News

Consumer confidence at highest level since June

BY CSA STAFF

New York – Optimism about the U.S. economy grew in November, pushing the latest reading on consumer sentiment to the highest level since June. The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 54.1 in November, up from a negatively revised 49.9 in October, the Conference Board, a New York-based research group that compiles the index, said Tuesday. Economists were expecting the index to increase to 52.

"Consumer confidence is now at its highest level in five months, a welcome sign as we enter the holiday season," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Hopefully, the improvement in consumers’ mood will continue in the months ahead."

The percentage of Americans expecting business conditions to pick up over the next several months increased to 16.7% from 15.8% last month, and fewer expected circumstances to worsen. Consumers were also more positive about job prospects, with 15.5% expecting more jobs in the months ahead, up from 14.5%. And over 10% are anticipating a boost in their incomes, according to the report.

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FINANCE

First Data Report: Card-based spending surges on Black Friday

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta – A report released Monday by payment solution provider First Data Corp. found that on Black Friday, card spending growth returned to pre-recession levels.

According to the First Data SpendTrend analysis for Black Friday 2010, which tracks same-store consumer spending via credit, signature debit, PIN debit and EBT cards at U.S. merchant locations, year-over-year same-store dollar volume grew 12.3%.

Transaction growth was 10.1%.

After several months of declining average purchases, consumers actually increased their overall average purchase size by 1.9% on Black Friday 2010, according to the report. Despite discounting across most merchant categories, consumers made bigger purchases. Among retailers, average tickets increased 1.1% as average ticket gains by softline retailers such as clothing/accessory stores were somewhat offset by average ticket declines among hardline retailers including electronics/appliances stores.

Overall, retailers saw Black Friday 2010 dollar volume growth of 8.6%. The biggest performers were general merchandise stores (including value retail) with dollar volume growth of 12.6%, followed by clothing/accessory stores with dollar volume growth of 10.6%, and sporting goods/hobby/book and music stores with dollar volume growth of 12.2%. Electronics/appliances fared poorly, declining 6.7% compared to last year.

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FINANCE

Barnes & Noble narrows loss, misses Street

BY CSA STAFF

New York – Barnes & Noble Inc. reported Tuesday that it narrowed its loss to $12.6 million in its fiscal second quarter, compared with a loss of $24 million in the year-ago period. Results missed Wall Street expectations, and the book seller has issued a weak outlook for the third quarter and the full year.

Revenue surged 64% to $1.91 billion, attributed to the company’s acquisition of its college book unit. Without the acquisition, sales rose 1%.

Same-store sales fell 3.3%.

Barnes & Noble said it will continue to invest in its new color Nook electronic e-reader and its digital catalog.

The company recently fought and won a proxy battle against activist investor billionaire Ron Burkle to install a poison pill plan limiting investors to a 20% stake. Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale during the process, and the company said it is meeting with “both strategic and financial institutions,” but said the review might not result in a sale or any other deal.

Barnes & Noble currently operates 717 bookstores in 50 states, as well as 637 college bookstores through its Barnes & Noble College Booksellers subsidiary.

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