retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is out with its annual "Food Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness" study, concluding that there is "a complex combination of corporate social responsibility and vast business opportunities for food retailers."

Among the findings: "Supermarkets are increasingly identified as a health care destination," with 95 percent of stores employing "dietitians at the corporate, regional and store levels"; 70 percent of those surveyed currently view supermarket health and wellness programs as a significant business growth opportunity for the entire industry in the years ahead;

• The Wall Street Journal reports that "Barnes & Noble Inc. showed hints of progress in its turnaround efforts in the fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31, and even said it would close fewer stores this fiscal year than previously forecast."

The story says that "to attract more holiday shoppers, Barnes & Noble added such products as craft beer kits and portable turntables together with a wide selection of signed books. Those efforts were rewarded, with physical book sales stabilizing during the quarter and both the gifts and educational toys and games categories each showing gains."

While net income for the quarter grew 14% to $72.2 million, from $63.2 million, in the year-earlier quarter, revenue fell 1.7% to $1.96 billion. And in its Nook e-book business, "revenue dropped 51% to $78 million, while digital content sales declined 29% to $41 million."
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