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Q3 off to good start at Target

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS — A 4.2% increase in August same-store sales at Target was at the high end of the company’s forecast range.

The solid showing during August was noteworthy because it came on top of a prior-year increase of 4.1% and was attributable primarily to an increase in average transaction size. According to Target, about three-fourths of the increase was due to growth in ticket with increase shopper traffic accounting for the remainder of the comp increase.

"Sales were stronger in the second half of the month, as guests responded to Target’s broad assortment and compelling value for their back-to-school and back-to-college shopping," said Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

As in prior months, comps were strongest in food which experienced a high single-digit increase, and in health and beauty, which experienced a mid single-digit increase. August comparable-store sales in apparel increased in line with the company average while the home and hardlines areas experienced a low single-digit increase.

The company said sales strength was broad-based with every region of the country reporting an increase and described its month end inventories as being in very good condition.

The modestly better than expected sales performance during August wasn’t enough to cause the company to elevate expectations for September. Comps for the coming month are forecast to increase in the low single digits.

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Nielsen: U.S. grocery shoppers go online to save money

BY Marianne Wilson

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Consumers focus on savings when they log in to their digital devices to shop for groceries, according to a new study from Nielsen. The top weekly U.S. activities related to grocery shopping on a connected device, ranging from a mobile phone to tablet, included reading online grocery circulars (62%), looking for coupons online (55%) and browsing a manufacturer’s website for a grocery category (55%).

The "Nielsen Global Survey of Digital’s Influence on Grocery Shopping" also found top monthly U.S. activities included looking for deals and coupons (both at 43%), followed by price checking/consumer reviews (37%). The highest ranked daily activities were using digital shopping lists (39%) and looking for deals online (31%).

"Connected consumers and their devices are providing consumer packaged goods makers and retailers with options to differentiate their brands and stay relevant," Nielsen SVP consumer and shopper insights Todd Hale said. "Those who can keep up with what matters most to digital shoppers will be well positioned for the short and long term."

When asked which factors influenced their grocery purchase decisions compared with a year ago, U.S. respondents identified rising food prices (49%), health factors such as heart/cholesterol/weight (28%) and increased transportation costs (28%) as having a “major impact” on their decisions. Food labeling (25%) and retailer loyalty programs (24%) rounded out the top five U.S. “major impact” categories.

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Symphony Health Solutions appoints senior executives, new board member

BY Allison Cerra

HORSHAM, Pa. — Symphony Health Solutions has expanded its senior leadership team.

The company — which is owned by Palo Alto, Calif.-based strategic equity firm Symphony Technology Group — said former SunGuard Higher Education CFO John Milana has been appointed CFO of the company;  Jonathan Rosan, who had served as general counsel for interactive marketing agency Rosetta, has been named general counsel; and software engineering veteran Nigel Pratt has been named chief technology officer.

In addition to the senior leadership expansion, the company also announced that Hari Mahadevan has been appointed to the Symphony Health Solutions’ board in an active advisory role. Prior to this new role, Mahadevan served as executive officer with Rosetta.

"Our mission at Symphony Health Solutions is to be a strategic partner to our clients in the transformation of the health information and analytics industry," Symphony Technology Group CEO Romesh Wadhwani said. "The addition of John, Nigel, Jon and Hari helps us take a strong step forward to improve the operational and customer centricity of our key finance, legal, technology and board leaders, and adds strong talent for our investment in innovation. They are all strong team players with a great record of success in previous roles, and they will help us drive our strategy of growth through innovation, and will help the organization to deliver on its promise. We feel very positive about the future of our business, and are thrilled to have this caliber of talent share our vision for success."


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