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April sales flat

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – Retail sales rose ever so slightly in April, putting a damper on hopes of a sharp uptick in economic growth in the second quarter. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, retail sales, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, rose 0.1% in April, following a revised 1.5% increase in March that ranked as the biggest since March 2010.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), April retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, were unchanged seasonally-adjusted month-to-month, yet increased 4.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

“Even though retail sales were weaker than anticipated, the fundamentals of the economy, including improving job growth and income gains, remain positive,” said chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While the shift in Easter played into the seasonal figures, NRF remains optimistic that retail sales will keep their positive trajectory, albeit in fits-and-starts, in the second quarter.”

Additional findings from NRF’s retail sales analysis include:

• Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales increased 0.4% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 1.2% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 2.3% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.8% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 0.6% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 3.6% unadjusted year-over-year.

• General merchandise stores’ sales increased 0.2% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.3% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.6% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 6.6% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Nonstore retailers’ sales decreased 0.9% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.8% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 0.7% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 0.6% unadjusted year-over-year.

“The shift in Easter to April did not provide enough bounce to retailers as retail sales struggled to keep their strong spring pace,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “With consumer spending accounting for roughly 70% of total economic activity, NRF remains hopeful that the uninspiring April retail sales figures are just a temporary seasonal fluctuation.”

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Macys.com improves customer insight with SAP analytics

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Macys.com has successfully deployed the SAP InfiniteInsight solution to help better understand customer buying behavior and optimize email and website marketing campaigns. The company had a number of variables to understand when it came to understanding likelihood of a customer to spend in a certain product category.

The traditional approach to predictive analytics would have required a number of data scientists on staff for Macys.com, as well as a predictive model for each product category. The SAP InfiniteInsight solution replaces the classic model creation process and allows Mcys.com to build 20 predictive models in a few weeks, a 15 times increase in productivity compared to the previous solution.

Working with SAP, Macy’s.com deployed SAP InfiniteInsight in three months and has since seen an 8%-12% increase in online sales through more targeted emails to registered users as well as visitors to the Macy’s.com website.

"SAP InfiniteInsight is a product that excels in speed to results," said Kerem Tomak, group VP, marketing analytics and CRM, Macys.com. "It’s scalable, concise and very efficient; it’s the reliable choice for predictive modeling. It’s my go-to product for everything that requires scales for my enterprise-level solution."

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Kohl’s & Toshiba team up with Plug and Play

BY CSA STAFF

Kohl’s and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions have partnered with Plug and Play for their newest program, Plug and Play Retail, to engage with startups that align with their developing technology initiatives.

Plug and Play Retail is the first brand and retail-focused startup accelerator bringing together a round-table of complementary partners to guide the direction of the program and help decide the startups accepted.

“We are pleased to announce Plug and Play’s partnership with Kohl’s and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions and plan to leverage their deep industry knowledge and expertise to advise our investment strategy in the retail space. With their guidance, we will look to invest $25K-$100K in up to 30 retail-focused startups from around the world,” said Saeed Amidi, Plug and Play’s CEO and founder.

The Retail Accelerator is a 12-week program designed for early and growth stage startups. Qualified companies are developing solutions in areas like inventory management, forecasting, augmented reality and Beacon. Through tailored deal flow, themed workshops, and face-to-face interaction, Plug and Play Retail aims to enable corporations to engage with startups that may complement their respective suite of offerings or create new potential revenue streams.

Startups accepted into the program receive funding from Plug and Play Ventures, weekly mentor sessions with industry thought-leaders, and opportunities for potential pilot projects, all culminating at Plug and Play’s quarterly demo day.

"Through our commitment to innovation, Kohl’s is investing in the new technology, platforms and partnerships that will elevate customers’ connection with Kohl’s,” said Ratnakar Lavu, Kohl’s EVP of digital technology. “The way consumers shop and share is changing faster than ever, and we are staying several steps ahead to ensure their experiences with Kohl’s remain both easy and exciting."

Plug and Play Retail will be accepting applications until May 31 and the program begins June 30.

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