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Wal-Mart Kicking Off Holiday Early

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Wal-Mart Stores announced Wednesday that it has cut prices on popular toys and is ramping up the opening of its in-store Christmas shops. The move is key to the discounter’s strategy to win sales from cash-strapped shoppers in what is expected to be a grim holiday for many retailers.

Wal-Mart said it will sell 10 toys, including certain Barbie dolls and Tonka trucks, for $10 each. It is also putting its Christmas shops on the “fast track” and intends to open the shops, which sell ornaments and holiday decor, nationwide by Oct. 10.

Last year, Wal-Mart cut prices on hot toys on Sept. 30 to try to persuade hesitant shoppers to spend on holiday items.

Wal-Mart is not alone in trying to get shoppers into the holiday mood. Macy’s Inc has set up its Holiday Lane Christmas shops in its stores, while discount retailer Target Corp is also selling holiday ornaments and decor.

In announcing its holiday plans, Wal-Mart also released the results of its 2008 Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey, in which 61% of the respondents said they do not plan on reducing their holiday spending this year. However, to help deal with the uncertain economy, 39% said they plan to purchase less expensive items.

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Staples partners with Blackhawk for gift cards

BY CSA STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. Staples has announced an exclusive partnership with the Blackhawk Network, the largest third-party provider of prepaid gift-cards, to carry Blackhawk’s Signature Gift Card Mall, currently found in grocery stores such as Safeway. Blackhawk’s Gift Card Mall features over 300 branded gift cards across categories such as fashion, tickets, electronics, home and sports.

“Consumers love buying and receiving gift cards, and putting the Gift Card Mall in Staples stores will make it easy and convenient for our customers to buy a wide variety of gift cards,” said Mark Mettler, senior vp and gmm at Staples.

“Staples is a valuable retail outlet for us because of its understanding of the B2B aspect of our business,” said Don Kingsborough, ceo of Blackhawk Network. “Working with Staples, we will reach small business owners and give them the ability to purchase prepaid gift cards for their employees in the same place they buy office supplies.”

Staples is the first office supply store to carry Blackhawk gift cards.

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RadioShack appoints new chief marketer

BY CSA STAFF

FORT WORTH, Texas RadioShack announced the appointment of Lee Applbaum to the position of evp and chief marketing officer. Applbaum will be responsible for advertising, brand management, customer relations management and marketing and will report to chairman and ceo Julian Day. He will also serve as a member of the office of the chairman, comprised of Day; Bryan Bevin, evp of store operations; Jim Gooch, evp and cfo and Peter Whitsett, evp of merchandising.

“Lee’s joining us at RadioShack represents another significant step in strengthening our senior management team,” said Day. “Lee’s background and successful track record position him well to add value to our brand.”

Applbaum began his career at Lederle Consumer Health, a division of American Cyanamid Co., shortly after earning his MBA in 1994 from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has also worked at The Coca-Cola Co., Schlotzsky’s, Footstar and The David’s Bridal Group, a division of Federated Department Stores. Immediately prior to joining RadioShack, Applbaum was the chief marketing officer for The Schottenstein Stores Corp.

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