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NRF: Holiday 2012 sales forecast to rise 4.1%, down from last year’s growth

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation released its 2012 holiday forecast on Tuesday, which shows sales increasing 4.1% to $586.1 billion, down from last year’s 5.6% growth.

However, the NRF’s 2012 estimate tops the 10-year holiday sales growth average of 3.5%.

"This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession. In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "Variables including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the ‘fiscal cliff’ and concern relating to future economic growth could all combine to affect consumers’ spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers."

Recent government data released show a crosscurrent of indicators that could impact holiday sales, including unimpressive job and income growth and an unemployment rate stuck at 8%. However, positive indicators are emerging that show a cautious but capable consumer, such as increases in confidence and home prices.

"While moderate compared to what we experienced the last two holiday seasons, the forecast is a very pragmatic look at what to expect this year given the current rate of economic growth," NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

In preparation for the holiday selling season, NRF has forecasted that retailers will hire between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers, compared with the 607,500 seasonal employees hired last year.

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Omron’s latest pedometer enters market

BY Allison Cerra

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Omron has introduced its HJ-323U downloadable pedometer.

Aimed to provide an engaging and information-driven way to improve one’s health, the new pedometer features Omron Tri-Axis technology to count steps accurately; an online Web-based solution, whereby users can access, track and share their fitness activity; an automatic reset; a weekly log, which stores up to seven days of information; a 22-day memory and also includes five tracking modes: steps, aerobic "brisk" steps, pitch "average number of aerobic steps per minute," calories and daily distance. What’s more, the new pedometer’s software is compatible for both PC and Mac users

The HJ-323U downloadable pedometer carries a suggested retail price of $49.99 and currently is available at select online retailers.


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Takeda, Lundbeck seek FDA nod for depression drug

BY Alaric DeArment

OSAKA, Japan — Drug makers Takeda Pharmaceutical and H. Lundbeck have applied with the Food and Drug Administration for a new drug to treat depression in adults.

Japan-based Takeda and Denmark-based Lundbeck announced the submission of a new drug application for Lu AA21004 (vortioxetine) for major depressive disorder.

"The prevalence and complexity of major depressive disorder remains a growing concern for physicians and those living with the condition," Takeda Global Research & Development Center president Azmi Nabulsi said. "This NDA submission is a critical milestone for Takeda and our partner, Lundbeck, demonstrating our commitment to those living with and treating this condition."


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