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United Way recognizes Publix for philanthropy

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — On Wednesday evening, United Way recognized Publix Super Markets with two Summit awards for philanthropic engagement and community impact, the two companies announced Thursday.

Publix’s 2011 United Way campaign raised $45.6 million — a 12% increase over 2010 — plus associates’ per capita gifts exceeded the food industry average by 398%. Publix associates also volunteered 900,000 hours, including more than 1,500 associates serving on United Way and nonprofit boards.

"Community service is a way of life for Publix and its associates," stated Brian Gallagher, United Way Worldwide president and CEO. "Their incredible generosity and commitment to improving communities is an important part of their heritage. Together, we’ve been able to make a positive, lasting impact in countless people’s lives."

Publix leveraged its 1,051 stores by communicating United Way on 220 million grocery bags, reaching 40 million customers. Publix also shared education messages with parents by featuring Born Learning education tips on store shelf signs and including them in customer newsletters like Baby Club and Preschool Pals. Further, Publix Super Markets Charities chairman and CEO Carol Barnett worked with United Way of Central Florida to bring the Success By 6 national model to Central Florida, and helped grow it from one county to many more throughout Florida and the Southeast. Success By 6 is a United Way communitywide early childhood initiative that ensures children are ready to succeed in school and life by age 6.

Publix also is involved in Let’s Grow, an early literacy effort that has demonstrated up to 76% improvement in state assessment scores at childcare centers.

"I am so proud to be a part of Publix," commented Barney Barnett, vice chairman of Publix. "It’s not just a supermarket; it’s a group of kindhearted, energetic, effective people who are dedicated to doing the right thing, and who make our world better each and every day."

Publix ranked No. 1 on the Corporate Social Responsibility Index as determined by the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College.

The Spirit of America and Summit Awards program, celebrating its 25th year, is United Way’s highest national honor for corporations, recognizing United Way Global Corporate Leaders with the most comprehensive commitments to strengthening communities. Applicants are evaluated by corporate peers and local United Ways.

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Charitable bottled water company claims top prize in Walmart contest

BY Allison Cerra

SAN BRUNO, Calif. — HumanKind Water, PlateTopper and SnapIt Eyeglass Repair Kit have the distinction of being the winners of Walmart’s Get on the Shelf contest — beating out more than 4,000 inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses to claim the coveted prize of being carried in Walmart’s U.S. stores, as well as on Walmart.com.

HumanKind Water, a bottled water company that gives 100% of its net profits towards clean drinking water for underdeveloped communities worldwide, was the grand-prize winner. PlateTopper, a kitchen product that transforms dinner plates into airtight food storage containers, came in second. SnapIt Eyeglass Repair Kit, a screw kit to fix glasses in 30 seconds, was the third winner. All three products will be available on Walmart.com and HumanKind Water also will be on physical shelves in select Walmart’s U.S. stores soon.

"Get on the Shelf has brought out the best in American ingenuity and creativity with products that are clever, fun and useful," said Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com. "The three winners demonstrated a deep passion, incredible imagination, and sheer persistence in their journey. We congratulate them and are proud to carry their products at Walmart."

Get on the Shelf, a program from @WalmartLabs, launched in January, where contestants sent in videos of their latest inventions to be voted on by the public. For more information, visit Getontheshelf.com.

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Warm weather helps Target deliver Q1 comps growth

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS — April same-store sales at Target increased 1.1% and helped the company achieve a 5.3% first-quarter comps increase that was the highest in six years. How much of the performance was due to record warm weather versus good execution of a solid strategy against the back drop of an improved economy is debatable.

The 1.1% April comp wasn’t very impressive, unless of course you take into consideration the shift in Easter, which fell earlier this year and caused a portion of the sales related to the holiday to fall into March. That made for some wacky comparisons when viewed monthly basis. For example, in April 2011 the company reported a 13.1% comps increase. Given the magnitude of that increase, a 1.1% gain this year looks pretty good even though it is a lighter number, compared with the February and March figures when exceptionally warm weather drove sales.

“We’re very pleased with Target’s strongest quarterly comparable-store sales performance in more than six years, which, as we’ve previously indicated, received an early-season boost from the combination of warm weather and an earlier Easter,” Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said. “Target’s underlying sales trend remains quite healthy, as guests respond to a unique combination of fashion and great prices, combined with the convenience and value created by our remodel program and 5% REDcard Rewards.”

It’s good to see Steinhafel acknowledge that weather played a role in the company’s performance because it is far from clear whether the pace of sales activity is sustainable given larger trends in the overall economy. The other great unknown is to what extent ridiculously warm weather pulled forward consumer demand so that shoppers now don’t need to buy some of the stuff they would normally buy in the later spring and summer months. Given these variables, Target said it expects May same-store sales in the low- to mid-single digits.

As for April, once again comps were strongest in food, health and beauty and other household essentials.

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