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Retail e-commerce sales see big gain in Q4, full year

BY Allison Cerra

RESTON, Va. — U.S. retail e-commerce sales experienced a strong finish in 2011, putting sales for the full year well ahead of 2010, according to ComScore.

ComScore reported that U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter totaled $49.7 billion, marking a 14% gain over the year-ago period, making it the ninth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. For the entire 2011 year, U.S. retail e-commerce spending reached $161.5 billion, marking a 13% increase from 2010. Among many contributing factors, including such major shopping days as Cyber Monday and Black Friday, ComScore said smartphones and tablets played a growing role in online shopping, with consumers increasingly using smartphones to check prices and product features while physically in a retail store.

"The fourth quarter of 2011 capped off what was yet another strong year for online retail, one in which every quarter achieved double-digit increases versus the prior year," ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said. "In the face of continuing uncertainty regarding the U.S. economy, consumers increasingly went online for their shopping needs. Price and convenience continue to be the critical value drivers for e-commerce, and unless those conditions change we can expect to see more channel-shifting to online in 2012 and perhaps even an acceleration in the current growth trend."

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Sam’s Club gets down to heart of the matter with free screenings

BY Allison Cerra

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — In honor of American Heart Month, Sam’s Club announced it will be hosting free heart health screenings on Feb. 11 at all locations with a pharmacy.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., members and guests can receive total cholesterol, HDL, glucose, body mass index and blood-pressure tests for free. During the screenings, Sam’s Club pharmacies also will offer free samples of related items, the company said.

Tests are limited to the first 100 participants at each club location. Cholesterol and glucose testing not available in Tennessee, Maryland and Hawaii; cholesterol testing is not available in New Jersey; and glucose testing not available in Pennsylvania.

In line with this weekend’s screenings, Sam’s Club on Feb. 8 will host a Twitter chat Q&A at 7 p.m. CST, whereby followers of Sam’s Club can learn more about heart health tips and guidelines. Five Twitter participants who tweet with #simplesavings and @SamsClub will receive a "healthy heart’s desire" prize pack, Sam’s Club said.

"With such high prevalence of heart disease in this country, at Sam’s Club we feel it is important to raise awareness and educate our communities about this serious health concern," Sam’s Club health-and-wellness SVP Jill Turner-Mitchael said. "In honor of February’s Heart Health Awareness Month, Sam’s Club health screenings offer individuals the opportunity to manage their heart health by first learning where they stand with several cardiovascular disease risk factors."


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Giant-Landover acquires two stores in Baltimore area

BY Alaric DeArment

LANDOVER, Md. — Supermarket chain Giant Food has acquired two supermarkets in the Baltimore area from another company, Giant said.

Giant, also known as Giant-Landover to distinguish itself from Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Pa. — both are owned by Netherlands-based Royal Ahold — said it would buy two Fresh & Green’s stores from Mrs. Green’s Management. The stores are in Baltimore and Parkville, Md.

Both stores will subsequently be closed for remodeling, and the Baltimore store will replace a Giant store at a nearby shopping center.

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