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CVS upgrades Kodak picture kiosks to include more photo gift-making

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy has enhanced its Kodak picture kiosks so consumers can now create photo gifts using the touch screen kiosks found at all CVS/pharmacy One Hour Photo Centers.

The portfolio of gifts available online and/or in-store include photo cookies, photo playing cards and photo plates featuring the Disney High School Musical cast, Barbie and Hannah Montana, which puts consumers’ favorite snapshot on display with their favorite characters. In addition, the in-store kiosks and online photo centers have a new look and feel for an easier and faster photo experience.

The enhanced kiosks include a new on-screen menu designed to help customers start a project, while learning more about other offerings. The new software automatically detects digital media (USB drives, memory cards, CDs, etc.) and organizes by date and folders, eliminating the time and hassle of searching for customers’ favorite photos.

The online photo center provides free online photo storage on CVSPhotoCenter.com. Using the site, consumers can upload their images, order photo gifts and share photo galleries with friends and family. The online photo center also features a new look offering a streamline interface and additional features including photo slideshows and before and after editing views.

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Consumers in tough economy enticed by value, Citi Investment analyst says

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Retailers who are chasing that value-oriented consumer across the store are best positioned to profit in this tough economic environment, reported Citi Investment Research analyst Deborah Weinswig in a research note Tuesday.

“Consumers are changing their shopping behavior to adapt to the current economic environment, and Nielsen data has shown that consumers are shifting to value channels, buying more private label products and increasing their coupon usage,” she said. “We believe that the retailers who cater to this value-focused consumer through low prices and targeted promotions are best-positioned to drive sales and gain market share in this environment.”

That bodes well for retailers who traditionally chase after that savings-conscious consumer, such as super centers and dollar stores—two channels that experienced an increase in foot traffic in the third quarter of 2008. And it ought to have meant good tidings for channels like drug stores and clubs as well, thanks to either the convenience position in the marketplace or, as is the case with club stores, the potential of buying bulk at a significant per-unit cost savings. However, while both the drug and club channels realized higher foot traffic in the third quarter, that traffic spiraled negative for the four weeks ending Sept. 27. “[That] is likely due to consumers cutting back as the financial crisis intensified in September,” Weinswig said.

Meanwhile, mass merchants, department stores and office supply retailers experience the largest declines in traffic of any channel for the quarterly period.

And in the same month retailers began sending out Christmas-oriented point-of-purchase material, retailers were already getting a taste of what might be this holiday season—retail sales were down 1.2 percent year-over-year in September, according to the Department of Commerce, reflecting record lows in consumer confidence. “U.S. consumers are paring back spending in discretionary categories like apparel, technology, home improvement, out-of-home entertainment and vacations more than their global peers, as shown by Nielsen’s October 2008 Global Consumer Confidence Survey,” Weinswig said. “In addition, the number of U.S. consumers who reported that they had no cash to spare after covering essential living expenses was twice the global average.”

Private label sales are growing in both dollars and units, according to Nielsen data measuring the 52 weeks ended Sept. 6, as cited by Weinswig. Dollar sales of branded products grew 2.5 percent over the same period, but unit sales declined 2.4 percent. In addition, private label sales grew 3.1 percent during the last four weeks of the period.

“We believe that more consumers, including higher-income consumers, are trading down to private label to save money. Improved product quality, better packaging, and increased in-store marketing have made private label products more appealing, in our view,” Weinswig said.

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CompUSA, TigerDirect team to benefit breast cancer research on Black Friday

BY Jenna Duncan

MIAMI The Friday after Thanksgiving holiday, known as “Black Friday” because it is traditionally the busiest holiday shopping day of the year, is getting made over by CompUSA and TigerDirect to be “Pink Friday” this year. Pink Friday falls on Nov. 28 and the retailers said that they anticipate raising $250,000 or more in Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation for breast cancer research by collecting donations and contributing part of their total sales from the day.

During a live Webcast from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Pink Friday on www.CompUSA.com and www.TigerDirect.com, many items will be sold at half price with 100 percent of their profits going to Komen for the Cure.

“Pink Friday is all about giving back to the community,” said Gilbert Fiorentino, chief executive of Systemax Inc. Technology Products, the parent company of CompUSA and TigerDirect. “Between our donation and the opportunity for our customers to help assist us in this cause, we hope to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the charity and beat the $200,000 we raised last year.”

Customers are invited to donate $1, $5, $10 or $20 to Komen for the Cure in-store in addition to their Pink Friday purchase items.

Pink Friday events will also be taking place at CompUSA’s retail locations in markets including El Paso, Texas; Miami, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Raleigh, N.C.

More information on Pink Friday can be found at www.pinkfriday.org.

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