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Target comps tumble 1% in November

BY Mike Troy

A worse than expected 1% decline in November same store sales indicates the holiday season is off to a slow start at Target. The 1% decline was substantially worse than the low single digit increase the company forecast at the start of the month when it reported a 2.4% increase for October that was toward the low end of guidance.

The November weakness suggests traffic trends may be deteriorating at Target, as the company blamed the decline on a decrease in comparable store transactions following that metric’s flat performance in October.

“November sales were below our expectations, reflecting weaker-than-planned sales performance in the first two weeks combined with stronger sales growth across all channels later in the month,” said Gregg Steinhafel, Target chairman, president and CEO. “Profitability for the month remained on plan, reflecting our efforts to balance thoughtful price investments in an intensely competitive environment with our continued focus on driving sales.”

Steinhafel sought to reassure investors disturbed by the November performance that the best is yet to come from the company, and indicated same-store sales for the five-week December reporting period would increase in the low single-digits.

“With the upcoming launch of the Target/Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection, our unique assortment of exclusive, affordable merchandise and the compelling benefits of 5% REDcard Rewards and our Holiday Price Match, we believe Target has the right plans in place to allow our guests to shop with confidence throughout the holiday season,” Steinhafel said.

As in prior months, Target’s strongest growth came in the food category, which produced a mid- single-digit increase in health and beauty, which experienced a low single-digit increase. However, the home and apparel categories both decreased in the low single-digit range, and hard lines dropped by mid- single-digits. The company’s performance was strongest in portions of the south, and softest in portions of the northeast.

The worse than expected comp figures come as Target is experiencing a modest uptick in delinquency rates in its credit card receivables portfolio. Target said the percentage of accounts 60 days past due in November was 2.7% and the 90 days past due total was 1.9%. Those figures hit lows for the year of 2.5% and 1.7%, respectively, this past summer. Even at the slightly higher amount, both metrics are half of what they were several years ago.

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AccentHealth acquires patient education wallboard business of Havas’ Impact division

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — AccentHealth on Wednesday announced it has purchased the patient education wallboard business of Havas’ Impact division. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

The acquisition solidifies AccentHealth’s leadership position at the point-of-care, now reaching 26,000 offices and more than 63,000 doctors through its Health Education Television Waiting Room Network that features award-winning programming provided by CNN, the company stated. 

"Havas has built a valuable network reaching patients and doctors in a broad range of offices,” stated Dan Stone, CEO of AccentHealth. “The acquisition allows us to expand not only our existing health panel business, but our in-office media platform as a whole," he said. "We have always been committed to providing the best patient education experience for our viewers, their doctors and for marketers. This expansion continues that commitment.”

Specifically, the acquisition adds substantial reach to AccentHealth’s existing “health panel” media business — engaging, graphical wall-mounted displays that showcase relevant, advertiser-supported educational content around health and wellness-related topics.

The company will also be launching a suite of new cross-platform interactive products, complementing AccentHealth’s existing digital waiting room television network. This will provide unique promotional opportunities to advertising partners while further informing patients and enhancing the overall patient experience, the company noted. 

“Our marketing partners are looking for both targeting capability and scale,” noted John Curbishley, EVP business and product development of AccentHealth. ”This acquisition further increases our ability to deliver on both of these goals.”

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Weis Markets donates $22,000 to the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis Markets on Wednesday announced it will donate $22,000 to the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children, established in 2011 to help prevent child abuse, improve reporting of suspected abuse and provide comprehensive care to children who have experienced abuse.

Under the “Touchdowns for Children” campaign, every Nittany Lion touchdown earned $500 from Weis for the duration of the regular 2012 season. Proceeds will go towards funding targeted research, treatment and education at the center.

“We’re proud to partner with the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children and to support a vital program designed to prevent and detect child abuse while offering aid and assistance to victims and their families,” stated Brian Holt, VP marketing for Weis Markets. “As a company that gives back to the communities it serves, we have a longstanding history of supporting local hunger organizations and community-based healthcare programs benefiting children.”

Weis Markets has been a corporate partner of Penn State Athletics for nearly a decade and works directly with Penn State Sports Properties, a property of Learfield Sports and the multimedia rights holder for Penn State Athletics.

To listen to the radio announcement for "Touchdowns for Children," click here.

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