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Archive for Friday, July 8, 2005

Briefcase

July 8, 2005

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Steep auto discounts not expected to spread

Consumers shouldn't expect offers of "employee discounts" to spread from current car models to power boats, furniture or other big-ticket items, analysts say.

Companies that sell such items already offer deep discounts and gimmicks like zero percent financing, and don't believe they need to mimic the tactics of the top three U.S. automakers, analysts say.

Scott B. Krugman, a spokesman for the Washington-based National Retail Federation, said that "retailers are already aggressive when it comes to discounting."

What's different about Detroit's discounting is that it grows out of automakers' need to boost sales.

Taxes

H&R Block buys online services firm

One month after pledging to stanch the loss of customers from its digital tax business, H&R Block Inc. said Thursday it had acquired TaxNet Inc., a small, online tax service company whose founders helped create the popular Turbo Tax software.

San Diego-based TaxNet, formed last year by Tom Allanson and David Murray, launched its online tax preparation and filing program in January. Formerly with Intuit Inc.'s Turbo Tax division, Allanson and Murray will become H&R Block vice presidents specializing in digital tax services.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

H&R Block plans to add TaxNet's online service to an existing lineup of digital tax products, retaining the features that TaxNet has touted as friendlier than those of other Web-based services.

Shares of H&R Block on the New York Stock Exchange closed up 18 cents at $58.59 Thursday.

Retail

Payless ShoeSource reports sales rise

Payless ShoeSource Inc. said Thursday that sales at its stores open at least a year grew 1.7 percent last month.

The June same-store sales gain compares with a 1 percent decline last year. Total sales for the month fell 0.3 percent to $275.8 million from $276.6 million a year ago, the footwear retailer said.

For the year to date, same-store sales for Topeka-based Payless rose 2.8 percent, with retail sales climbing a slight 0.6 percent to $1.21 billion from $1.2 billion.

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