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Report: Consumers spent $44 billion on holiday 2011

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

CHICAGO — Thanks to a last-minute shopping rush, Christmas 2011 likely will outpace its prior-year counterpart. According to a report released Wednesday by ShopperTrak, consumers spent approximately $44 billion in retail sales for the week ended Dec. 24, a 37.8% increase over the previous week and a 14.8% gain over the same week last year.

Foot traffic also was high, increasing 32.4% from the previous week.

The last-minute sales increase ensured this December will outpace December 2010. Month-to-date figures are up 4.7% over December 2010.

“Holiday shopping reached a climax last week,” ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said. “With good weather in most of the country and the season coming to a close, procrastinators and bargain hunters hit the stores and gave retailers the sales lift they needed to outpace last year.”

According to ShopperTrak, a late holiday shopping surge is not uncommon. Last year, the 10 days before Christmas accounted for 24.4% of total retail sales in the entire holiday shopping season of November and December.

“Increased foot-traffic does not always translate into sales,” Martin said. “Retailers who monitored their foot-traffic hourly and adjusted inventory and staffing to convert shoppers into buyers were the most successful last week.”

As expected, shoppers came out in full force on the day after Christmas because it fell on a Monday for the first time in six years. The day ranked fourth in foot traffic and sales for the entire holiday season, behind Black Friday, Nov. 26, Friday, Dec. 23 and Super Saturday, Dec. 17. Foot traffic increased 25.9% over the same day last year and consumers spent $7.1 billion on Dec. 26 in retail sales, an increase of 25.5% over the same day last year.

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Topco president and CEO to retire

BY Allison Cerra

SKOKIE, Ill. — Topco, a member-owned cooperative serving the food industry, announced the retirement of president and CEO Steven Lauer.

Lauer, who joined the cooperative in 1993, initially served as CFO before being promoted to president and CEO in 1999. Under his leadership, Topco’s membership grew to 51 retail, wholesale and foodservice member-owners.

Stepping in as interim president and CEO is Randall Skoda, who has served as Topco’s EVP since 2007 and is responsible for overseeing Topco’s program management, product and brand development, innovation and not-for-resale groups, Topco said.

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Sam’s Club unveils New Year’s resolutions-based health screenings program

BY Rob Eder

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — To help its members keep their New Year’s resolutions, including weight loss, eating better and quitting smoking, Sam’s Club will offer a variety of free in-club health screenings and smoking-cessation consultations.

In all markets it serves, the company will offer health screenings — valued at up to $100 — including cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and Body Mass Index, to help members understand where they are starting from as they embark on their New Years resolutions. (Quantities and supplies are limited per club and some limitations and restrictions apply by state.)

In addition, Sam’s Club will also use the event to help launch a new smoking-cessation program in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline. Through the new "Make this your ONE place to quit" program, Sam’s Club will make its pharmacists available to members and pharmacy patients for special one-on-one smoking-cessation consultations. In addition to the initial consultation, specially trained Sam’s Club pharmacists will work with members on a personal quit plan, including a special resource guide, and offer Nicorette and NicoDerm products to help quit smoking.

"At Sam’s Club, we provide important health solutions like free in-Club health screenings and new smoking-cessation resources to simplify the process of realizing personal health goals," said Jill Turner-Mitchael, senior vice president, Sam’s Club health and wellness. "Starting the New Year with Sam’s Club health and wellness services is a great first step in determining the health regimen that best fits one’s lifestyle and budget for the coming year."

During the January 14 screening events, Sam’s Club will also offer free samples of health-related products including, Atkins low-carb snack and meal replacement bars and Emergen-C vitamin supplement mix.

In support of American Heart Month next month, next up on the Sam’s Club health screenings calendar, the clubs will focus on heart health screenings.
 

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