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Harris Teeter may be next grocer to explore ‘strategic options’

BY Michael Johnsen

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Carolina retailer Harris Teeter may be exploring a sale, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday evening

According to the report, Harris Teeter is being advised by JP Morgan. WSJ tabulated Harris Teeter’s market value at $1.8 billion for its 200 supermarkets. 

Harris Teeter recently reported a sales increase of 3.7% for its first quarter ended Jan. 1 to $1.2 billion. The chain reported that sales increase was driven by an increase in comparable store sales of 2.5% and sales from new stores, partially offset by store closings.  

“We continue to focus on driving unit sales and growing our market share," stated Thomas Dickson, Harris Teeter chairman and CEO at the time first quarter results were announced. "During the first quarter of fiscal 2013, our pricing and promotional strategies were effective in this regard, as evidenced by an increase in the number of active households and number of customer visits we experienced over the prior year. However, aggressive pricing by competitors, low inflation during the period and the generally sluggish retail environment experienced during the holiday season combined to put downward pressure on our gross profit."

 

 

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ThinkGeek introduces nostalgia-scented candles

BY Rebecca Haughey

FAIRFAX, Va. — ThinkGeek’s GeekLabs on Wednesday announced the launch of four votive candles scented to evoke special memories, from a pizza arcade to a high school locker room.

"You always see candles that take you on ‘exotic journeys’," staid Ty Liotta, chief of GeekLabs. "We wanted to create something more accessible. Something that every geek will relate to."

The four exclusive candle scents include: "Middle Earth," evoking grass, rolling farmland and bright blue sky; "Retro Arcade," scented like candy, pizza and a pocket full of quarters; "Teen Spirit," reminiscent of high school; and "Space," meant to smell like the ozone and neutral zone.

The GeekLabs department of ThinkGeek has been responsible for creations like the Annoy-a-tron and Mega Stomp Panic. This is their first work with the wax candles. ThinkGeek, a subsidiary of Geeknet, is a retailer for the global geek community.


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Small increase in January retail sales indicate ‘stable yet fragile economy,’ NRF says

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Retail sales were up slightly in January as the increases in payroll taxes and energy prices forced consumers to change spending habits, according to a new report by the National Retail Federation.

According to the NRF, retail sales for the month increased 0.3% compared with December and by 5.4% unadjusted year-over-year. When factoring in non-general merchandise such as automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, those figures were 0.1% and 4.7%, respectively. Health and personal care stores’ sales decreased 1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 0.7% unadjusted year-over-year. General merchandise stores sales increased by 1.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 0.3% unadjusted year-over-year.

"Today’s retail sales figures continue to indicate a stable yet fragile economy," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "Consumers are continuing to hold back on spending just as our economy is held back by political brinkmanship in D.C. The failure to address the critical challenges confronting our economy will continue to dampen consumer confidence, which will in turn mute sales and growth. The economy will continue to limp along until our politicians finally address our tax and spending challenges and put forward a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda."

The NRF released its annual retail sales forecast for this year in late January, estimating that retail industry sales — excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants — will increase 3.4%, while online sales will grow by 9% to 12%.


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