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Strong holiday sales and specialty pharmacy fuel Fred’s 10% December growth

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Fred's Super Dollar on Thursday reported a total sales lift of 10% for December to $231.9 million. Comparable store sales for the month rose 2.4% compared with a decline of 1.4% in the year-earlier period. 
 
"We are pleased to report solid sales results for December, which reflected the success of our merchandising programs designed for the holiday season and, in the case of total sales, recent growth in our specialty pharmacy department," stated Jerry Shore, Fred's CEO. "December comparable store sales were driven by strong general merchandise department sales, with increases in holiday gift-giving categories as well as continued balance in our sales mix across all categories. On the other hand, comparable sales for our retail pharmacy department were negatively affected in December by a very low incidence of cold and flu activity, which reduced December overall comparable store sales by approximately 125 basis points."
 
Fred's total sales for the first 11 months of 2015 increased 9% to $2 billion as compared to the same period last year.
 
Fred's operates 659 discount general merchandise stores and three specialty pharmacy-only locations in 15 states in the southeastern United States. Included in the store count are 18 franchised locations. Also, there are 376 full-service pharmacy departments located within the company's stores. 
 
 
 
 
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Former Family Dollar chief steps away from new Dollar Tree

BY Michael Johnsen

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Dollar Tree on Friday announced that Howard Levine has completed his role in the integration of Family Dollar and Dollar Tree, and is stepping down as an officer of the company effective Jan. 15, 2016. 
 
"It was very important to me for Howard to remain with our company and to contribute to the combination of our two large organizations," stated Bob Sasser, Dollar Tree CEO. "He has been an integral leader at Family Dollar for more than two decades, and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. I would like to commend Howard for his many years of service and leadership at Family Dollar, and to thank him for his partnership during our integration. Howard has completed everything I have asked of him during this process, and has proven to be a valuable resource to both Gary Philbin and me." 
 
"It has been an honor to serve Family Dollar over the past 25 years," Levine said. "I would like to share my gratitude to many thousands of current and former Family Dollar team members that have helped build Family Dollar into the business it is today, delivering terrific values to millions of customers on a daily basis," he said. "I have been impressed by Dollar Tree's commitment to discipline and execution in running a value retail business."
 
On July 6, 2015, Dollar Tree completed its acquisition of more than 8,200 Family Dollar stores across 46 states. The company had previously announced that Levine would remain with the company for a period of time to assist with the integration, reporting to, and supporting, Sasser. 
 
Gary Philbin, who was named Family Dollar's president and COO in July 2015, will continue leading Family Dollar and will continue reporting to Sasser. 
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Study: Mobile commerce paradigm shifts

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK — Consumers are changing the way they browse and shop for goods using mobile devices.
 
According to the State of Retailing Online 2016 study from Forrester Research, Shop.org and Bizrate Insights, growing use of smartphones by consumers, a shift in investments by technology companies and continued optimization strategies from retailers has landed smartphones on top as a driver of mobile sales and traffic for retail companies.
 
Specifically, retailers surveyed report smartphone sales accounted for 17% of their total online sales in 2015, edging ahead of the 14% generated via tablets. Overall, retailers said sales from smartphone devices grew 53% from the previous year, while sales from tablet devices grew 32%
 
In addition, smartphones represented 29% of mobile retail traffic, roughly double the 15% share held by tablets.
 
However, despite strong growth in both smartphone and tablet sales, retailers continue to keep their mobile investments at a more moderate level. Thirty percent of those surveyed say they invested less than $10,000 on smartphone platforms in 2015, and 17% kept budgets between $10,000 and $50,000.
 
When it comes to tablets, the investments are even smaller. Nearly four in 10 (37%) said they made no additional investment in their tablet offerings in 2015, compared to 18% who left smartphones out of their investment plans for 2015. Eleven percent of retailers surveyed said they put $10,000 to $50,000 into tablet investments during 2015.
 
That said, the report did find that more mobile investment is on the horizon for retailers, especially in smartphones. The survey found that one-third of retailers surveyed plan to grow their smartphone investments more than 20% in 2016, and another 34% will grow their investments between 1 and 20%. A smaller amount (22%) will grow their tablet investment more than 20% in 2016.
 
Tablets are not necessarily losing all their importance to the omnichannel retail experience. Findings suggest they may ultimately find a bigger purpose in stores, helping store associates provide greater service to customers.
 
The survey found that of the 36% of retailers who use mobile devices in stores, one-quarter of those use tablets. Two in five (44%) say their associates use tablets to show additional products not available in stores and four in 10 use the devices to send e-receipts. Another 23% use them to check inventory in warehouses and 21% use tablets to check their actual in-store inventory.
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