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Rite Aid closes debt refinancing offer

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid has closed an offering of new debt from which it plans to generate funding for a buyback of older debt, the retailer said Tuesday.

Rite Aid announced the closing of its offering of $421 million in senior notes with a 9.25% interest rate and due in 2020. The company plans to use money from the offering to buy back 9.375% senior notes due 2015. As of Monday night, $296.3 million worth of the old notes had been put up for sale.

The company announced on May 3 that it would offer $426 million in 9.25% senior notes due 2020, which it said it was offering as additional notes under an existing indenture for which it had issued $481 million in senior notes, also at a 9.25% rate and due 2020.

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Cesar rolls out Cookie Crunchies

BY Allison Cerra

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Cesar is boosting its lineup of canine cuisine to include new bite-sized baked treats.

Cesar Cookie Crunchies, available in filet mignon and rotisserie chicken flavors, are treats shaped as mini bones, paw prints and hearts, and are 10 calories each, the company said.

"At Cesar, we know about the special relationship people share with their animal friends," said Tierney Monaco, brand director for Cesar. "With the new Cookie Crunchies, dog lovers can treat their pets to something special and delicious throughout the day, a moment of joy for your dog and for yourself."

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Retail sales soften but indicate step in ‘right direction’

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales slowed during the month of April, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

U.S. retail and food services sales for the month, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $408 billion, an increase of 0.1% from the previous month and 6.4% above the year-ago period. Retail trade sales were up 0.1% from last month and 6.1% above last year.

Looking across retail categories, adjusted sales at grocery stores during the month of April increased about 0.5% to roughly $47.3 billion. Health and personal care stores saw a slight decline to nearly $23.3 billion. Retail sales for drug stores and pharmacies were not recorded; however, sales experienced a slight drop from February to March (about $19.2 billion).

Commenting on the results, the National Retail Federation said while sales softened in April, it also marked 22 consecutive months of retail sales growth.

"Though consumer spending softened in April, retailers overall have seen solid sales growth so far this spring, a positive indicator we’re heading in the right direction," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "With 22 straight months of sustained retail sales growth, retailers are optimistic as they gear up for the all-important summer shopping season."

Added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, "The expected shortfall in April retail sales reflects the seasonal shift in consumer spending at this time each year. With Easter a full 20 days earlier this year and unseasonably warm weather, consumers started spending as early as February and March on everything from spring apparel to newly-released electronic items."

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