allows us to expand the global reach of the Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us brands to countries where we do not already operate stores, including Brazil, Mexico and more."

Through this partnership, i-parcel will facilitate the international sale, transport and delivery of products for this new online shipping option to customers around the world. To ensure a seamless customer experience, i-parcel will also handle all customer service inquiries related to specific shipments and deliveries. When shopping on Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com, customers can select international shipping for eligible items, as noted on the product detail page. Once a destination is chosen, the customer will be directed to an i-parcel page where all taxes, shipping and duty information and costs will be displayed. The customer will then complete their transaction with i-parcel through its site.

Customers in the U.S. can also take advantage of this new service when shopping at their local store. With the help of a store associate, shoppers can send relatives and friends around the world gifts for special occasions year-round. When placing international orders at Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores nationwide a customer’s billing and shipping addresses do not need to be the same.

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Consumers plan to spend more this holiday season, NPD finds

BY CSA STAFF

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — It seems that consumers’ holiday spending intentions are more positive than last year, according to NPD’s 11th annual holiday retail study.

Among 3,618 respondents polled in September, 10% said they plan on spending more this holiday season, compared with 9% in 2011; 67% said they plan to spend about the same, compared with 64% last year; and 23% said they plan to spend less, compared with 27% in 2011. But as additional consumers are willing to spend more this holiday season, their shopping timeline differs from 2011: More consumers already started their holiday shopping by this time last year (16% this year versus 17% in 2011), while the number of consumers who said they would begin their shopping before Thanksgiving rose from 19% in 2011 to 21% in 2012.

"Looking at this year’s responses, I see a light at the end of the tunnel with more consumers telling us they plan to ‘spend about the same’ and less planning to ‘spend less,’" said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. "While consumer confidence seems to be up retailers will still face some challenges. They will need to develop creative ways to lure shoppers into the stores."

So where will consumers head to when they start their holiday shopping? Half (50%) said they will shop at discount retailers (i.e., Kmart, Target and Walmart); 38% intend to shop online and 28% said they intend to shop national chains, such as Sears and Kohl’s, among others. However, NPD found that there is an increased emphasis on shopping at off-price stores, drug stores and specialty stores (rising 1% to 2%), compared with 2011.

"Retailers at all levels are likely to be challenged this year with the channel lines increasingly becoming blurred. Among the competition for traditional retailers this year are drug stores and supermarkets," Cohen said. "Now that consumers are less attracted to sale prices and more attracted to selection, as well as convenience, stocking the right items will be essential to drive foot traffic."

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Despite Q3 decline, Safeway sees ident-store growth in Q4

BY CSA STAFF

Safeway reported income from continuing operations of $108 million, or 45 cents per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2012 compared with $130.3 million (38 centper diluted share) in the third quarter of 2011.

The company reported that sales for the quarter declined 0.2% to $10 billion from $10.1 billion for the same period last year. The decline was mainly due to the disposition of Genuardi’s stores and a lower Canadian exchange rate, partly offset by higher fuel sales, the company said. Identical-store sales, excluding fuel, were 0.1% for the quarter, which were lower than anticipated primarily due to a larger than expected decline in price inflation, partly offset by continued improvement in volume, according to Safeway.

"We are encouraged that in the fourth quarter to date our identical-store sales, excluding fuel, are running at 1% with slightly improved volumes and higher inflation than in the third quarter of 2012," said Steve Burd, chairman and CEO. "We expect identical-store sales in the fourth quarter will be driven by increased just for U engagement, the roll out of our partner fuel loyalty program and the launch of our wellness initiative."

Safeway is maintaining its 2012 earnings guidance of between $1.90 to $2.10 per diluted share.

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