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Retailers could see a predicted $60 billion spent over the next week

BY Adam Kraemer

NEW YORK While retail sales for November and December were below predictions, according to reports, analysts are predicting the week after Christmas to help a lot of retailers mitigate the shortfall.

Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors, expects that retailers will ring up as much as 17 percent of their December sales—$60 billion—in the last week of the month. Of that, estimates by the National Retail Federation say $26.3 billion could be in gift cards alone. “Over the last five years, the post-Christmas week has become much more important because of gift card redemptions,” McNamara told CNN.

This is good news, especially since some early tallies this week from ShopperTrak and MasterCard Advisors said final holiday sales came in short of the NRF’s 4 percent year-on-year forecast—at 3.6 percent growth.

Retailers do not count profits made on the sale of gift cards until they are redeemed, however, which is why post-Christmas shopping can be so important to their bottom line. Many chains started advertizing their post-holiday clearance sales on Dec. 26, including Wal-Mart, which lowered prices on clothing, toys, electronics and home and kitchen products. “December 26 begins that new phase of the holiday shopping season,” chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers Michael Niemira told CNN. “Gift cards have transformed the holiday-shopping landscape and they have extended holiday shopping well past Christmas Day.”

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Sam’s Club to offer wellness demos

BY DSN STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Sam’s Club announced today that it will be offering its members health and wellness demonstrations to help them start the new year on a healthy footing.

On Jan. 5, 2008 and Jan. 12, 2008, Sam’s Club members and guests will receive free samples and demonstrations on setting realistic goals for improving their health. According to Sam’s Club, the demonstrations will highlight key products and healthy food samples. Attendants will also receive copies of Resolutions to Results Magazine, which contains healthy recipes and tips on keeping New Year’s resolutions.

“Millions of Americans have a heightened awareness of their health and wellness due to increasing reports of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more,” said Mike Pitzl, director of pharmacy operations at Sam’s Club. “Sam’s Club is pleased to give local residents in the communities we serve an opportunity to improve their health through these valuable and free services.”

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Marsh presents $111,000-plus in cookbook proceeds to Christmas charity

BY Michael Johnsen

INDIANAPOLIS WTHR-TV and Marsh Supermarkets last week presented a check for $111,412.65 to the United Christmas Service, representing proceeds from the sale of the “Sunrise Cookbook” at area Marsh and O’Malia’s stores.

The cookbook features recipes from local and national celebrities including Channel 13 Eyewitness News anchors. The book also features recipes from Indianapolis DINE magazine, area restaurants and winners of a “Sunrise Viewer Recipe Contest” held earlier in the year.

As of Dec. 19, Marsh reported selling more than 17,000 cookbooks. “When you think about the season of Christmas, this is what it is all about,” stated Frank Lazaran, president and chief executive officer of Marsh. “Giving something to families who are less fortunate and helping them provide for their kids.”

Each year, United Way of Central Indiana’s United Christmas Service helps those in need during the holiday season. Last year, more than 20,000 people received food, clothing and toys.

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