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Rite Aid promotes Valentine’s Day shopping for women

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is promoting itself as a Valentine’s Day shopping destination for women, the retail pharmacy chain said.

"History has shown us that, at more than a week to go, women are buying the majority of greeting cards, plush toys and other sentimental gifts that their families so look forward to receiving on Valentine’s Day," Rite Aid EVP merchandising Tony Montini said. "We’ve got everything on her list, making for a convenient and stress-free shopping experience, as well as a few surprises yet to come for the men who’ve yet to start their shopping."

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, women will spend an average of $88.74 for Valentine’s Day this year.

Rite Aid touted items like American Greetings cards, particularly the Premier line, and interactive Facebook greetings, video craft tutorials and a Twitter contest. For that contest, starting Feb. 11, people following the company’s Twitter handle @riteaid can retweet #ShareTheLove for a chance to win a mystery gift, the company said.

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Costco total sales, comps rise in January

BY Alaric DeArment

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp.’s sales increased 7% in January compared with January 2012, the club retailer said Thursday.

Costco reported sales for the five weeks that ended Sunday of $9.35 billion, compared with $8.74 billion a year ago. The month was one day shorter than last year due to the timing of the New Year holiday, which reduced total and same-store sales by about 2%, the company said. Comps in U.S. stores were up by 6%.

For the first 22 weeks of the fiscal year that ended Sunday, Costco reported sales of $43.77 billion, compared with $40.18 billion during the same period last year.

Costco’s stock was down by 11 cents in morning trading on the NASDAQ after opening at $101.77.

Though the increases in total sales and comps were about 1% above his estimates, analyst John Heinbockel of Guggenheim Securities rated the club retailer’s stock at "neutral," saying that January sales were "solid and generally in line with expectations" while expressing concern that Wall Street estimates of the company’s earnings per share in 2013 were too high.


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ComScore: Low awareness, retail access key barriers to widespread digital wallet adoption

BY Michael Johnsen

RESTON, Va. — ComScore on Monday released the Digital Wallet Road Map 2013, a study which measures consumer awareness, perceptions and intent to use current digital wallet offerings. The study found digital wallets, which store a virtual copy of the contents of a consumer’s physical wallet to facilitate online or offline retail transactions, only had awareness among 51% of U.S. consumers for wallets other than PayPal.

"Digital wallets represent an innovative technology that has not yet reached critical mass among consumers due to a variety of factors, including low awareness and a muddied understanding of their benefits," stated Andrea Jacobs , ComScore payments practice leader. "Low awareness, understanding of benefits and availability among retailers are among the key barriers to adoption of digital wallets," she said. "While these impediments may seem like a steep hill to climb, we have seen this story play out before in the financial services industry. There was a time when consumers were reluctant to use ATMs for similar reasons."

The current digital wallet landscape remains fragmented among providers because of low consumer adoption outside of PayPal, with only 12% of consumers claiming to have used a digital wallet other than PayPal. However, study results indicated that the digital wallet market opportunity could eventually reach 1 in 2 consumers as consumers become more aware of the offerings and educated on their benefits.

One clear barrier to use of digital wallets is that the concept is often difficult to convey and prone to misinterpretation. Even after being asked to review the web sites of particular digital wallets, respondents across all wallet brands still scored an average of just 45% in terms of demonstrated level of understanding.

The study revealed that security remains a top consumer concern, but that a significant portion of consumers are not aware of security features inherent in digital wallet usage. While 93% of consumers would prefer to use a digital wallet that has to be unlocked before use, an average of just 57% of respondents across the brands studied realized – after having reviewed the digital wallet website – that this locking feature was available. Some digital wallet providers were more successful than others in communicating the availability of this feature, with 71% awareness among Lemon web site visitors versus 42% among LevelUp web site visitors. The ability to improve communications of features addressing consumer concerns, such as security, could remove an important hurdle to adoption, ComScore noted. 


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