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Chain store sales spiral down in November

BY HBSDEALER Staff

U.S. chain store sales fell by a record 2.7 percent for November on a year-over-year same-store basis, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

“The November retail sales environment was an extremely difficult one with the backdrop of the recession and financial crisis still looming large in the economy,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC chief economist and director of research.

Niemira added that the poor start to the holiday season’s sales — even adjusting for special factors — has led ICSC Research to trim its November-December holiday sales forecast to between flat and down 1 percent.

“The main special factor in November was a tough comparison from last year with a calendar-shift drag on year-over-year sales, worth between 1.5 and 2.0 percentage points,” he said. “Looking ahead to December, ICSC forecasts that industry sales will grow by 1.5 percent.”

Target, for example, reported a same-store sales decline of 10.4 percent for November, which company executives attributed to cautious shopping early in November and fewer after-Thanksgiving shopping days for the month. Total sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 29 fell 6 percent to $5.61 billion.

Wal-Mart, on the other hand, said that November same-store sales rose 3.4 percent, exceeding its projections. The retailer attributed the jump to discounts on groceries, consumer electronics and Christmas decorations, as well as a drop in gas prices.

ICSC Chain Store Sales Trends is a monthly report based on publicly available sales for 37 chain stores. Industry sales aggregates are compiled for “comparable-store” or “same-store” sales and for total store sales.

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Home Depot China appoints new president

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Simon Chuen has been appointed president of Home Depot China, replacing Yves Chen, who resigned the position in November, the company said.

Chuen, who formerly served as Home Depot China’s vp-merchandising, will be responsible for managing the China operations and will work closely with The Home Depot China management team.

Home Depot said Chen, 52, a former executive of Beijing Hualian Hypermarket and Carrefour China, “left due to personal reasons.”

Home Depot acquired Tianjin HomeWay Building Materials Supermarkets in late 2006 and now operates 12 stores in Beijing, Tianjin, Xi’n, Qingdao, Shenyang and Zhengzhou.

“The Home Depot remains strongly committed to and will continue focusing on providing the best quality home-improvement products and services for Chinese customers through close collaboration with partners, relevant government agencies and the communities,” Home Depot spokeswoman Paula Drake told HCN.

During the company’s third-quarter conference call, Home Depot CEO Frank Blake described comparable-store sales in China as negative, largely due to the impact of the Olympics held in China in August.

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Ace concludes Helpful Places campaign

BY HBSDEALER Staff

On Dec. 3, Ace Hardware surprised the Camp Fire USA North Central Montana Council in Great Falls, Mont., with a $10,000 makeover, completing the “New Faces for Helpful Places” campaign for 2008.

Ace awarded money and makeover services to a total of 10 community organizations over the last several weeks, each receiving a surprise visit from Lou Manfredini, Ace’s “Helpful Hardware Man,” as well as a group of area Ace store owners and managers.

The contest began in August, when the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op began receiving entries from community organizations in need of a facelift. The 10 winners were chosen from more than 2,600 entries.

The renovation projects will take place in early 2009, and each project will be led by Manfredini and a group of local volunteers from each local market.

In addition to Camp Fire USA, other winning entries were as follows: Santa Maria Urban Ministry (San Jose, Calif.); Rio Vista Center (Phoenix, Ariz.); Macon Teen Challenge (Macon, Ga.); The Salvation Army of Lee County (Fort Myers, Fla.); Chattanooga Rescue Mission (Chattanooga, Tenn.); Springtides (Cedar Rapids, Iowa); Kids Kicking Cancer (Detroit, Mich.); First Step Home (Cincinnati, Ohio); and The Little Angel Fund (Farmingville, N.Y.).

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