OPERATIONS

Consumer confidence up dramatically in February

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Consumer confidence in February shot up from last month to the highest level since a year ago, according to The Conference Board. The group’s Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 70.8, up from a revised 61.5 in January, buoyed by consumers’ more positive assessment of the job market.

"Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions that they were in January," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center in a statement. "Despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects and their financial situation.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was more favorable in February. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased slightly to 13.3% from 13.2%, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 31.2% from 38.3%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was also less pessimistic. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” increased to 6.6% from 6.2% while those saying jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 38.7% from 43.3%.

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J.Sen says:
Aug-02-2012 04:29 am

Through short term work you
Through short term work you can get a major benefit or that can be a start of major benefit. So it is bad to think bad of small things! SIP

J.Sen says:
Aug-02-2012 04:29 am

Through short term work you can get a major benefit or that can be a start of major benefit. So it is bad to think bad of small things! SIP

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REAL ESTATE

Tractor Supply ups its store growth potential

BY Marianne Wilson

Brentwood, Tenn. — Tractor Supply Co. has increased its estimated domestic store growth potential to 2,100 locations from a previously estimated 1,800 stores.

Jim Wright, chairman and CEO, stated: “Over the past four years, we have effectively tested and validated the viability of the Tractor Supply store model in small markets. We are pleased that we are able to generate a comparable rate of return on investment in these markets, which opens up additional growth opportunities for Tractor Supply stores. We believe we have a long runway of growth ahead of us.”

In working toward its expanded goal of 2,100 stores, Tractor Supply will continue to target square footage growth of approximately 8% annually, which has been a “very manageable” growth rate for the company, Wright said.

Also, building on its momentum in fiscal 2011, Tractor Supply increased its long-term operating margin target to 9.5% from its previous target of 8.5%. (The chain’s operating margin was 8.3% in 2011.)

Greg Sandfort, president and COO, stated: “We have achieved record operating margins the past two years as structural changes including our Consumable, Useable, Edible (CUE) strategy, customer acquisition strategy and continuous improvement program have contributed to our strong results. Additionally, we are still in the early stages of executing our strategic gross margin initiatives, which we remain intensely focused on and from which we believe we will continue to gain traction.”

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OPERATIONS

Survey: Long checkout lines a major turnoff to shoppers

BY Marianne Wilson

Boston — Nearly 40% of smartphone-carrying shoppers abandon their in-store purchases due to long lines and 21% will abandon their purchases if there are no registers open, according to a survey sponsored by in-store commerce provider AisleBuyer.

The study, “Mobile Shopping Survey Series, Part 1: Mobile Self-Service,” also found that more than half of shoppers “hate waiting in line” at grocery stores (52%) and mass merchants (51%) the most. Other types of stores that scored high include: drug stores (29%); quick-service restaurants (27%); and club stores (26%).

“Nearly half of shoppers said if a line is too long they will either leave the store without purchasing anything or only buy the few items they came for, without shopping the rest of the store,” said Andrew Paradise, AisleBuyer’s CEO. “Giving these shoppers another way to pay — without having to wait in line — will increase the likelihood that they will ultimately purchase something in the store, rather than abandon the purchase due to frustration. The survey results clearly show that shoppers are interested in this alternative checkout experience — something savvy retailers are investing in as we speak.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Sixty-four percent of those surveyed expressed interest in scanning products from a store’s aisle using their smartphone to get additional information such as pricing, product reviews, nutritional information, related products, etc.
  • Thirty-six percent have already scanned items for more information using their smartphone.
  • Sixty percent of smartphone-carrying shoppers said they would use their mobile phone to pay during an in-store shopping trip if it meant they didn’t have to wait in line.
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