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ShopperTrak eyes improvement in retail foot traffic over coming months

BY Jason Owen

CHICAGO — Shopper activity will continue to improve intermittently through the first half of 2013, according to ShopperTrak, the world’s largest counter of retail foot traffic.

ShopperTrak estimates during the first quarter of 2013, national retail sales will increase 3.2% and retail foot traffic will increase 3.5%, when compared to the same period last year. The company estimates during the second quarter of 2013, national retail sales will increase 2.9%, though foot traffic will remain flat with a 0% change, when compared to the same period in 2012.

"This year is starting strong," said ShopperTrak Founder Bill Martin. "Indeed, the first quarter will not only include the usual sales events for Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day, but also grab Easter sales as the holiday falls earlier in the calendar this year. This activity will cause a spike in the first quarter and a lull in the second, for which retailers need to prepare."

Retailers pushed to extend the high levels of holiday season shopping activity into the first quarter of the year. The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday fell on Jan. 21, several days later than it has been the past few years. This gave retailers extra time to promote their post-holiday sales. Many of them seized the opportunity and were able to drive elevated levels of retail sales and foot traffic.

This surge in shopper activity calmed in late January. The shopping lull between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Valentine’s Day generally is brief because consumers soon begin to shop for their valentines. ShopperTrak forecasts that winter storm Nemo will negatively impact retail traffic and sales for this Valentine’s Day.

"Winter Storm Nemo pounded the Northeast during the final weekend before the holiday, impeding foot traffic to stores," said Martin. "Traffic could be impacted further based on how long the region requires to recover. However, many shoppers will head back to stores the following weekend for Presidents Day sales."

ShopperTrak forecasts that retail sales and foot traffic will continue to steadily increase through Easter, which falls on March 31 this year. The early date places the holiday and its shopper activity within the first quarter, sapping sales and traffic from April and the second quarter.

"Easter generally drives a flurry of shopping for spring clothes, shoes and gifts," said Martin. "While the holiday’s traffic and sales usually boost the second quarter, this year Easter activity will be attributed to March. After planning their marketing and operations against the first quarter holidays, retailers will need to carefully manage and optimize their operations to the shopper activity throughout the second quarter."


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Brookshire joins EPA environmental initiative

BY Alaric DeArment

TYLER, Texas — Brookshire Grocery Co. has joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill partnership, the supermarket chain said.

BGC said that by joining the initiative, it will work toward sustainability and protecting consumers’ health and the environment. According to the EPA, a typical supermarket leaks about 1,000 pounds of refrigerant gas into the atmosphere each year, and BGC said it would work to reduce those emissions.

"We continue to explore ways to positively impact the environment," BGC president and CEO Rick Rayford said. "This pledge demonstrates our ongoing effort to provide our customers with more than just a great place to shop. We are committed to the safety of our communities and our environment and believe this partnership will help us exceed standard business practices and be responsible environmental stewards."

The GreenChill partnership works with supermarkets to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their effects on the ozone layer and environment.

"This partnership will help us reduce harmful refrigerant emissions, protect the ozone layer, cut costs for supermarkets and consumers and protect our health and the environment," EPA GreenChill manager Keilly Witman said.

 

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Kraft’s new Crystal Light Liquid packs taste without the calories

BY Jason Owen

GLENVIEW, Ill. — Kraft Foods announced this week a new addition to its Crystal Light line of low-calorie drink mixes, Crystal Light Liquid. Crystal Light Liquid is sweetened with a blend of non-nutritive sweeteners and is caffeine-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and has zero calories.

"We’ve found that women are tired of choosing between taste or calories," said Adam Butler, senior brand manager for Crystal Light. "With Crystal Light Liquid, our new zero-calorie drink option, women can finally have it all — all of the flavor, but without the calories."

 

Crystal Light Liquid is available in six flavors: strawberry lemonade, blueberry-raspberry, iced tea, mango-passionfruit, peach bellini, and pomtini.

They are available in resealable, 24-serving bottles in mass market and grocery stores nationwide.


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