FINANCE

U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Grew Almost 4%

BY CSA STAFF

New York City

Overall U.S. retail sales for the 2007 holiday shopping season grew by 3.6% over the same period in 2006, MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse reported Wednesday. The SpendingPulse report analyzed spending across the electronics, specialty (apparel), ecommerce and luxury sectors.

“Overall sales came in just above the lower end of the range we were expecting, maintaining the slower, modest growth we’ve been seeing throughout the year,” said Michael McNamara, VP of research and analysis the for the financial consulting firm.

“Most industry observers had adjusted their sights down, but anyone who was looking for this holiday season to kick start a new wave of growth would find these numbers falling short of expectation,” he said.

Ecommerce was the strongest category, outperforming all other categories, according to the report. The channel had a strong start to the season, posting online sales increases of 40% on Cyber Monday, Nov. 26. This strong early showing contributed to an overall growth rate of 22.4%.

The luxury category, which encompasses high-end department stores, apparel, leather good and restaurants, was also a strong sector. The category, minus jewelry, posted a 7.1% sales increase compared to 2006.

Electronics opened the season with a surge of 15% growth on Black Friday. Consumer spending slowed by mid-season, contributing to a modest overall growth of 2.7%.

Overall specialty apparel was up a modest 1.4%. Men’s apparel was up 2.3%, and footwear was up 6%. Meanwhile, women’s apparel had the worst showing this holiday season, with sales dropping 2.4% this year, the report said.

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Circuit City quarterly loss widens

BY CSA STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. Circuit City’s financial troubles continue, as the company today reported a wider net loss and a sales decrease for the third quarter.

The company reported that net loss from continuing operations for the quarter totaled $208 million, or $1.26 per share, compared to a net loss of $19.9 million, or 12 cents per share, for the third quarter of fiscal 2007.

For the third quarter, the company reported that net sales decreased 3.1% to $2.96 billion from $3.06 billion in the same period last year, with consolidated comparable-store sales decreasing 5.6%. Comparable-store sales increased 5.2% for the third quarter 2006.

“We are very dissatisfied with our third quarter results,” said Philip Schoonover, chairman, president and ceo of Circuit City Stores. “We underestimated the financial impact from the disruption of our transformation work, which contributed to lower close rates, reduced attachments of higher margin accessories and firedog services and lower extended warranty net sales as compared with the prior year. As a result, we are reporting lower sales and higher net losses in the quarter than last year’s third quarter.

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Best Buy names human capital evp

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Best Buy Thursday announced that John Pershing has been named evp of human capital for the corporation.

Pershing will be in charge of recruiting, training, employee relations and employee development for about 140,000 employees at Best Buys operations around the world. The companys legal department also will report to him. He will report to Brad Anderson, Best Buys vice chairman and ceo. His appointment was effective Dec. 11.

John is an engaging and energetic leader who brings a valued combination of field experience and human resources experience to his new role, said Anderson. He is a champion of the unique culture that we have built at Best Buy. John understands how the ecosystems in which our employees work must be continually adapted so that we create relevant experiences for our customers and build great relationships with them. 

Pershing joined Best Buy in 1989 as a retail manager and steadily advanced to positions of increasing responsibility. In 1999, Pershing was named divisional manager, responsible for loss prevention. He was promoted to vp of retail operations for Musicland, a former Best Buy company, in 2002. In 2005, Pershing took on a new assignment as vp of organizational alignment and the corporate transformation efforts necessary to roll out the companys customer-centric business strategy.

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