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Fred’s records slight uptick in 3Q sales

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Super Dollar on Thursday reported an increase of 1% in total sales to $450.6 million for its third quarter ended Oct. 27. Comparable store sales for the quarter declined 2.5% compared with an increase of 1.5% in the third quarter of 2011.

"We were pleased with the response to our increased marketing initiatives that began in October, resulting in positive customer traffic and higher general merchandising comparable store sales," stated Bruce Efird, CEO Fred’s. "One of our key end-of-year programs was the initiation of a $1 down holiday season layaway program, which dramatically increased layaway sales during the month," he noted. "Also, we continued to see growth in script counts in our pharmacy department during October, but this was more than offset by the sales impact of the ongoing brand-name-to-generic conversion. The effect of this shift on total and comparable store sales was 250 basis points in October."

Fred’s increased its projected earnings per share for the year to fall in the range of 96 cents to $1.02 per share. "With the implementation of several key new merchandising and marketing initiatives in the fourth quarter, and the positive impact of the forward shifting of layaway sales and earnings, we continue to project a double-digit earnings per share improvement for 2012," Efird said. 

During the month, Fred’s opened three stores and one express pharmacy location and closed one store.

 

 

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CVS Caremark donates more than $100K to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark announced on Wednesday a donation of more than $100,000 to the American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund to provide support to communities that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy.
 
A donation of $50,000 was made from the company’s foundation, the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. In addition, CVS/pharmacy is providing snacks and bottled water valued at more than $50,000 to distribute in communities in New Jersey that were impacted by the hurricane.

"Many of our communities on the East Coast were affected by Hurricane Sandy," stated Eileen Howard Boone, SVP corporate communications and community relations for CVS Caremark. "We are deeply concerned about the impact this storm has had on our customers and colleagues, and we are committed to supporting relief efforts and assisting first-responders, including our partners at the American Red Cross, in any way we can."

CVS Caremark is also supporting its employees who have been affected by the hurricane through the CVS Caremark Employee Relief Fund. Launched in 2011, the Employee Relief Fund provides short-term, immediate financial relief to employees who’ve suffered significant hardship as a result of a natural disaster, family death, medical emergency or other unforeseen events.

The American Red Cross is helping people across 13 states with shelter, food and comfort as part of a huge disaster response to Sandy. More than 9,000 people spent Tuesday night in 171 Red Cross shelters, and workers have served more than 100,800 meals and snacks. The organization has deployed more than 2,300 disaster workers from all over the country. Nearly 200 response vehicles also have been deployed and are beginning to circulate through communities distributing meals, water and snacks.

"Hurricane Sandy’s winds, rains and snow brought devastation and uncertainty to millions of people; and thanks to the support of donors, such as CVS Caremark, the American Red Cross is providing immediate relief and staying to help as people begin to take steps to recovery," added Roger Lowe, SVP communications for the American Red Cross. "We’re grateful for CVS Caremark’s dedication to the Red Cross mission."

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Wall Street: Hurricane Sandy may have whipped up front-end sales prior to coming ashore

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Hurricane Sandy may have shut down lower Manhattan for a few days, but research analyst Ed Kelly of Credit Suisse was bullish on how the storm system may have whipped up front-end sales for pharmacy operators. 

"Front-end sales [are] likely to get a boost from Sandy," he wrote in a note published Wednesday. "While drug stores’ front-end sales are likely to continue to be pressured by channel shifting to value-oriented players and aggressive growth of small-box formats like dollar stores, we believe October sales should be better than recent trends," he suggested. "Hurricane Sandy likely provided a boost to sales, as consumers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic stocked up for this catastrophic event."

Pharmacy prescription sales should also be up, Kelly wrote, as summertime improvements should continue. "Script growth, as reported by IMS, was up a solid 2.7% for the latest four-week period ended Oct. 19, in line with the prior four-week period," Kelly noted. 

Two prominent New York City retailers will report October sales in the coming week. Rite Aid is expected to report October sales Nov. 1 and Walgreens Nov. 5. 

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