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Sears Holdings offers peek at Q1 earnings

BY Alaric DeArment

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Holdings, the parent company of Kmart, expects to make a profit of between $155 million and $195 million in first quarter 2012, compared with a $165 million loss in first quarter 2011, the company said Tuesday.

In a statement released in advance of its annual shareholders meeting Wednesday, Sears Holdings said the profit includes $235 million from the sales of stores in the United States and Canada, which generated $440 million of cash proceeds.

For the quarter, which ended on Saturday, Kmart saw a 1.6% decrease in comps, while Sears saw a 1% decrease, resulting in a 1.3% decrease for the company overall. Still, the company said it had double-digit increases in apparel and footwear categories, offset by declines in appliance and consumer electronics sales. Kmart’s decrease also was the result of consumer electronics sales declines, while apparel and footwear saw increases.

On Monday, the company also provided an update on its plan to separate its Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores businesses from Sears Holdings. The company expected the separation to allow it to focus on its core business and raise between $400 million and $500 million, which it will use for other purposes.

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ShopperTrak: Expect to see growth in Mother’s Day sales, foot traffic

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO — Consumers are expected to shop and buy more in the week leading up to Mother’s Day than they did last year, according to a new ShopperTrak survey.

As Mother’s Day sales and traffic historically are a bright shopping spot in the retail calendar, national retail sales this year are projected to rise 6% in the week leading up to Mother’s Day and foot traffic will increase 3.7%, compared with the same period last year, ShopperTrak said. Additionally, ShopperTrak also said warmer weather, and the fact that Mother’s Day 2012 falls one week later on the calendar than last year may positively affect sales.

"As the economy improves, consumers are recovering the confidence they need to splurge on Mom this year," ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said. "Retailers can expect a busy week leading up to Mother’s Day."

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Retail clinics positioned for dramatic growth

BY Allison Cerra

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Retail clinics and medical centers are poised to expand, thanks to several enhancements in technology.

Speaking at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual meeting in San Jose this week, Health Resources chairman and CEO Ron Hammerle, and Jay Sanders, president and CEO of at the Global Telemedicine Group and Health Resources VP, said that smartphones, medical centers of excellence, automated clinical labs and digital medical devices will transform retail-affiliated clinics into global ports of entry to prime health care at dramatically lower costs to patients, physicians, employers, governments and insurers.

Sanders, who also is president emeritus of the ATA, noted, however, that "healthcare providers have largely failed to… use established channels of distribution and low-cost technologies to serve patients better;" addressing the fact that retail clinics are sometimes overlooked as a viable option for treating patients.

On the flip side of the coin, Hammerle said such clinic retailers as Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Safeway, Kroger, Target and Rite Aid are beginning to see "major growth opportunities." A few prime examples is the offering of real-time appointment scheduling (Walgreens’ Take Care Clinics), clinical affiliation with hospitals and healthcare systems (as seen with CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic business) and the fact that since the inception of retail-based health clinics in 2000, the concept has grown to more than 1,300 locations throughout the United States.

"The next round of growth will electronically link large numbers of clinics, pharmacies and independently-owned and operated primary care clinics to a small number of medical centers of excellence, using telemedicine technologies, computer information and proven systems for branding, management and expansion," Hammerle said. "Imagine combining the distribution of global retailers, the branding models of companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Marriott and Century 21 and the clinical knowledge of some of the best physicians in the world. That’s where health care is going."


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