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Retail Briefs

Family Dollar Sales up in Most Recent Quarter

Family Dollar Stores reported that sales for the first quarter ended Nov. 28 rose 3.9% to $1.82 billion from $1.75 billion in last year's first quarter. Comps increased 2.4%. Traffic increased, although transactions remained flat.

"Customers are responding well to the investments we are making to improve the shopping experience in our stores," said Howard Levine, chairman and ceo.

Family Dollar re-affirmed its earnings expectations of 45 cents to 50 cents per diluted share. The company will report full results early next month.

Big Lots Increases Q4, FY Guidance

Encouraged by its third quarter, Big Lots boosted its expectations for the fourth quarter and the year.

For the fourth quarter, the closeout chain anticipates comparable store sales to increase in a range of 1.5% to 2.5%. At this level, it expects its gross margin rate to be up compared to last year and expenses as a percent of sales to be down slightly.

The company also raised its earnings expectations for 4Q to be in a range of $1.09 to $1.14 per diluted share, compared to prior guidance of called for 99 cents to $1.04 per diluted share. Income from continuing operations in last year's fourth quarter was $1.00 per diluted share.

Big Lots also upped its forecast from continuing operations (on a non-GAAP basis) to be in a range of $2.15 to $2.20 per diluted share, compared to prior guidance of $1.92 to $2.02 per diluted share. Earnings per share in the previous fiscal year were $1.89.

ShopNBC Obtains Credit Facility from PNC Bank

ShopNBC has signed an agreement with PNC Bank for a senior secured revolving credit facility for up to $20 million. The three-year revolving line of credit will be used to finance working capital investments and other growth initiatives. At the time of closing, ShopNBC had no borrowings against the new facility.

Overstock.com Promotion Gives Away Hybrid Cars

Overstock.com will give away four 2010 Toyota Prius cars during the first four weeks of December in its "Hybrid Holiday" sweepstakes.

Shoppers who place an order on the site are automatically entered. Non-purchasers can enter once a day at www.Overstock.com/hybridholiday, through Twitter or via Facebook.

Sears, Kmart offer Deferred Card Payment

Sears and Kmart are ratcheting up their marketing to cash-strapped consumers. The retailers will allow customers who spend $99 or more on their Sears card in either store up to six months to pay off the transaction free of interest. The offer runs through Dec. 12 at Sears and Jan. 2 at Kmart.

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