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Walmart on a health mission

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON — Walmart joined First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington Thursday to unveil a comprehensive effort to provide its customers with healthier and more affordable food choices.

The program will involve five key elements, including:

  • Reformulating thousands of everyday packaged food items by 2015 by reducing sodium by 25% and added sugars by 10%, and by removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats. The company will work with suppliers to improve the nutritional quality of national food brands and its Great Value private-label brand in key product categories to complete the reformulations;

  • Making healthier choices more affordable, saving customers approximately $1 billion per year on fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of sourcing, pricing, and transportation and logistics initiatives that will drive unnecessary costs out of the supply chain. Walmart also will dramatically reduce or eliminate the price premium on key “better-for-you” items, such as reduced sodium, sugar or fat products;

  • Developing strong criteria for a simple front-of-package seal that will help consumers instantly identify truly healthier food options, such as whole-grain cereal, whole-wheat pasta or unsweetened canned fruit;

  • Providing solutions to address food deserts by building stores in underserved communities that are in need of fresh and affordable groceries; and

  • Increasing charitable support for nutrition programs that help educate consumers about healthier food solutions and choices.

"No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford," said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. "With more than 140 million customer visits each week, Walmart is uniquely positioned to make a difference by making food healthier and more affordable to everyone. We are committed to working with suppliers, government and nongovernmental organizations to provide solutions that help Americans eat healthier and live a better life."

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Many Valentine’s Day shoppers will opt to buy gifts online

BY Allison Cerra

RYE BROOK, N.Y. — A new quarterly index developed by eBillme found that 19% of shoppers will spend more on Valentine’s Day this year.

The index polled 1,200 consumers to measure projected online spending for the quarter and the influencing factors, eBillme said. Of the consumers polled, the index revealed, 32% of shoppers will purchase Valentine’s Day gifts online.

This quarter, respondents also were asked what they planned to purchase for Valentine’s Day. Findings included:

  • 60% planned to purchase something other than chocolates or flowers this year;

  • 10% planned to purchase a gift card for their Valentine; and

  • 47% of shoppers remained uncertain about what to purchase for Valentine’s Day, representing an opportunity for retailers to win these sales.

"There will be a lot of retail love this Valentine’s season," said Marwan Forzley, president and CEO of eBillme. "Retailers are coming off one of the best holiday shopping seasons in several years, and it looks like the spending will continue for another quarter. Our index paints a very optimistic picture for the e-commerce sector with increases in shoppers and sales projected for the quarter."

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Retailers name store expansion as top priority for 2011

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — Retailers are ready to expand again, and likely will do so as the economy picks up, according to a new survey conducted by the charitable arm of the National Retail Federation and KPMG.

In their ninth annual "Retail Horizons: Benchmarks for 2010, Forecasts for 2011" report, the NRF Foundation and KPMG found that among 318 of executives surveyed, 41% said they are looking to expand their domestic reach this year, up from one-quarter of retail executives surveyed last year. International expansion plans also are on the rise, with 25% of executives saying that they will broaden their businesses overseas, up from 21% last year.

Mark Larson, partner in charge of KPMG’s retail group, said “these findings dramatically demonstrate that retail expansion is back on the agenda. After several years of belt tightening, retailers are also ready to begin experimenting again with new brick-and-mortar concepts, hoping to appeal to shoppers interested in buying discretionary items once again,” Larson added. “They will, however, move ahead with cost discipline in mind.”

But while retailers will widen their scope, many also will focus on customer-centric initiatives — that is, honing in on customer service and such strategic measures as implementing mobile e-commerce or m-commerce, as well as such insight initiatives as customer loyalty programs. For this year, 75% of retailers said customer service will be a top priority (up from 56% on 2010), while 69% of retailers said they will focus on mobile e-commerce, or m-commerce, and 74% of retailers this year will increase their consumer insight and data-gathering initiatives.

To purchase the full "Retail Horizons: Benchmarks for 2010, Forecasts for 2011" report, click here.

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