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CVS/pharmacy makes enhancements to Web site, point-of-sales devices for visually impaired customers

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy, in collaboration with state and national organizations for the blind, is enhancing accessibility for the visually impaired to its Web site and store point-of-sales devices, the retailer announced on Thursday.

CVS/pharmacy is collaborating with the American Foundation for the Blind, American Council of the Blind and California Council of the Blind.

“We are pleased to collaborate with organizations committed to advocacy for the blind and introduce service enhancements in our stores and online that will increase access for our visually impaired customers,” stated Helena Foulkes, EVP and CMO of CVS Caremark.

To help customers who cannot read information on a flat screen point-of-sale devices, the stores have been equipped, at a minimum, with a tactile device at both the front check-out counter and the pharmacy counter to ensure that customers do not have to provide their PIN to a store employee. The company is also training its store associates to provide appropriate interaction with visually impaired customers regarding the use of the new tactile devices.

The company’s Web site, located at www.cvs.com, will be enhanced by the end of 2009 to ensure that people with a wide range of disabilities can access the site, including blind computer users who use a screen reader or magnification technology on their computers and those who rely on a keyboard instead of a mouse.

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CheapTweet seeks to bring sweet deals to retailers, consumers

BY Michael Johnsen

AUSTIN, Texas CheapTweet.com on Wednesday announced that it is working with retailers and consumers to help locate and deliver deals on Twitter for kids’ and juniors’ apparel and accessories, school supplies, and more.

CheapTweet is a “deals” search engine with an engaged community of shoppers who vote on deals and coupons from Twitter to form an easily searchable index. CheapTweet also works with retailers to maximize their presence on Twitter with its new CheapTweet Stores feature.

“On Twitter, you live and die by relevance,” stated Hayes Davis, CEO of Appozite, CheapTweet’s parent company. “Brands that are transparent and strategic about how they use social media to communicate with their customers will be the only brands that thrive on Twitter. CheapTweet aligns perfectly with this strategy, since our goal is to help our community save money by engaging with their favorite brands, unlike traditional advertising.”

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Duane Reade reports increase in same-store sales

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK Duane Reade on Wednesday posted a same-store sales increase of 1.7% as it narrowed its loss during the second quarter.

“We are encouraged by our continued solid performance despite a weak external environment and are also pleased with our 6.3% increase in adjusted FIFO EBITDA. We made significant progress on the transformed store locations. The customer response to our improved offering and store design remains exceedingly positive with an expanding level of awareness of the improvements we have made. We are encouraged by this momentum and remain committed to better serving New Yorkers as we aim to become a destination brand,” stated John Lederer, chairman and CEO.

For the quarter ended June 27, the 253-store chain posted net retail store sales, which exclude pharmacy resale activity, of $450.3 million, up 4.2% compared with the year-ago period. Total net sales rose 6.1% to $479.1 million. Total same-store sales rose 1.7%, while front-end same-store sales increased 0.2%. Pharmacy same-store sales rose 3.6%.

Net loss for the quarter was $11.6 million, compared with $12.1 million in the year-ago period.

“As we look to the second half of the year, we remain cautiously optimistic about our prospects for continued growth in our business and remain in track with our expectations for adjusted FIFO EBITDA, even as we take into account continued external challenges. We are pleased with Oak Hill’s demonstrated confidence in our transformation plans and appreciate the firm’s ongoing support as our equity partner. Further, we anticipate that our debt refinancing will be completed shortly and look forward to the benefits of operating our business with added financial flexibility as we continue to identify and pragmatically realize our opportunities for long-term growth,” stated Lederer.

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