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Information Resources, Inc launches IRI Market Pulse research report

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Information Resources, Inc. on Wednesday launched IRI Market Pulse report, which provides results of rapid, topical research on an ongoing basis.

IRI’s first Market Pulse speaks to the recent decline in gas and energy prices—shoppers are placing those saved dollars and putting them back into the bank. According to the Market Pulse survey, 87 percent of respondents are continuing to try to save gas despite falling prices; 85 percent are continuing to be “very cautious in their spending; and 74 percent believe the current falling gas prices are only temporary.

Consumers remain extremely negative about the U.S. economy as a whole—just 19 percent of respondents expect the economy to improve in the next six months.  These shoppers continue to pursue a wide range of money-saving strategies, such as eating out less, cooking in more, and trying to make basic goods, such as cleaning supplies and shampoos, last longer.

“It is clear that decreasing gas and energy prices will have little or no impact on shopper behavior over the holidays,” stated Thom Blischok, president of IRI consulting and innovation. “Conditioned by spiking energy and commodity prices, the severe problems in U.S. financial markets and the fall into recession, shoppers are cutting back severely.”

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Supervalu taps Johnson for role of VP of investor relations

BY Antoinette Alexander

MINNEAPOLIS Supervalu has named Robert Johnson vice president of investor relations, effective Jan. 5.

Johnson succeeds David Oliver, who has served in the vice president of investor relations role on an interim basis since earlier this year. Oliver will continue to serve in a leadership role within the company?s finance department.

In his new role, Johnson will report to Pam Knous, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Prior to joining Supervalu, Johnson spent 32 years with JC Penney Corp. serving in a number of capacities within the company?s finance function, including accounting, internal audit, financial reporting and investor relations. In his recent role as vice president of investor relations, he led investor communications through key company events including the company’s turnaround process and the divestiture of Eckerd.

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Fewer teens are smoking than in 90s, report says

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Smoking rates among teenagers declined in 2008 to their lowest level since the early 1990s, according to a survey.

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that 12.6 percent of high school students this year reported smoking a cigarette in the last month; last year, it was 13.6 percent. The results were based on a national annual survey of 45,000 students in the eighth, 10th and 12th grades at 400 schools. The survey asks students if they have smoked within the last 30 days.

The survey also found that teenagers’ attitudes toward smoking have turned sharply negative, with more than 80 percent expressing disapproval.

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