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Health care, beauty contribute to Target’s June comps

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS — The 4.5% increase in same-store sales Target reported for June was at the higher end of the company’s expectations and came on top of a prior-year increase of 1.7%.

The gain primarily was driven by an increase in average transaction size, while growth in the overall volume of transactions appeared to be somewhat moderate.

Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said he was very pleased with the company’s performance at the upper end of a guidance range that called for a low- to mid-single-digit improvement.

“Our teams continue to focus on delivering fashion, value and reliability in every merchandise category both in stores and online. We believe that offering our guests the right combination of wants and needs, along with a great shopping experience, will lead to continued success for Target,” Steinhafel said.

With one month left to go in the company’s fiscal second quarter, Target’s overall same-store sales stand at 3.8%, which the company said is consistent with its expectation that sales results would strengthen following a first quarter in which comps advanced 2%.

Once again, the company saw the strongest performance in the grocery category — where comps increased in the mid-teens — and in health care, beauty and household essentials, where comps were in the mid- to upper-single digits. Also encouraging from a margin standpoint was the fact that the company’s apparel comps were “quite strong” and in line with the total monthly gain of 4.5%.

Other large segments of the company’s business produced uneven results. For example, the hardline businesses experienced a slight decline, but electronics posted an increase in line with the company’s average. A similar situation existed in the home areas, where overall comps declined but such categories as tabletop, sheets and storage experienced an increase above the company average.

The company also noted that its comparable-sales performance was “remarkably consistent” across the country, and it ended the month with inventories “in very good condition.”

Despite the solid June performance, Target isn’t getting ahead of itself with guidance for July and maintains that it expects comps to advance in the range of low- to mid-single digits.

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Kroger kicks off annual Neighbor-to-Neighbor program

BY Allison Cerra

DALLAS and HOUSTON — Kroger announced that its Southwest division currently is accepting applications for its annual Neighbor-to-Neighbor program.

The donation program allows nonprofits, churches, synagogues and schools (kindergarten through 12th) to earn a percentage of the $1 million the retailer awards annually. How it works: Shoppers can link their Kroger Plus card to a participating group so that each time they shop, a portion of their sale is contributed to the Neighbor-to-Neighbor fund. Community groups are awarded a percentage of the payout that reflects the number of qualifying purchases during the program year. During the 2010-2011 program, more than 2,000 charitable organizations earned funds, Kroger said.

"As the market share leader among grocers in Dallas and Houston, Kroger has the ability to positively impact the neighborhoods we serve through donations, monetary contributions and volunteerism," said Bill Breetz, president of the Kroger Southwest division. "The Neighbor-to-Neighbor program is just one way we make a difference. It’s a great program that not only makes it easy for deserving organizations to raise capital but also allows shoppers to give back effortlessly."

For more information about the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program and how to get involved, click here.

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CVS’ board OKs quarterly dividend

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark’s board of directors has approved a quarterly dividend of 12.5 cents per share.

The dividend is payable Aug. 2 to holders of record on July 22, the company noted.

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