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Retail Briefs

Pier 1 Retires More Debt

Pier 1 Imports said it has retired $69.5 million in principal of its convertible senior notes, issuing new convertible debt and paying $5 million in cash.

Earlier this year, a foreign subsidiary of Pier 1 acquired $79 million of its notes. The company said that in total, it has retired $148.4 million in existing notes this fiscal year for a weighted average price of 63 cents on the dollar.

“We are very pleased with what we have been able to accomplish with our convertible notes,” said Alex Smith, president and ceo. “Restructuring and reducing our convertible debt has allowed us to protect our liquidity position as we continue to work our way through this economic recession.

“We are entering the important fall and holiday selling seasons confident in our merchandise assortments and our stores,” Smith added. “Now that we have addressed the convertible notes, we are able to focus our attention on the day-to-day execution of our business.”

NRF: Consumers Still Skittish

Consumer spending at retail fell 5.0% last month compared to July 2008 and slipped 0.6% from June, the National Retail Federation reported last week. NRF's numbers exclude sale at gas stations, restaurants and automobile dealers.

The U.S. Commerce Department — whose retail sales do include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants — reported a 0.1% decline in sales from June to July, with a 7.9% drop in sales compared to July 2008

“Many families postponed the bulk of their back-to-school shopping this year, possibly waiting to take advantage of their state sales tax holiday or hoping for additional discounts,” said Rosalind Wells, NRF's chief economist. “Hopefully, retailers' aggressive promotions and reduced inventory levels will make for a better August and shield retailers from a disappointing season.”

Sales at general merchandise stores fell 0.8% adjusted from the previous month and declined 3.4% unadjusted over last year.

Sears launches Digital program for College-bound

In time for the back-to-campus season, Sears is launching a “Campus Ready” digital program aimed at helping college-bound students decorate their dorm rooms.

Sears said that its Campus Ready platform leverages its online capabilities through three integrated tools, all available on Facebook: Campus Gift Getter, Roommate Matchup, and the Dorm Room Designer. All of the tools are available at www.facebook.com/campusready or www.sears.com/campus.

Don Hamblen, chief marketing officer, explained that the program allows Sears to “connect directly” with students as they plan to go off to college.

“We began by developing the Campus Gift Getter and transitioned into our Roommate Matchup and Dorm Room Designer applications,” he said.

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