OPERATIONS

ARG: Memorial Day sales to be biggest ever; retailers who open early to win big

BY Marianne Wilson

Charleston, S.C. — The number of Americans delaying their shopping to Memorial Day Weekend is at an all-time high, according to findings in two reports by America’s Research Group Surveys. The reports find that shoppers will approach Memorial Day in keeping with a growing trend: holding off on shopping until "big" holiday weekends.

“This used to be an effect that was the private reserve of ‘Black Friday,’” said ARG chairman Britt Beemer. “But beginning with our October Survey, which showed Americans delaying in record numbers, Americans have begun using the ‘hold-it-until-the-holiday’ tactic in a in a much broader and more significant way. Now, for the first time, Memorial Day Weekend is scheduled to be the biggest in our 33-year Survey history.”

According to Beemer, not only are Americans are making a weekend that was once thought of as the ‘start of summer’ into one that is akin to Black Friday — a time to clip coupons, look for sales and shop.

“Shopping levels will exceed 35% compared to 2011,” Beemer said. “Spending levels will depend on the sale offers and the discounts when shoppers get into the stores.”

Retailers who offer early bird specials and open early on Memorial Day—a la Black Friday—will see the best sales and the highest spending levels, the industry consultant said.

“The closer you come to creating ‘’Black Friday’ the better your sales will be,” Beemer explained.

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FINANCE

Hot Topic Q1 beats expectations

BY Staff Writer

City of Industry, Calif. — Hot Topic reported net income in the first fiscal quarter of $3.8 million, compared with a net loss of $7.7 million for the year-ago period. The results include $12.4 million of expenses for the implementation of the strategic business changes and cost reduction plan.

Total sales for the first quarter ended April 28, 2012, increased 6.4% to $171.5 million compared to $161.3 million for the first quarter last year. Same-store sales rose 7.5%.

“Our first quarter sales and earnings increases at both the Hot Topic and Torrid brands exceeded our early expectations. The quarterly results demonstrate the success of our key strategies of returning the Hot Topic brand to its edgy, dark and sexy core, as well as bringing true fashion to the Torrid brand,” said Lisa Harper, chairman and CEO, Hot Topic.

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OPERATIONS

Survey: 80% of consumers actively looking for rebates

BY Marianne Wilson

Lewisville, Texas — Ninety-five percent of consumers are interested in products that come with rebates and 80% of consumers actively seek out rebate, according to an annual consumer survey by Parago, the largest rebate provider in the United States.

The survey found that consumer preference for rebates versus instant discounts is growing. And while economic recovery may be on its way by the numbers, consumer sentiments around spending are still timid.

“With our third annual study of consumer shopping behavior, we have seen sustained sensitivity to price and willingness to hunt for bargains,” said Juli Spottiswood, Parago president & CEO. “Price perception is king, and consumers are indifferent to how that price point is achieved, whether through rebate, coupon, club or sale.”

However, Spottiswood added, because consumers understand that rebates offer deeper discounts than other sales, there is a strong interest in the promotions and shoppers are actively looking for rebates before and during the shopping experience.

“As such, marketers are able to leverage rebates to drive lower price perception while gaining high value customer information during the redemption process,” she said.

The rebate research was conducted independently through online delivery and surveyed more than 1,000 consumers. Key findings include:

  • Consumers’ preference for higher value rebates versus instant discounts grew;
  • Eighty percent of consumers look for rebates;
  • Because rebates are only offered for a specific period of time, they make 54% of shoppers feel like they caught an exclusive sale; and
  • Fifty-seven percent of consumers feel that rebates are easy to redeem nowadays.
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