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Costco sees sales gain in March

BY Allison Cerra

ISSAQUAH, Wsh. — Costco experienced a 17% increase in its monthly sales ended April 3, totaling nearly $7.2 billion.

Costco was positively impacted by the calendar shift; the company’s five-week period for March included 35 days this year, compared with 34 days last year. The wholesale retailer noted the comparable-store sales saw an 11% boost. Excluding such effects as inflation in gasoline prices and strengthening foreign currencies, which had a positive impact on comparable sales, Costco said comps would have increased 7%.

Costco noted that its five-week period included sales from the company’s Mexico joint venture. The company began consolidating its Mexico operations on a prospective basis beginning with its 2011 fiscal year. Excluding sales from its Mexico joint venture, Costco’s net sales increase would have been 14%.

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Target’s March sales drop

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS — Target’s March sales dropped 4.5% to $5.95 billion, compared with the year-ago period.

The retailer also disclosed that comparable-store sales for the five weeks dropped 5.5%, which was in line with expectations, as they reflected the later timing of the Easter holiday, according to the company’s chairman, president and CEO, Gregg Steinhafel.

"Our stores are well-prepared for the upcoming Easter season, and we continue to expect a mid-teens increase in Target’s April comparable-store sales," Steinhafel noted.

Looking ahead, Target continues to expect its first quarter 2011 U.S. retail segment EBITDA margin rate will range from 9.7% to 10%.

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Supervalu banners emphasize healthy eating among youth

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS — Four Supervalu banners are looking to boost healthy eating among children by offering parents fresh ideas for nutritious snacking.

Acme, Farm Fresh, Shaw’s and Shoppers stores will launch on their respective Facebook pages a video grocery tour with Supervalu’s registered dietitian, Jennifer Shea, who will share the secrets to filling a shopping cart with the great-tasting foods kids want and the nutrients they need.

"To young children, the word ‘healthy’ can sometimes be translated as ‘boring and tasteless.’ This makes it less likely that kids will choose the healthy options. But, parents, jazz up those snacks and you’ll have the kids choosing nutrient-packed snacks every time," Shea said.

Shea’s tips include turning "scary foods" (especially vegetables) into delightful snacks; making healthy snacks, such as string cheese or fruit dippers, a "grab-and-go" convenience and turning staple favorites (i.e., trail mixes and mini pizzas) into nutritious snacks.

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