FINANCE

Vitamin Shoppe Q4 profit soars 57%, plans 52 new stores in 2012

BY Katherine Boccaccio

North Bergen, N.J. — Vitamin Shoppe reported Tuesday that net income for the fourth quarter surged 57% to $9.4 million from $6 million a year earlier, boosted by strong online results and an extra week in the fiscal calendar.

The vitamin retailer, which saw revenue climb 19% to $214.9 million in the quarter, said it is planning to open 52 new stores in 2012.

"Our growth plan is on track, and we are successfully executing on our business model," said CEO Tony Truesdale. "We continue to invest in the marketing initiatives which are driving customers to our stores and to our website. I am pleased that our results exceeded our expectations."

Online revenue grew 13.2%, and same-store sales rose 6.5%.

For the full year, profit leaped 54% to $44.9 million, and revenue rose 14% to $856.6 million. Same-store sales rose 7.4%.

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FINANCE

Office Depot swings to profit in Q4

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Boca Raton, Fla. — Office Depot Inc. reported Monday that it swung to a profit of $12.3 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $108.6 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue edged up to $2.97 billion in the quarter, from $2.96 billion last year, missing Wall Street’s expected break-even on $3 billion in sales. Same-store sales dropped 5%, due in large part to a move away from promotions to shore up profitability, said the company.

“Fourth quarter 2011 results were encouraging despite a slow economic recovery in the U.S. and increasing business pressures across Europe,” said Neil Austrian, chairman and CEO.

Sales in the North American Retail Division were $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, flat versus the prior year.

Full year 2011 sales dipped 1% to $11.5 billion.

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News

Long lines drive smartphone users away

BY CSA STAFF

BOSTON — A survey sponsored by in-store commerce provider AisleBuyer found that nearly 40% of smartphone-carrying shoppers have abandoned their in-store purchases because of long lines, while 21% will abandon their purchases if there are no registers open.

“Mobile Shopping Survey Series, Part 1: Mobile Self-Service” asked more than 1,000 U.S. in-store shoppers with smartphones to share details about their retail shopping experiences. The survey also found that many smartphone-carrying shoppers "hate waiting in line," including more than half at grocery stores (52%) and at mass merchants (51%). Meanwhile, drug stores, quick service restaurants and club stores were ranked at 29%, 27% and 26%, respectively.

Other key data points from the survey include:

  • 64% of those surveyed expressed interest in scanning products from a store’s aisle using their smartphone to get such additional information as pricing, product reviews, nutritional information, related products, etc.;

  • 36% already have scanned items for more information using their smartphone; and

  • 60% of smartphone-carrying shoppers said they would use their mobile phone to pay during an in-store shopping trip if it meant they didn’t have to wait in line.

"Having to waiting in line at a store has a significant effect on a retailer’s bottom line," AisleBuyer CEO Andrew Paradise said. "Nearly half of shoppers said if a line is too long they will either leave the store without purchasing anything or only buy the few items they came for, without shopping the rest of the store. Giving these shoppers another way to pay — without having to wait in line — will increase the likelihood that they will ultimately purchase something in the store, rather than abandon the purchase due to frustration. The survey results clearly show that shoppers are interested in this alternative checkout experience — something savvy retailers are investing in as we speak.”

The AisleBuyer sponsored survey was conducted in February via Zoomeragn, an online survey services provider. The three-part survey’s results are based on 1027 respondents.

AisleBuyer is a provider of mobile commerce platforms for retailers, brands and quick service restaurants.

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