Quoted – 7 ways to score discounted gift cards

Assortment of gift cards
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According to the National Retail Federation, restaurant cards are one of the most popular gift card choices — coming in second only to department stores. Consumers can save big on these cards by visiting websites such as Restaurant.com that offer them for prices lower than face value.

Buyers can browse by location, cuisine and average entree price. The choices vary widely, from local mom-and-pops to major chains. There are also multiple discount levels, with purchase prices that represent a 50 percent savings or more.

While it’s possible to score some good deals with Restaurant.com, be sure to read the fine print, says Scott Testa, a retail consultant and assistant professor of business administration at Cabrini College near Philadelphia.

Read more: 7 ways to score discounted gift cards http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/7-ways-to-score-discounted-gift-cards-1.aspx#ixzz15YG1YOoN

 

 

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/7-ways-to-score-discounted-gift-cards-3.aspx

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Quoted – Sears/Kmart offers to rent Valley stores

This is a row of Cash Registers at a Target st...
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n an unusual move, the owner of Sears and Kmart is publicly seeking out additional businesses to operate in its stores, including several Valley locations.

Sears Holdings Corp. launched a website earlier this year detailing information about store locations available to rent — in both closed stores and ones still open.

Five Valley stores show up on http://www.shcrealty.com as places the company would welcome new businesses operating within the existing stores. They include Kmart stores in Clovis, Coalinga and Kingsburg, and Sears stores and their auto centers in Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis and Manchester Center in Fresno.

“Traditionally when retailers look to do things like this, they usually do it quietly,” said Scott Testa, a professor who follows the retail business at Cabrini College in Philadelphia. “The idea that they would do this in a public forum … is in some ways very unique.”

New tenants could locate within a current store — either a cart or a shop — or in another empty space in a Sears Holdings-owned shopping center.

“It’s basically letting people know that in these locations we have some extra space,” said Sears Holdings spokeswoman Kim Freely. “If the partnership makes sense, we could make some additional retail space available for other vendors.”

Freely used the example of Edwin Watts Golf Shops, which is opening 12 shops inside Sears stores around the country.

It’s not unusual for stores to open within larger stores — think Starbucks inside Target or Sephora’s recent appearance inside J.C. Penney stores.

Although not typical, Sears’ real-estate website is just another form of marketing, said Walter Smith, senior vice president of Grubb & Ellis/ Pearson Commercial realty firm in Fresno.

“They’re just helping to make sure they get as much exposure as possible,” he said.

Sears owns many of the properties its stores are in, Smith said.

When billionaire investor and Kmart chairman Edward Lampert bought Sears and merged the two companies in 2005, Wall Street analysts expected the new company to make money selling valuable locations.

The real estate crash prevented that, however, and Sears Holdings was stuck with 3,900 full-line and specialty stores. The company closed 60 underperforming stores in 2009, but remains a company “that is struggling to find its way,” competing against heavy hitters like Target and Walmart, Testa said.

Testa said the website could be a way for the company to find out if it can make more money leasing to another retailer instead of operating a Sears or Kmart, but Freely from Sears Holdings said that is not the intent.

Smith and representatives from Sierra Vista and Sears Holdings all said no deals for new stores inside Sears or Kmart stores in the Valley had been finalized.

But, said Smith, “it could be happening in our market, and that’s OK.”

http://www.tradingmarkets.com/news/stock-alert/kmrt_shld_sears/kmart-offers-to-rent-valley-stores-980973.html

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Quoted – National initial jobless claims fall for second straight week; Illinois’ claims rise

DAVIE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Hundreds of people s...
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The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment benefits last week fell 10,000 from the week prior, its second straight week of decline, as the economy continues its flirtation with expansion.  Initial jobless claims for Illinois increased, however, as the state’s employment picture remained dreary.

The advanced seasonally adjusted amount of initial jobless claims was 453,000 for the week ended May 29, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, down 10,000 from the previous week’s revised figure. That was slightly lower than economists surveyed by Bloomberg LP were expecting.

“This is going to be a long-term trend,” stressed Scott Testa, professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia.  Testa was hesitant to draw positive conclusions from this week’s report, suggesting employers are unlikely to boost their hiring until 2011.  “Very little hiring gets done during the summer,” he said, though he expects a hiring “uptick” in January and February.

The residential real estate market is still hurting, Testa said, and housing “touches a lot of points in the economy,” since it is indicative of consumer confidence and spending.

Yet, the retail industry is showing some positive signs, Testa said.  “The real litmus test is going to be the holiday season shopping,” he said.

Quarterly data on jobless claims is a stronger indication of the employment outlook, Testa asserted, because weekly numbers are constantly being revised.

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=166271

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Quoted – A good fit in the market is key for clothes sellers

Closeup of a copper rivet on blue jeans.
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What odds for survival would you have given the men’s store Mortar when it opened in March?

The store sells denim jeans from $189 to $330. Shirts are $100 to $220. The designer boutique is not on Post Oak Boulevard — it is in Montrose. And while the economy is picking up, the apparel retail industry is far from booming.

But for co-owners Iris Siff and Sacha Nelson, it’s a fine time to be in retail. They have already made plans to move their less than 3-month-old store at 1844 Westheimer to a nearby space almost three times the size.

If their initial solid business is an indication, the owners found a winning formula by focusing on upscale contemporary casual attire — they don’t sell suits — for men in their 30s and 40s while offering the same level of service one finds at a high-end store selling business clothes. Most of their lines are exclusives from emerging designers.

For a concept like Mortar to work, it does not have to reach large numbers of men, but it does need to convince its targeted shopper that what it offers is unique and relevant to his lifestyle, said Scott Testa, professor of business at Cabrini College near Philadelphia.

“If you can identify a really specific segment of the market and understand it and gain traction through word of mouth, you can explode,” Testa said. “As the saying goes, ‘There’s riches in niches.’”

For such businesses “there’s less price pressure because they’re looked upon as having things that are unique,” he said.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7027714.html

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Quoted – Sales rise, retailers optimistic – The Chronicle

Sales rise, retailers optimistic

By LOU WILIN

Retailers report stronger Black Friday sales this year than last year and they are cautiously optimistic about the rest of the Christmas season.

“So far, so good,” said Debbi Baker, store manager of Christopher & Banks, a women’s clothing store at Findlay Village Mall. “My Black Friday was better (than last year’s).”

David Lazar, store manager of Elder-Beerman at the mall, was cheerier.

“We are happy. We are very, very happy,” with Elder-Beerman’s sales numbers last weekend, he said.

National and regional research companies reported slight sales increases last weekend from a year ago.

In Ottawa, Walmart Manager Shane Sidle is patient.

“Things have been steady, steady with last year,” he said. Sales will probably strengthen in the 10 days before Christmas, Sidle said.

“The last couple of years, that is how it has been,” he said.

The recession has lowered retailers’ sales expectations, and rightly so.

“Consumers are very leery about spending money over the holidays,” said Scott Testa, business administration professor at Cabrini College, Radnor, Pa.

Retailers are coping by spreading out the shopping season. Christopher & Banks at the mall got its Christmas season inventory in early November, three weeks earlier than usual, said Baker, the manager. She even got resort wear, outfits women will wear on trips in the next season. Baker does not usually see those until mid-December.

“They kind of bulked me up, and whatever I have got, it has to go,” she said.

In Fostoria, Kmart Assistant Manager Bridget Weslow said the store’s layaway policy “is what is keeping people coming in.”

Testa said people this year are seeking more practical gifts, like tires, tools and car wax instead of, say, jewelry.

But flat screen TVs and video game systems are still hot items, Sidle said.

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