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Shoppers waiting for Black Friday — Round 2

BY Michael Johnsen

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Shoppers who were out in full force on Black Friday may not walk retail aisles again until just before Christmas — when retailers are expected to heavily discount merchandise — according to the latest America’s Research Group/UBS "Christmas Forecast."

The nationwide holiday retail survey found that holiday shoppers have fallen squarely into two camps — early finishers and late buyers — and both are driven by the prospect of unprecedented retail deals, or at least hopes of finding them. "American consumers are either at home wrapping their gifts or laying in the weeds ready to pounce on last-minute deals," stated ARG chairman Britt Beemer. "There’s virtually no in-between."

The survey, conducted Dec. 2 to 4, found that with Christmas still several weeks away, fully 15.1% of consumers have already completed their holiday shopping, up from 11.5% at this time last year. Meanwhile, nearly 6-in-10 plan to wait for last-minute deals in the days just before Christmas — slightly less than half were willing to do that last year. Specifically, an all-time high of 41.1% said they’re holding out to see "70% off" signs before they make their way into stores.

Retailers may be happy to know that 27.3% of shoppers have spent beyond their budgets this year, up from 22.6% in 2010. Even so, with loss leaders driving so much traffic, ARG’s Beemer suggested that not everyone’s bottom line will be a cause for celebration. He noted that activity at Wal-Mart is down slightly this season — 67.4% of respondents have shopped there as compared to 68.5% who reported shopping there last year.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Consolidation is up. Only 8.4% of shoppers have scoured at least nine stores this year, down from 15.2% in 2010;

  • Online shopping has soared. The percentage shopping more online has nearly doubled since last year (25.1% vs. 13.4%);

  • Gift-card giving is up. Gift-card purchases, which had been in a decline after 2006 (42.1%), are now at a five-year high (36.8%, up from 30.2% last year and 27.3% in 2009); and

  • Self-gifting happening more often. One-third (33.3%) of shoppers have bought gifts for themselves, up from 30.6% in 2010.

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CVS Caremark’s Jim Trappani steps down

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark has confirmed that Jim Trappani, VP merchandising for health care and multicultural, has decided to leave the company.
 
Grant Pill has assumed the role of VP merchandising for over-the-counter healthcare and store brands.
 
In addition, Mike McEnany has been promoted to VP merchandising, consumables and multicultural. His most recent role was divisional merchandising manager for consumables.
 
Greg Froton also has been promoted to VP of merchandising, general merchandise and international Sourcing. His most recent role was divisional merchandising manager for general merchandise and seasonal.

The moves come in the wake of several other recent key executive changes within the company. In September, longtime CVS/pharmacy executive Mike Bloom resigned from the company and Judy Sansone, VPMM, assumed responsibility for the merchandising organization at CVS/pharmacy.

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Rite Aid offers discounted flu shots through Dec. 17

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is responding to a flu vaccination campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by lowering prices on flu vaccinations, the retail pharmacy chain said Monday.

To mark National Influenza Vaccination Week, the retailer is offering flu shots for $19.99 through Dec. 17.

"Despite popular myth, it’s not too late to get a flu shot, as flu activity usually peaks during the winter months," Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said. "There’s no better time than National Influenza Vaccination Week to get a flu shot."


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