Consumer confidence improves in Dec.
New York — U.S. consumer confidence, which decreased in November 2013, rebounded the following month, according to The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which now stands at 78.1 (1985=100), up from 72 in November.
The Present Situation Index increased to 76.2 from 73.5. The Expectations Index increased to 79.4 from 71.1 the prior month. Consumers’ appraisal of overall current conditions improved. Those claiming business conditions are “good” edged down to 19.6% from 20.4%, however, those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 22.6% from 24.6%. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was also more upbeat. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” ticked up to 12.2% from 12.0%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 32.5% from 34.1%.
Consumers’ expectations, which had decreased in November, improved in December. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 17.2% from 16.7%, and those expecting business conditions to worsen decreased to 14% from 16.1%.
Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was considerably more optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased sharply to 17.1% from 13.1%, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 19.0% from 21.4%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 13.9% from 15.3%, while those expecting a decrease in their incomes declined to 14% from 15.5%.
“Consumer confidence rebounded in December and is now close to pre-government shutdown levels (September 2013, 80.2),” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Sentiment regarding current conditions increased to a five-and-a-half year high (April 2008, 81.9), with consumers attributing the improvement to more favorable economic and labor market conditions. Looking ahead, consumers expressed a greater degree of confidence in future economic and job prospects, but were moderately more pessimistic about their earning prospects. Despite the many challenges throughout 2013, consumers are in better spirits today than when the year began.”
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for the Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was Dec. 17.
Walmart, Walgreens fill public-exchange prescriptions at no upfront cost
Bentonville, Ark. — Through the end of January 2014, customers at Walmart and Walgreens who have signed up for public health exchanges but have not yet received their plan identification information from their insurance providers will be able to fill up to a 30-day supply of prescriptions with no upfront cost.
"At Walmart, we are committed to offering our customers affordable ways to stay healthy, including access to their medications,” said John Agwunobi, senior VP and president, health & wellness, Walmart U.S. "Our pharmacists will also provide assistance in verifying enrollment and will be available to help answer questions about the new insurance plans."
Staples to change logo, tagline
Framingham, Mass. — Staples is changing its logo by removing the bent staple that forms the “L” in “Staples.” Initially, Staples is excluding the bent staple in its logo in a number of places, including its e-commerce site and the company’s social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and the easyBlog.
Social fans and followers can join the "What the L is going on at Staples?" conversation by using the hash tag #WhatTheL. On Jan.9, Staples will swap out the bent staple in the logo with a range of products beyond office supplies, from cleaning products to technology to breakroom snacks. The company is also launching a new tagline, “Make more happen.”
"Make more happen highlights how Staples is reinventing itself to provide every product businesses need to succeed," said Shira Goodman, executive VP of global growth at Staples. “We’re adding thousands of new products every day. Our expanded product assortment appeals to businesses across a wide range of industries, from medical and restaurants to professional services and retail."