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Consumer confidence, high spending fuel retail sales

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Retail sales are up nearly 5% from one year ago, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Commerce.

Amid improved consumer confidence and higher spending, May retail sales — which exclude cars, gas stations and restaurants — increased 4.8% from May 2012 and 0.6% from last month.

"The American consumer continues to drive the U.S. economy," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, a Washington-based trade group. "In spite of fluctuating gas prices, severe weather in much of the country and fiscal policy uncertainty, consumers continue to demonstrate an inherent resiliency and flexibility. We should never underestimate the role and strength of the American shopper or the retailers that serve them."

Stores that specialize in heath and personal care had sales increase by 0.5% since last May and by 0.2% since last month, while building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers saw sales increase by 9.3% since last May and by 0.9% since last month. General merchandise stores experienced a 2.3% sales increase since last May and a 0.5% increase since last month.

Some analysts expect retail sales to remain under pressure, but still increase.

"We continue to believe that consumer spending and retail sales growth will remain modest during the balance of 2013 due to fiscal restraint-oriented pressure on personal income," Guggenheim Securities analyst John Heinbockel wrote in a note to investors following the release of the Commerce Department numbers. "There will likely, however, be a weather-driven pick-up in the next month or two on a catch-up in summer seasonal spending. In a modest growth environment, we favor share gaining consumables-driven retailers like the dollar stores."


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Emdeon buys Goold Health Systems

BY Alaric DeArment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Emdeon has bought a company that provides pharmacy benefit and related services to state Medicaid agencies, Emdeon said.

Emdeon announced the acquisition of Goold Health Systems. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"The acquisition expands Emdeon’s position in the government pharmacy benefit administration market while enhancing our existing pharmacy benefit operations," Emdeon EVP pharmacy services Kevin Mahoney said.

 

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Powerade enters water-enhancement arena with new zero-calorie Drops

BY Jason Owen

ATLANTA — Powerade, a Coca-Cola brand, announced last week the addition of a new zero-calorie water-enhancement product that provides the same hydration solution as the traditional ready-to-drink sports beverage.

Powerade Zero Drops transforms regular tap or bottled water into a zero-calorie sports drink to replenish necessary electrolytes — like calcium, magnessium, potassium and sodium — lost through sweat during workouts with its Ion4 Advanced Electrolyte System.

Each variety of Powerade Zero Drops is available in a 3-fl oz squeezable bottle and makes approximately 24, 8-fl oz servings. The convenient size allows the consumer to forego carrying larger, heavier bottles, marketing to those who exercise away from the home.

“Convenience is key,” said Ilan Sobel, senior vice president, Glacéau. “Between class, practice, errands and work, our lives are becoming busier and busier by the day. With Powerade Zero Drops, we’re providing athletes with even more options to help hydrate with sports drinks. And, we’re doing it without sacrificing any of the great-taste or zero-calorie, electrolyte-enhanced refreshment that people have come to expect from us.”

Powerade Zero Drops comes in three flavors: mountain berry blast, fruit punch and orange. Zero Drops has a suggested retail price of $3.99 and offers 33% more servings versus the primary competitive flavor-enhancer with electrolytes, the company stated. Powerade Zero Drops can be found in the drink aisle at retailers nationwide.


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