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Sears store-within-a-store concept features fitness equipment

BY Alaric DeArment

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Holdings recently finished its latest "Fitness Flagship" store-within-a-store, which it now has at more than 30 Sears stores, the retailer said.

Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart store chains, said the 6,000-sq.-ft. stores feature polished hardwood stores, tall mirrors and expanded fitness equipment layouts designed to resemble a gym.

The company also said its fitness website, FitStudio, has become "the most comprehensive online fitness community for both fitness enthusiasts and professionals." The site includes blog posts about fitness trends, video demonstrations of exercises and workouts and a database with information on more than 130,000 personal trainers and fitness events.

"Whether just starting a new workout routine or a longtime fitness enthusiast, customers want a complete solution," Sears Holdings SVP and president for fitness, sporting goods and toys Hugo Malan said. "Sears sells more fitness equipment than anyone else, and we believe in continually improving our offering, so we have built an online fitness community and developed new destinations that attract customers both in-store and online."

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Harris Teeter raises $279K for Together in Education program

BY Allison Cerra

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Harris Teeter has donated more than $279,000 to schools participating in Together in Education, a program designed to financially help schools in communities where Harris Teeter stores are located.

Harris Teeter said TIE’s donation of $279,572.98 to schools is the first of three payouts of the 2011/2012 school year. With this donation, the program’s fundraising total now is more than $16.1 million since it was established in 1998. How it works: Schools registered for a TIE code earn money when community members who link their loyalty cards (known as VIC) to a TIE code purchase Harris Teeter Brands or fill a prescription at a Harris Teeter pharmacy.

Harris Teeter’s TIE runs from August to May.

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Fred’s December sales rise, comps fall

BY Allison Cerra

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — December sales for Fred’s realized a 1% gain to a total of $213 million, the discounter said Thursday.

Comparable-store sales for Fred’s saw a decline of 0.4% in December, compared with an increase of 0.2% in the same period last year.

Fred’s CEO Bruce Efird said sales were affected by unseasonably warm weather and continue to be at the low and midpoint of its projected fourth-quarter earnings per share range.

During the month, Fred’s opened seven net stores, including five new pharmacies.

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