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NRF boosts holiday forecast

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation is putting its faith in the holidays by upgrading its spending forecast for the season.

After initially anticipating sales growth of 2.8%, the NRF said it now expects holiday sales to rise 3.8% to $469.1 billion. The projection may be lower than the 5.2% increase the retail industry saw last year, but the group said a number of factors, such as strong year-over-year sales and the fact that not all consumers have completed their holiday shopping lists, could provide the industry with a great gift after all.

“After strong sales reports in October and November, along with a successful Black Friday weekend, retailers are cautiously optimistic that this season will turn out better than initially expected, bringing added stability to our recovering economy at a time when America needs it most,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “However, a number of factors, including the debt crisis in Europe and continued political wrangling in Washington, could impact consumer spending this holiday season and into 2012.”

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Retail sales see slight gain in November

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales slightly edged up in November, according to U.S. Census Bureau.

U.S. retail and food services sales for November, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $399.3 billion, an increase of 0.2% from the previous month and 6.7% above November 2010. Adjusted retail sales totaled $357.5 billion, a 0.3% increase over October retail sales.

Look across retail categories, the Census Bureau reported that grocery store sales saw a decline in November, decreasing from $46.6 billion to $46.4 billion. Health and personal care stores also experienced a slight drop in November, dropped from $23.16 billion to $23.14 billion. Retail sales for drug stores and pharmacies were not recorded; however, sales did increase from September to October ($19.2 billion to $19.3 billion).

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Winn-Dixie invests $1.4 million into neighboring communities across five states

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Winn-Dixie Foundation on Thursday announced it is investing nearly $1.4 million in neighborhoods across the Southeast through partnerships with 116 nonprofit organizations, providing a broad range of services critical to helping communities flourish and individuals triumph.

“We are inspired by the stories we hear from past recipients, and we look forward to seeing the good work our newest partners will do in the coming year," stated Mary Kellmanson, Winn-Dixie marketing group VP and president of the Winn-Dixie Foundation. "Empowering these organizations through the Winn-Dixie Foundation with needed resources is one of many ways we invest in our communities.”

By providing grants to programs that feed the hungry, assist women and children in need, help the sick and address inequalities in education and health, the Winn-Dixie Foundation reaches out to neighbors in five states across the Southeast, the foundation noted.

Last year, the Winn-Dixie Foundation helped fund 83 programs assisting people who needed a helping hand.

In the past year, the foundation helped an organization feed 45,000 children in Baton Rouge, La.; helped former tennis pro MaliVai Washington’s Kids Foundation teach life skills and provide scholarships to the 20,000 kids aided by his Jacksonville, Fla., group; helped a South Florida organization in its fight against cancer; and a Central Florida organization in its battle against domestic abuse. Click here to view Winn-Dixie Foundation video.

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