Wireless users get help satisfying their java urges

Filed under: Retail |

Starbucks is offering a store-locator service in North America for cell phone and wireless computing device users who have access to text messaging or Internet browsing.

Consumers can receive a list of nearby Starbucks outlets by testing a ZIP code to MYSBUX or 697289, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Consumers also can find location information at www.starbucks.com

The locator service is free, except for the normal text messaging or Internet browsing fees charged by a user’s cellular phone carrier or wireless Internet services provider.

Cablevision focuses on impulse buys

Cablevision wants to make it possible to buy anything you want via your television remote control.

Cablevision currently has two services, “Optimum Home” and “Optimum Autos,” which allow subscribers to scroll through screens of photos and text listings of houses and cars. The service also is available online at www.optonline.net.

Patricia Gottesman, executive vice president of digital marketing and commerce, said that last year Cablevision took 600,000 orders through its systems for its video-on-demand products and its Optimum Online service.

Circuit City sales up during fourth quarter

Circuit City Stores Inc. reported that net sales increased 1.2 percent to $3.93 billion during its fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 28, from $3.89 billion during the same period last year.

Consolidated comparable store sales decreased 0.5 percent from the prior year.

Net sales for the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, increased 8 percent to $12.43 billion from $11.51 billion in the prior year, with consolidated comparable store sales increasing 5.8 percent.

For the fourth quarter, net sales for the domestic segment increased 1.3 percent to $3.76 billion from $3.71 billion during the same period last year, with comparable store sales decreasing 0.5 percent from the prior year. For the quarter in the domestic segment, Web-originated sales grew 25 percent, services revenue grew 59 percent and call center sales grew 51 percent from the prior year.

For fiscal 2007, Web-originated sales totaled $1 billion, and firedog sales, including P.C. services and home theater installations, exceeded $200 million.

Retailers support tax relief amendment

The National Retail Federation is supporting an amendment that would add small business tax relief provisions to the supplemental spending bill being debated in the Senate and significantly expand a proposal about retail depreciation.

The Senate approved an amendment offered by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that would add the Senate’s version of H.R. 2, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, to H.R. 1591, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act of 2007.

The Senate version of H.R. 2, passed Feb. 1, would increase the $5.15 federal minimum wage by $2.10 over two years and provide $8.3 billion in tax relief to offset the increased payroll costs.

Tax provisions in the bill would extend the Work Opportunity Tax Credit used by retailers for five years and extend small business expensing by one year.

One of NRF’s top priorities in the bill is language that would allow retailers to depreciate remodeling and other improvements over 15 years rather than 39 years. Owners of stores that are leased can already do so, but the depreciation period will revert to 39 years at the end of 2007 if Congress does not act.

The bill would extend the deadline for three months, allowing improvements made through March 31, 2008, to be depreciated over 15 years. It would also apply the 15-year period to improvements at owned stores for the first time, ending tax discrimination against retailers who own their stores.

The amendment goes beyond what the Senate passed last month by continuing the depreciation provisions through December 31, 2008.

The House has passed the same minimum wage increase, but has offered only $1.8 billion in tax relief, limiting WOTC renewal to one year and leaving out the depreciation provision.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.