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Rite Aid stores prepare for down-to-the-minute Halloween tidal wave

BY Jenna Duncan

CAMP HILL, Pa. As the days before the biggest U.S. dress-up holiday of the year squeak by, Rite Aid stores are stocking up on candy and decorations to prepare for the last-minute rush.

This is because reports from the National Retail Federation have stated despite the economic downturn, Halloween should turn out to be a robust sales holiday. In poll results released two weeks ago, 64.5 percent of adults polled by NRF said they would be celebrating celebrate Halloween in 2008, up from the 58.7 percent of adults who said they were celebrating in 2007.

Steve Moss, Rite Aid seasonal category manager said, “Since Halloween falls on a Friday, we are expecting customers will party this year. We think decorations especially will be a big hit.” Moss attributes the anticipated rush to tighter schedules and tighter grips on shoppers’ wallets.

Since the NRF predicted that Halloween customers will mostly likely spend $66.54 each, and 95.6 percent of said they will be buying candy, Rite Aid stores will be stocked to the gills with individually wrapped treats, the company said.

Rite Aid has said its stores have on shelf bags of assorted Dove chocolates for $4.39, 18-count bags of mixed Hershey’s chocolate bars and 25-count bag of Mars candies for $3.49 and packages of Lindt chocolates for $5.99. Some of the sugar candies available include 75-count of Airheads for $5.99, 25-count bags of Fun Dips for $7.99, and mini-bags of Mini Oreos, Rice Krispies Treats and Teddy Grahams for $3.59.

The stores have also stocked up Halloween decor and non-edible fun items, such as 20-packs of individual play-size containers of Play-Doh containers, 10 packs of Velvet Treats art projects with colored markers and bags of stretchy plastic spiders and spider rings.

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Diamond Foods reports quarterly dividend earnings of about $0.05 per share

BY Jenna Duncan

STOCKTON, Calif. Diamond Foods has announced approval by its board of directors of a $0.045 per common share payout.

The company has said that dividend funds will be payable Oct. 29, to stockholders on record as of Oct.16.

Diamond Foods recently completed a successful acquisition of Pop Secret brand microwave popcorn from General Mills, adding to its snack and nut empire. For more information on the company, visit. www.diamondfoods.com.

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Safeway announces its Q3 earnings for 2008

BY Jenna Duncan

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway today reported a net income total of $199.7 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, for 2008’s third quarter. This total compares to its net income for the same time 2007, $194.6 million, or $0.44 per diluted share.

Safeway said that its total sales were up by 3.9 percent, totaling $10.2 billion for the third quarter 2008, up from last year’s third quarter total of $9.8 billion. The company said that the rise was caused by profits from Safeway’s Lifestyle stores as well as an increase in fuel prices. Same-store sales were up 2.8 percent with fuel (0.5 percent not considering fuel).

“During the third quarter we took action to provide our customers with better everyday values,” chairman, chief executive officer and presiden, Steve Burd, said in a statement. “As we begin the fourth quarter, our sales momentum is building, with identical-store sales (excluding fuel) currently above 1.5 percent, and we are continuing to reduce costs. We continue to believe our diluted earnings per share for 2008 will be in the range of $2.25 to $2.35 for this 53-week year.”

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