retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Los Angeles Times has a piece about PriceSmart, which has all of its three dozen stores "south of the 48 contiguous states, spread from the U.S. Virgin Islands in the north, through Central America and south to Colombia." The story notes that sales are up, and the company is in expansion mode ... though the story also says that its biggest problems are currency fluctuations and "economic conditions in the emerging economies in which the company operates."

• On Friday, Weis Markets announced the launch of what it said was its "its 12th round of price freezes, effective in all 163 stores. More than 2,000 products have been reduced in price and will remain at these discounted levels for 90 days ... Weis Markets’ current Price Freeze program includes name brand and private brand products in grocery, frozen, dairy, meat, health, beauty care and general merchandise. Customers can identify Price Freeze items through store signage and shelf tags for participating items, as well as in weekly circulars."

Weis says that since the company began its price freeze initiative six years ago, its customers "have saved more than $50 million dollars. The current program began on Sunday, January 4 and runs through April 5."

• The Associated Press reports that "JC Penney Co. says the closure of about 40 of its stores will cost around $38 million.

"The department store chain said it will book pre-tax charges of $21 million in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2014, and another $17 million will be incurred later. The company will cut about 2,250 jobs as it tries to improve its profitability."
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