Target is promoting free shipping for online holiday shoppers from now through December 20, with the company saying conversion on its digital channels is up 40% this year. Along with the first-ever holiday free-shipping, Target says 65,000 items that can be ordered online are available for in-store pickup—and that 80% of orders are fulfilled within one hour. The retailer’s mobile and tablet apps are re-launching in time for the holidays, including the new Apple Pay in the iPhone app. A new Wish List app is launching October 31 so kids can build their lists and parents can share the list with family and friends. Target’s holiday advertising will launch November 2, including TV, radio out-of-home and catalogs—with the digital media component increased by 50% from last year……It’s easy to see why Warren Buffett wants to get into the auto retailing business. Along with yesterday’s report of strong growth at Sonic Automotive, another publicly traded dealer group has reported big gains in Q3. Total revenues were up 8% to $1.5 billion for Asbury Automotive Group, with new vehicle and used vehicle revenues each up 8%, finance and insurance revenues also up 8%, and parts and service gross profit up 12%……Alco Stores, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month, may be liquidated unless management finds a buyer by mid-November who wants to keep the discount store chain operating. The bankruptcy judge has selected liquidation specialist Great American Group as a “stalking horse” bidder for the company, which operates 198 general merchandise discount stores in 23 states……Rent-A-Center grew Q3 revenues by 2% to $769.5 million, but not from its core U.S. stores bearing the RAC name. Same store sales there were down 3.6%, although management says adding smartphones improved business. The quarter’s sales gains came from increases of 25.7% and 25.9% in the Acceptance Now and Mexico segments, respectively. Acceptance Now operates rent-to-own programs through retail chains, primarily in the furniture and appliance sectors……Chain Store Age reports that Ross Stores opened 20 new Ross Dress for Less and eight new DD’s Discounts stores across 14 different states in September and October. These new locations are part of the off-price retailer’s plans to add a total of approximately 75 Ross and 20 DD’s Discounts stores during 2014……Revenues for the fiscal quarter ended September 23 rose 2.2% to $62.6 million for Frisch’s Restaurants, Inc.. Same store sales were up 1.8%. All Frisch’s Big Boy Restaurants (95 owned and 26 franchised) are currently located in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.