FINANCE

Wal-Mart to cut back electronics space in U.S. stores

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores said Tuesday it plans to reduce space for electronics in its U.S. stores, saying that sales in that category have declined.

The company will reduce floor space devoted to items such as flat-screen televisions and give some of that space to apparel, according to Rosalind Brewer, who runs the Wal-Mart East division and addressed a retail conference in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The reduction is a reversal of Wal-Mart’s 2009 move to allocate 21% more floor space to entertainment gadgets and comes after electronics contributed to a 1.8% decline in U.S. same-store sales.

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FINANCE

SpendTrend report: March growth steady despite challenging comps

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta — A report released Tuesday by First Data Corp. found that, despite tough comps and a late Easter, March 2011 same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations showed a steady uptick.

The First Data SpendTrend analysis for the full month of March 2011 compared to March 2010 showed that overall year-over-year dollar volume growth increased 8.1% in March, compared to February’s 8.4% growth rate. Excluding sales at gasoline stations, dollar volume growth was 6.9% in March versus 7.7% in February. Gasoline prices in March were up 30% year-over-year, which limited consumer discretionary spending.

Overall average ticket growth was up 1.3% in March, the largest increase in over a year. Excluding gasoline stations, average tickets grew 0.7%. With end-of-season clearance sales over, consumers are now feeling the impact of inflation, according to the report.

SpendTrend showed that signature debit dollar volume growth rose to 10.2% in March, the largest increase since December. Direct deposit of tax refunds padded consumers’ checking accounts. Credit dollar volume growth slowed to 7.7% in March after posting a 12-month high of 9.9% in February.

“Despite difficult comparables, a later Easter holiday, and soaring gas prices, March proved to be a steady month for overall consumer spending,” said Silvio Tavares, senior VP and division manager of First Data Information and Analytics Solutions.

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OPERATIONS

Walmart and Sam’s Club announce military initiatives following White House call to action

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — On the heels of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s “Joining Forces” military support announcement in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Walmart has announced its Military Family Promise.

The commitment guarantees a job at a nearby store or club for all military personnel, and military spouses, employed at Walmart and Sam’s Club who move to a different part of the country because they or their spouse have been transferred by the United States military.

In addition, through Walmart and Sam’s Club’s Military Family Promise, associates called to active military duty will continue to be paid any difference in their salary if the associate is earning less money during their military assignment.

"As one of the nation’s largest employers of veterans, we applaud the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s continued leadership when it comes to honoring and supporting our nation’s heroes," said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. "With our presence in communities across the U.S., we are in a unique position to make a difference on issues that matter most to the military and veteran communities.”

On Tuesday the retailer announced two new Foundation grants, including $1 million to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Program, which will send 300 veterans with disabilities to entrepreneurship bootcamp at one of seven major university partners, as well as facilitate the expansion of the program to two additional schools. The funds will also support small business training for more than 100 military family members.

The other is $500,000 to the SCORE Foundation to help accelerate veterans’ ability to start a business and succeed as small business owners.

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