Consumer comfort climbs out of two-month hole
New York — A report released Thursday by Bloomberg said that consumer sentiment climbed during the week ended June 16 to minus 29.4, compared with minus 31.3 a week earlier and representing a lift after a two-month low. In fact, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, Americans’ views on the economy were the least pessimistic in five years.
The monthly Bloomberg consumer economic expectations gauge for June held at minus 1, matching May’s reading as the best this year.
“The sustained appreciation of home prices in many areas of the country has likely bolstered the confidence of many Americans that a gradual rebuilding of wealth is under way,” said Joseph Brusuelas, senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York.
All three components of the comfort index improved last week. The measure of how Americans view the current state of the economy climbed to minus 51.2, the highest since January 2008, from minus 52.5.
More consumers said the time was right to purchase things. A measure of the buying climate rose to minus 40.7 from minus 42.1 a week earlier. A gauge of Americans’ views on personal finances rose to 3.8 from 0.6, marking the 10th consecutive positive reading.
Consumer purchases in May climbed 0.6%, the biggest gain in three months, following a 0.1% advance in April, Commerce Department figures showed last week.
Tesco sets digital example for U.S. retailers
LONDON — U.S. retailers can look across the pond to Tesco for some digital inspiration. The retailer is launching a new tablet app that will allow shoppers to sign up for its Tesco Clubcard.
Tesco is looking to recruit more customers to sign up for the retailer’s loyalty card and join the 17 million who already have it.
The app, built by mobile marketing specialists Incentivated, is hosted on dedicated iPads located in specially created branded cases attached to the walls of stores.
Customers who join through the app see a thank you confirmation message on screen (backed up with an SMS receipt) to confirm that their details are being processed. Tesco also sends an email confirmation in the same way they do for consumers who register online.
Tesco Clubcard is currently promoting the text-in service for Clubcard on the register receipts of non-Clubcard members across its entire U.K. estate of more than 2,300 branded stores.
Incentivated is a specialist full-service mobile agency that develops mobile and m-commerce strategies, built websites, apps, campaigns and SMS and CRM solutions for blue chip businesses, brands and charities. Its clients include Airbus, British Airways, British Gas, Gatwick Airport, John Lewis, M&S, John Lewis, Waitrose Mitsubishi, Monsoon, nPower, Scottish Power and Tesco.
NRF responds to FTC investigation of patent trolls
WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation welcomed today’s announcement that the Federal Trade Commission plans to investigate patent trolls.
“Patent trolls are a drain on the economy,” NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “It’s time for Washington to put an end to this abuse of our nation’s laws. Seeing this issue receive top-level attention from the FTC is a significant development.”
FTC chair Edith Ramirez announced the investigation, which must be approved by the full commission, during a speech before the American Antitrust Institute and the Computer and Communications Industry Association in Washington. The probe would look into a variety of issues, and results would be available for use by Congress, the courts and federal agencies.
The move comes just more than two weeks after the White House announced a series of executive actions and legislative recommendations intended to crack down on frivolous lawsuits filed or threatened by patent trolls. At least half a dozen members of Congress have proposed legislation on the issue.
NRF, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association today sent a letter to Ramirez urging the commission to thoroughly examine the issue.
“Valuable resources are being extracted from end users that could be used to invest in business, create jobs and contribute to the growth of the economy, and instead are going to fight or settle frivolous infringement claims,” the letter said.
Patent trolls are firms that buy old, obscure patents from inventors, and then make millions by threatening to sue companies that use the technology involved unless they pay a licensing fee. Retailers are among the most frequent targets thanks to the industry’s increasing use of cutting-edge innovations, especially in online and mobile retailing.