Consumer Confidence Continues to Slip
New York City The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in December, inched lower in January and continues to be at a historic low. The Index now stands at 37.7 (1985=100), down from 38.6 in December. The Present Situation Index declined slightly to 29.9 from 30.2 last month. The Expectations Index decreased moderately to 43.0 from 44.2.
Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center said, “The Consumer Confidence Index continues to hover at all-time lows (Index began in 1967) and it appears that consumers have begun the New Year with the same degree of pessimism that they exhibited in the final months of 2008. The minor change in the Present Situation Index suggests that economic conditions did not deteriorate significantly further in January but, on the other hand, they did not improve either.”
Consumers’ assessment of overall current conditions remains pessimistic. Those saying business conditions are “bad” increased to 47.9% from 45.8%, while those saying business conditions are “good” declined to 6.4% from 7.7% last month.
Consumers’ assessment of the labor market, however, was slightly more positive. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” edged down to 41.1% from 41.5% in December, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” edged up to 7.2% from 6.5%.
Consumers’ short-term outlook remains quite pessimistic. Those expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months decreased slightly to 31.1% from 32.9%, while those anticipating conditions to improve remained relatively unchanged at 13.3% in January, compared to 13.4% in December.
Staples expands ink, toner recycling program
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. Staples announced that beginning Feb. 1, it will expand its ink and toner recycling program to award $3 in Staples Rewards on any brand of type of ink toner to customers who recycle these products.
In 2008, the company recycled more than 22 million ink and toner cartridges. With this program expansion, Staples expects to recycle more than 30 million cartridges in 2009 and become the world’s largest ink and toner recycler.
This expanded recycling program will make it even easier for customers to recycle their ink and toner cartridges while providing new ways to save money and be more eco-friendly. Customers can simply bring empty cartridges to any Staples store, each of which will earn them $3 back in Staples Rewards or Staples Teacher Rewards, on up to 10 cartridges per calendar month. Ink and toner recycling Staples Rewards are sent monthly and can be used on any Staples purchase in store, online or over the phone.
“The emergence of user-friendly ink and toner recycling programs like the one Staples is offering is an important step in helping Americans make more environmentally-friendly choices in their daily lives by keeping valuable products and materials out of the waste stream,” said Matt Hale, director of the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery of U.S. EPA.
New competition in Walmart’s backyard
Target competes with Walmart in virtually every market where its 1,684 stores are located. But this spring, one market of particular interest will be Rogers, Ark.
The rapidly growing community in the Northwest corner of the state is adjacent to the town of Bentonville, where Wal-Mart’s headquarters are located. Target’s new store set to open March 8 is the retailer’s first in Benton County, and the closest to its arch rival’s headquarters. Previously, if Wal-Mart’s home office employees or its suppliers wanted to conduct competitive store visits, they traveled south to Washington County and the town of Fayetteville, where Target has operated a discount store for the past 10 years.
Target’s newest unit at 2404 Promenade Boulevard is adjacent to the new Pinnacle Hills Promenade mall. The new mall was a godsend to area residents hungry for convenient alternatives to shopping at Walmart, and that is likely to be the case with Target as well.