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Fred’s Super Dollar posts $191.2 million in June sales, up 2%

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred's Super Dollar on Thursday reported sales of $191.2 million, an increase of 2%, for the five-week month of June, which ended July 5. 
 
Comparable-store sales for the month decreased 0.6% compared with a 4.5% increase in the same period last year. 
 
"Comparable-store sales declined slightly for June, with the fourth week of the month being unusually soft as we were unable to place our new ad program for that week," stated Bruce Efird, Fred's CEO. "For the weeks that the new ad program were in effect, sales and customer traffic patterns improved noticeably. Our pharmacy department continued to experience strong growth in June, highlighted by ongoing increases in both comparable scripts and sales. Additionally, sales for EIRIS Health Services, our specialty pharmacy division, accelerated and exceeded plan," he said. 
 
"Looking forward, July will be the first month that all the elements of our new marketing plan come together, including in-store marketing initiatives that promote the diverse product mix offered by our stores, together with our new, fully implanted ad program," Efird continued. "We also will begin an aggressive clearance program in July to clear unproductive SKUs and exit or reduce product categories that do not align with our convenience center model." 
 
Fred's total sales for the first five months of fiscal 2014 were $840.9 million, approximately flat compared with $841.1 million for the same period last year. On a comparable-store basis, year-to-date sales decreased 1.3% versus flat sales for the year-earlier period. 
 
 
 
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From cyber to cement, Birchbox opens first store in NYC

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Beauty subscription company Birchbox has announced the opening of its first brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan, which leverages the insights and feedback gathered since the company’s launch in 2010 from its more than 800,000 active subscribers.

(Click here to view the slideshow.)

“Our goal with Birchbox has always been to make it easy, efficient and fun for people to discover new brands and products fit for their lifestyle,” stated Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and co-CEO of Birchbox. “We have learned so much about how we can drive customers to change their behavior online, and we see an opportunity to extend into offline retail to evolve with our customers' needs.”

The Birchbox store, which opens it doors to shoppers on Friday at 433 West Broadway in New York City, includes:
— Curated product assortment featuring 2,000 products from 250 brands including Smashbox, Caudalie, Jouer, Supergoop!, Cynthia Rowley, Baxter of California, Lab Series, and Art of Shaving. Testers of every product in the store will be available.
— A vertical merchandising strategy that allows consumers to shop by category instead of by brand. For example, a shopper could come in looking for a red lipstick and compare different types in the makeup section of the store.
— A dedicated B.Y.O.B. – Build Your Own Birchbox – section where shoppers can hand-pick five sample size products of their choice for $15.
— Editorial content, videos and product reviews throughout the shop to help customers learn and self-navigate.
— A “Try Bar” where customers can experiment with different beauty trends and find the products that are right for them.
— Beauty services available by appointment (and for walk-ins when available) for hair, nails and makeup.
— Group classes will be offered on a variety of topics. Classes are designed to appeal to all types of beauty consumers and allow them to sample, try and learn about the products. Classes will be free for Birchbox subscribers and $30 for non-subscribers.

Personalization through technology and content will be at the core of the seamless in-store shopping experience. With touchscreens throughout the store, customers will be able to answer a few questions about themselves to source product recommendations, along with customer reviews and video demonstrations to assist consumers in their product selection.

 

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The Office of National Drug Control Policy releases the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy

BY Michael Johnsen

ROANOKE, Va. — The Office of National Drug Control Policy earlier this week released the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, the Obama Administration’s primary blueprint for drug policy in the United States.
 
The strategy extends the administration’s record of drug policy reform by outlining a series of actions that will continue to expand health interventions and “smart on crime” alternatives proven to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. The strategy also notes significant increases in heroin and prescription drug abuse as key challenges and highlights a series of actions currently underway to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic in the United States.
 
The 2014 strategy builds upon a series of actions focused on improving education for patients and healthcare providers, supporting the  expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, developing more convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home and reducing the prevalence of pill mills and diversion through targeted enforcement efforts. 
 
“We commend the ONDCP for taking a balanced, comprehensive approach to reducing the nation’s prescription drug abuse problem through its 2014 National Drug Control Strategy," stated John Gray, CEO of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association. "Like ONDCP, HDMA believes that the solution to this issue requires a multifaceted strategy, one in which law enforcement is still vital, but combined with adequate monitoring, treatment and education efforts to reduce addiction."     

ONCDP's science-based strategy is founded on the latest research regarding the nature of substance use in America. Specifically, the Strategy is based on the scientific consensus that addiction is a disease of the brain that can be prevented, treated and from which people can recover, not a moral failure on the part of the individual. As a result, the 2014 Strategy directs Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare workers to intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access to drug treatment for those who need it, and implement criminal justice reforms designed to break the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration while protecting public safety.  The release of the administration’s strategy comes at a time of growing public support for more balanced approaches to drug policy. According to a Pew Research Poll released in April, 67% of Americans support providing treatment for individual drug users compared to 26% who favored prosecution. 
 
“Public opinion on drug policy is finally catching up to what the science has demonstrated for quite some time,” stated Michael Botticelli, acting director ONDCP. “We cannot incarcerate addiction out of people. While law enforcement should always play a vital role in protecting communities from violent drug-related crime, at the end of the day we must acknowledge that public health and criminal justice initiatives must to work together to address this complex challenge in a smarter way. This issue touches every family and every community in one way or another. There are millions of Americans — including myself — who are in successful long-term recovery from a substance use disorder. This policy supports each and every one of us and demonstrates a real commitment to a smarter, more humane approach to drug policy in the 21st century.”
 
In addition to outlining actions to expand public health and safety programs, the strategy also specifically addresses the threat of opioids, which include heroin and prescription painkillers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths, driven by prescription painkillers, now surpass homicides and traffic crashes in the number of injury deaths in America. In 2010, approximately 100 Americans died from overdose every day. To address this challenge, the strategy calls for an enhanced focus on overdose prevention and intervention to include increasing access to the emergency overdose reversal drug naloxone; expanded efforts to educate communities on how to intervene, prevent loss of life, and direct those in need to treatment; and strengthened efforts with interagency and international partners to dismantle criminal organizations involved in heroin trafficking. The Strategy also calls for improved data collection to improve the ability of Federal, state, and local officials to identify and respond to emerging threats.
 
In support of this strategy, the president has requested $25.5 billion in fiscal year 2015. Federal funding for public health programs that address substance use has increased every year, and the portion of the Nation’s drug budget spent on drug treatment and prevention efforts (43%) has grown to its highest level in over 12 years. Moreover, the $10.9 billion request for treatment and prevention is now nearly 20% higher than the $9.2 billion requested for Federally-funded domestic drug law enforcement and incarceration. The FY 2015 budget request also includes $3.9 billion for interdiction, and $1.4 billion for international programs.
 
To read the strategy and learn more about the Administration plan, visit: WH.gov/drugpolicyreform
 
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