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Spending Remains Low, Over Tight Credit

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A late Labour Day and delayed school openings offered some relief to merchants in September, helping to boost sales above Wall Street expectations. But spending still remains tepid as consumers focused on necessities amid job worries and tight credit.

Still, most stores posted sales declines — though smaller than in recent months — even as their figures are compared with last September when business plummeted as the financial meltdown ballooned.

As stores announced their results Thursday, J.C. Penney Co., Macy’s Inc., and teen retailer Wet Seal Inc. reported smaller-than-expected declines in sales at stores open at least a year. The measure is considered a key indicator of a retailer’s health.

Limited Brands Inc., which runs Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, and accessories chain The Buckle Inc. both posted increases for the month.

According to a preliminary tally by Thomson Reuters, nine stores beat Wall Street estimates, while four retailers’ results missed expecations.

Industry worries remain high heading into the holiday shopping season because shoppers, who were afraid to buy a year ago, are now grappling with rising job losses, reduced hours or unavailable credit. The unemployment rate is now 9.8 percent, up from around 7 percent last holiday season.

Credit also remains tight. A report released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve, shows that consumers reduced their borrowing for the seventh straight month in August as households cut spending and banks reduced credit card limits.

“Consumers remain under pressure on multiple fronts,” said Ken Perkins, president of retail research firm Retail Metrics. “I don’t think consumer spending is going to see a substantial uptick. Shoppers are concerned about rebuilding their balance sheets.”

In this climate, purveyors of fashion and nondiscretionary items continue to struggle with sluggish sales, while low-price stores benefit from shoppers switching to cheaper stores and brands.

Still, the tone was better in Thursday’s reports, as several merchants including J.C. Penney, American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and TJX Cos. raising their profit outlook based on their better-than-expected performance.

Macy’s had a 2.3 percent decline, less than the 4.6 percent drop that analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had projected.

Penney had a 1.4 percent decline for September, lower than the 3.5 percent decline Wall Street estimated.

TJX enjoyed a 7 percent gain, surpassing the 4.1 percent estimate.

Gap Inc., dragged down by sluggish sales at its namesake stores and Banana Republic, posted a 1 percent sales decline, a bit worse than the 0.4 percent dip that analysts had expected. Its lower-price Old Navy division continued to shine, posting a 13 percent gain in sales at stores opened at least a year.

Limited Brands reported that sales in stores open at least a year rose 1 percent in September; that was better than the 2.4 percent slide that analysts had predicted.

Among teen retailers, American Eagle reported flat sales, beating estimates for a 4.1 percent decrease.

Buckle Inc. said its sales at stores open at least a year rose 5.1 percent, a bit lower than the 5.8 percent gain that Wall Street anticipated.

Wet Seal had a 4.5 percent decline, but analysts had expected a 7.8 percent drop for September.

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Western Marine Command Intensifies Anti-Smuggling Operations … Intercepts N8.75m Worth PMS

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For officers and men of the Western Marine Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the battle is not over until smuggling is over.
In the wake of Wednesday May, 8, 2024, the ever vigilant officers, acting on a tip-off, intercepted 177 sacks and 61 kegs of 25 litres containing petroleum products, valued at about N8.750,000million.
The items were intercepted along Isalu Creek, Badagry Waterway en-route Benin Republic.
While briefing newsmen, the Command’s Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Paul Bamisaiye, said: “This seizure is most economically significant to the Command at this period of scarcity of Petroleum Products, especially Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in our cities, and shows the anticipatory posture in our response to economic saboteurs.
“At about 2:330hrs on Wednesday 8th May 2024, while on joint patrol by teams in the Command, credible intelligence was received of the movement of 2 boats laden with what was suspected to be petroleum products concealed in sacks. Upon receipt of the information, the team moved into Isalu creeks, Badagry waterway.
“On sighting the approach of the Officers, the smugglers took to their heels through the shore of the Creek. The loaded boats were then towed to the station at Badagry where preliminary examination was conducted and transferred to Western Marine Command Headquarters, Ibafon, Apapa, Lagos.
“Careful examination at the Command Headquarters revealed that the arrest was found to contain One Hundred and Seventy Seven (177) Sacks and Sixty One (61) Kegs of 25 Litres Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) containing Twelve Thousand Five Hundred (12,500) Liters with a total Duty Paid Value standing at Eight Million Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N8,750,000) only”.
Bamisaiye noted that the action of the smugglers is a contravention of Section 245 & 254 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 which the service, through Western Marine Command, is responsible for enforcing.
“The Command, under the leadership of Compt. PK Bamisaiye, is poised more than ever to rid the waterways of all acts of smuggling and economy sabotage for the benefit of the growth of economy of Nigeria”, he said
Bamisaiye said so far, no suspect was arrested in the Command’s anti-smuggling operations.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Illegal PMS Trading Booms In Lagos

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Petroleum products  being sought by motorists have disappeared from virtually all filling stations within Lagos and its environs, but are now booming in business in retail outlets.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that while the product could not be got at some of the petrol service stations, activities are in top gear in the local retail outlets where the price has gone beyond the reach of users.
It was also gathered that in some filling stations supplied with the products, preference are often given to retail outlet operators by petrol attendants against the consuming public.
A source, directly involved in the business, said some petrol dealers are cashing on the irregular supply to divert the products to retail outlets where they could easily make their gains.
It was also gathered that some sales representatives in the service of major oil marketing firms indulged in the diversion exercise because of their personal interest.
At the retail outlets a liter goes for N950,00 against the normal N760,to N800 at some stations.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Customs Board Appoints Five DCGs, Eight ACGs

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The Nigeria Customs Service Board (NCSB) has confirmed the appointment of five Deputy Comptroller-Generals (DCGs) and eight Assistant Comptrollers-General (ACGs) of Customs during its 59th regular meeting.
The meeting, chaired by the Honorable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, was held at the Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters in Abuja last Tuesday.
National Public Relations Officer of the Service, Chief Superintendent of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday, gave details of the confirmed appointments as: O.O. Peters (DCG /Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (rtd); B.M. Jibo (DCG Enforcement Inspection & Investigation); and B.U. Nwanfor (DCG Excise, Free Trade Zone & Industrial Incentives).
Others are: S.A. Bomia (DCG, Commander Training and Doctrine Command); and C.K. Niagwan (DCG, Tariff & Trade).
The Assistant Comptrollers General (ACGs) are: B. Imam (ACG Board); A.A.S. Oloyede (ACG, Trade & Tariff); S.K. Dangaldima (ACG/Zonal Coordinator, Zone ‘B’); A. Abdul Azeez (ACG/Zonal Coordinator, Zone ‘D’); S.A. Yusuf (ACG, Human Resource Development); N.P. Umoh (ACG, Training and Doctrine Command); C.O. Obih (ACG/Zonal Coordinator, Zone ‘C’); and S. Chiroma (ACG, Strategic Research and Policy).
The new appointments, according to the statement, were made to fill the vacancies created by some senior officers who recently retired from the Service, noting that the principles of federal character, seniority and merit guided the appointments approved by the board.
“These appointments are a testament to the officers’ exemplary services and dedication to the Nigeria Customs Service. The NCSB remains committed to providing strategic leadership to ensure effective and efficient service delivery for optimum performance”, he said.
While thanking the retired members of the management for their meritorious services, the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, congratulated the newly confirmed officers and charged them to redouble their efforts to ensure the service attains greater heights in its mandates of revenue generation, suppression of smuggling, and trade facilitation amongst others.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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