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Proposed Oversight of Apple Scaled Back by Judge

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote is scaling back the government’s recommendation for oversight of Apple Inc., reported the Wall Street Journal.

The proposal for Apple to be the subject of oversight by the government, including its sale and distribution of TV shows, movies, and music, came after Apple was found liable for colluding with publishers in order to raise the price of e-books.

Wanting Apple to maintain its “flexibility to innovate,” Cote is limiting the oversight to e-books. The government also proposed a court-appointed monitor for Apple, to which Cote instead recommended a monitor appointed on a limited basis to ensure that Apple is pursuing internal compliance and antitrust training for its employees.

A lawyer for Apple said the company still plans to appeal Cote’s findings.

Online Retail Sales Remain Low for Chain Stores

The Securities and Exchange Commission has solicited information about online sales from roughly a dozen chain retailers throughout the country, reported the Wall Street Journal. The SEC is looking into the possibility that retailers are exaggerating their online selling power by indicating high growth rates without disclosing the actual contribution to sales.

Target said its digital sales grew by double-digit percentages, but that “digital sales represented an immaterial amount of total sales.” The company tells investors that Internet sales make up less than two percent of its $73 billion in overall sales.

Wal-Mart indicated a 30 percent increase in online sales worldwide, but told the SEC that Internet sales held 5.8 percent of total U.S. retail sales in the second quarter of 2013 and contributed 0.1 to 0.2 percentage point to the company’s 2.4 percent increase in U.S. comparable-store sales in 2013.

Online sales make up less than one percent of PetSmart’s sales, the company stated.

Several retailers told the SEC that their customers “continually shift purchases between their stores, websites, and mobile-phone applications,” so separating out the numbers does not give an accurate picture of sales overall. This “omnichannel” approach to buying does not consider how the purchase is made, as long as it is completed.

The Wall Street Journal also noted that trade publication Internet Retailer reported that Amazon “sells more online than its next 12 biggest competitors combined, including Staples Inc. and Wal-Mart.”