Sears adds Great Indoors to closing list
Sears quietly added all nine of its Great Indoors stores to the list of store closings on Feb. 23.
Store managers were informed on Thursday, a Sears spokeswoman confirmed, but no exact date has been given for the closings.
The upscale remodeling and home décor stores began opening in 1998, long before the Sears and Kmart merger. At one point, Sears operated 20 of the units, but they were never a big moneymaker for the company.
The nine remaining stores are located in Scottsdale and Chandler Ariz.; Lone Tree, Colo.; Lombard, Ill.; Gaithersburg, Md.; Novi, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; Farmers Branch and Houston, Texas.
After posting a $2.4 billion loss for its fourth fiscal quarter, parent company Sears Holdings announced it would divest some of its real estate portfolio to help bolster its retail operation. This included some of its smaller Hometown and Outlet stores for $400 to $500 million as well as some hardware stores, as well as 11 stores to mall owner General Growth Properties to raise $270 million. That deal, which includes stores that are currently located on GGP properties, is expected to close in April.
An updated list of Sears and Kmart store closings, part of a plan announced in late December to eventually close 100 to 120 stores, can be found here.
Andersen begins conversion to cleaner fleet
Andersen Corporation opened a new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station near the company’s Menomonie, Wis., plant.
Located at the Cedar County Cooperative Cenex, this station provides a new alternative fuel source for Andersen as it begins to convert its transportation fleet to CNG, reducing both operating costs and carbon dioxide emissions for the company.
The CNG station is the result of a unique partnership between Andersen, Dart Transit Company, U.S. Oil (a division of U.S. Venture, Inc.), Breakthrough Fuel, and Xcel Energy, and highlights a new type of market collaboration implementing this new technology. The conversion of the first seven trucks to CNG will reduce emissions by 28 percent per year. The total savings that Andersen will gain in moving to CNG will range between $1.25 and $1.75 per gallon, depending on the market price of diesel.
“We believe finding new ways to use alternative energy is one way to help restore economic growth for everyone, and this project shows how the rubber literally meets the road,” said Lance Whitacre, vice president, logistics at Andersen Corporation. “Leveraging this unique partnership today yields far-reaching benefits for us that improve the triple bottom line – good for people, profitable for companies and beneficial for the environment.”
Natural gas vehicles show an average reduction in ozone-forming emissions of 80% compared to diesel-powered vehicles. Additionally, more than 99% of the natural gas used in the United States comes from domestic or other North American sources.
Compared to liquefied natural gas and diesel fuel, CNG has the lowest price, lowest emissions and an extensive infrastructure in place. Of the 1,000 CNG stations in North America, though, less than half of those are truck-friendly.
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Study sees danger in gas prices
A new study of the impact of rising gasoline prices on consumer spending shows that gasoline prices of $4.25 per gallon could cut estimated 2012 retail sales growth from its current 5.7% pace to an anemic 2.3%.
The report, from the New Canaan, Conn.-based consulting firm Customer Growth Partners (CGP) was based on an analysis of energy prices and economic activity dating back 40 years. The retail consultancy found that five of the last six U.S. recessions over that period have been correlated with, if not caused by, rising energy prices — particularly gasoline prices.
CGP president Craig Johnson said: “Although recessions are normally caused by a complex combination, every recession of the past four decades — with the exception of the 9-11 year of 2001—has been marked by energy prices that exceed a ‘tipping point’ of 6% of the consumer dollar, when we send so much money to the oil countries that it takes the wind out of consumer spending."
According to the CGP study, whenever rising prices cause energy to exceed 6% of the consumer dollar for more than a few months, the economy can tip into recession.
The American Automobile Association’s tally for the average price of a gallon of regular gas stood at $3.65 on Friday, up from $3.23 a year ago.
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