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Giant Eagle unveils first two compressed natural gas fueling stations

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — Giant Eagle on Thursday unveiled its first two compressed natural gas fueling stations in the Pittsburgh area at its Beechnut Drive retail support and distribution center.

"We are dedicated to doing business in the most sustainable manner possible across all of our business operations," stated Giant Eagle EVP and COO John Lucot. "Our efforts have been greatly advanced with the help of others, and we give thanks to the local and state officials here today, as well as to our allies at Volvo Trucks and EQT who partnered with us to make these facilities possible."

Lucot added, "This project delivers improved air quality for the region through emissions reductions, reduces dependence on traditional fuels, and serves as a regional catalyst for southwestern Pennsylvania in adopting and understanding alternative fuels and clean transportation technology."

According to data from the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles, CNG typically is priced one-third below the cost of gasoline and diesel. In addition to cost savings, CNG reduces particulate matter emissions by 94%, carbon monoxide emissions by 75%, nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 49% and carbon dioxide emissions by 25%.

"Until now, there have been no viable alternative fuel options for heavy-duty delivery trucks with the necessary level of power required to navigate the region’s hilly and mountainous terrain," noted Giant Eagle VP logistics Bill Parry. "To continue evolving our environmentally friendly fleet, Giant Eagle worked closely with Volvo to design the 10 new CNG vehicles here today with an 8.9-liter Cummins engine as the first of their kind in the commercial transportation industry."

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RILA members arrive in Joplin, Mo., to help cleanup efforts

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. — Members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association on Wednesday arrived in Joplin, Mo., to help clean up the Midwest city that was hard-hit in May by a category F-5 tornado.

“In the weeks after the tornado, we heard first-hand from our members who operate in the Joplin area about the enormity of this disaster and its devastating effect on their employees and the thousands of customers they serve,” the association posted in a July 11 blog. “We heard stories of heroic actions taken by retail associates during the storm, as well as stories of great generosity from retailers in the immediate aftermath. Our thoughts quickly turned to how we too could help.”

Toward that end, RILA and its members joined with Operation Blessing to host a large-scale cleanup. More than 250 volunteers from America’s leading retailers are on hand in Joplin through Friday to help with the cleanup and rebuilding efforts already under way.

Participants include members of the RILA Workplace Safety Committee and Disaster Recovery and Preparedness Committee, and local field-level associates from among RILA’s retail members, including Dollar General, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Kmart, Sears, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.

“We at RILA want to express our unending support as companies and communities move forward in the aftermath of this devastating national disaster,” RILA posted. “RILA and our members will continue to be there to lend our assistance as relief efforts move ahead.”

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June sales beat expectations

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — Warm weather, lower gas costs and strong Father’s Day promotions apparently put consumers in a spending mood in June, boosting retail sales for the 12th consecutive month and surpassing many analysts’ expectations, according to the National Retail Federation.

Retail industry sales — which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants — in June increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted from May, and 5.5% unadjusted year-over-year, according to NRF.

"A solid year of growth in sales provides further evidence that retailers continue to lead the charge in the economic recovery," stated NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. "While spending continues to surpass expectations, sustained growth in the retail sector depends on a strong labor market."

"With the summer season well under way, retailers are hoping this momentum continues through the back-to-school season," added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. "Knowing that shoppers remain concerned about the economy, companies have already begun offering aggressive promotions to entice shoppers."

June retail sales released on Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department showed total retail sales — which include such nongeneral merchandise categories as autos, gas stations and restaurants — increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 8.4% unadjusted year-over-year.

 Specific sales results include:

  • Health and personal care stores sales decreased 0.2% seasonally adjusted over May, but increased 3.9% unadjusted year-over-year;

  • The onset of summer helped boost sales of apparel and garden equipment and supplies. Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.7% seasonally adjusted over May, and 7.6% unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at building material and garden equipment stores increased 1.3% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 8.5% unadjusted over last year;

  •  Sales at electronic and appliance stores decreased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 2.3% unadjusted from last year; and

  • Home furnishings stores sales decreased 0.8% seasonally adjusted over May, and increased 0.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

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