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Safeway commences 10th annual MDA campaign

BY Allison Cerra

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway announced its 10th annual campaign to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s efforts to develop treatments and assist people coping with neuromuscular diseases.

Through Labor Day, Safeway banners — including Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Genuardi’s, Carrs and Pak ‘N Save stores in the United States and Canada — will collect donations that will be distributed to MDA and Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Additionally, the company’s U.S. retail stores also will participate in the "Make a Muscle, Make a Difference" program, which provides MDA with a portion of the proceeds of specially marked products purchased by Safeway customers.

Over the years, Safeway has raised more than $58 million for muscular dystrophy charities.

"We are honored and pleased to continue our association with one of the most highly regarded charitable causes in the world," said Larree Renda, EVP and chair of the Safeway Foundation. "MDA is a remarkable organization funding more than 300 leading-edge research projects worldwide annually that are changing lives."

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AAFES celebrates 116th birthday in Iraq

BY Michael Johnsen

DALLAS — The Exchange’s Camp Liberty, Iraq, location marked the 116th birthday of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service retailer with U.S. Iraq forces leadership in attendance.

The Exchange’s Camp Liberty store manager Kelly Franz and general manager Rebecca Santee got some help getting the celebration started from Multi-National Corps – Iraq command sgt. maj. Joseph Allen, U.S. Forces – Iraq commanding general Lloyd Austin III, Exchange liaison officer lt. col. Gary Pawlak and the Exchange’s area manager in Iraq Rick Harpham.

In addition to a cake-cutting ceremony, troops were treated to an Exchange trivia contest and drawing for a Wii gaming system, the Exchange reported.

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Discounters are go-to destinations for BTS shopping, survey finds

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — Discount stores will continue to dominate as the destination for the majority of consumers’ back-to-school dollars this year, according to a survey by Accenture on parents’ back-to-school shopping plans.

The majority of parents (59%) will spend between $100 and $500 on back-to-school shopping this year, with 21% of consumers saying they plan to spend more than $500 this year. That’s down from 28% in 2010, indicating a decline in spending on the big-ticket items for school.

Indeed, the survey found that only one-quarter (25%) of parents plan to purchase computers, cell phones and other electronic items for their children, down from 36% in 2010. At the top of back-to-school shopping lists are school supplies (87%) — such as pens and paper — and clothing (80%), followed by shoes (67%), such accessories as backpacks (66%) and dorm/apartment furnishings (18%).

“Necessity, not desire, will drive this year’s back-to-school season purchases,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s retail practice. “Parents will be spending less on themselves to fund these purchases, and they will spend their dollars where they find the right mix of discounts, quality and convenience. Spending will neither be penny-pinching nor excessive, so retailers will need to keep a keen focus on inventory levels and delivering a targeted offer that meets their customers’ needs.”

Parents said their top three priorities when choosing a retailer for back-to-school products are: pricing and discounts (91%); quality of the products (69); and in-stock product (49%). Store experiences, such as customer service and loyalty programs, once again ranked low on the list of priorities.

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