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  • Albertson's Inc., the second-ranked US supermarket chain, reports this morning that third quarter net income was $192 million, up from $176 million in the same period a year ago. Quarterly sales decreased to $8.66 billion from $9.04 billion, while same-store sales fell 2 percent. The earnings figures were in line with the most recent projections by Albertsons, which had diminished expectations because of the nation’s continued “economic weakness and heightened levels of competition.”

    Larry Johnston, Albertsons’ CEO, said the chain will both be more aggressive in its marketing and its goal of $750 million in cost cuts.

  • The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. reportedly will convert just 120 of its A&P stores to the Food Basics banner over the next year and a half, not the entire chain as had been reported in the German media. Whether that number grows over the long term will be dependent on how the first 120 do.

  • reports this morning that Wal-Mart’s Asda Group will stop rolling out its Asda At Home shopping service until it gets the business model to the point where it will support further expansion. At present, Asda reaches about a third of the UK population with its online service, compared to Tesco’s 90 percent coverage and Sainsbury’s 74 percent.

  • The New York Times reports this morning that a growing number of people would prefer to give or receive gift certificates for the holidays this year.

    One survey, by America's Research Group, reported that the number of people who wanted to give cash or gift certificates had increased from 39 percent last year to 51 percent this year, an all-time high.

    American Express did a survey suggesting that 69 percent of people will give money and gift certificates, up from 41 percent five years ago, and that 72 percent wanted to receive them.

    According to American Express, the overall cash, check and certificate market is $70 billion, and retailers particularly are appreciative because an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the recipients never even cash them in.

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