FINANCE

Consumer confidence inches up in August

BY Dan Berthiaume

New YorkThe Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in July, increased slightly in August. The Index now stands at 81.5, up from 81.0 in July.

Optimism for the near future drove the overall improvement in Index performance, as the Expectations Index increased to 88.7 from 86 last month while the Present Situation Index decreased to 70.7 from 73.6. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions moderately declined. Those stating business conditions are “good” decreased to 18.4% from 20.8%, while those stating business conditions are “bad” was virtually unchanged at 24.8%. Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was mixed. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 11.4% from 12.3%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined to 33.0% from 35.2%.

Consumers’ expectations, which had retreated in July, increased in August. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months edged up to 20.1% from 19.9%. Those expecting business conditions to worsen declined slightly to 11.1% from 11.3%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market remained upbeat. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 17.6% from 16.7%, while those anticipating fewer jobs edged down to 17.3% from 17.7%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase improved to 17.4% from 15.7%. Those expecting a decrease declined slightly to 13.5% from 13.7%.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board, said consumer short-term expectations are improving to levels not seen since early 2011.

“Consumers were moderately more upbeat about business, job and earning prospects,” said Franco. “In fact, income expectations, which had declined sharply earlier this year with the payroll tax hike, have rebounded to their highest level in two and a half years. Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, on the other hand, was somewhat less favorable than last month.”

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B&N retail group CEO sells off shares

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Mitchell Klipper, CEO of Barnes & Noble’s retail group., has sold off two-thirds of his stock holdings in Barnes & Noble between Aug. 22 and Aug. 26, according to reports.

An SEC filing indicates that Klipper sold 400,000 of roughly 600,000 shares he held in the company, grossing more than $5.5 million.

Klipper’s sale follows the release of disappointing first quarter financial results for Barnes & Noble last week, including a worse-than-expected net loss of $87 million for the first quarter and falling revenues for the entire chain as well as for its struggling Nook e-reader. In addition, Barnes & Noble founder, chairman and largest shareholder, Leonard Riggio, called off his offer to buy the company’s retail business.

According to the Wall Street Journal, senior management of Barnes & Noble had been prohibited from selling company stock during a strategic review period that ended when first quarter earnings were publicly released.

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Skullcandy amps up board

BY CSA STAFF

PARK CITY, Utah — Skullcandy has appointed Heidi O’Neill, who is VP and GM of women’s training and fitness at Nike, to the company’s board of directors.

"I could not be more excited to welcome Heidi into the Skullcandy family. Her deep knowledge of the female consumer, active lifestyles, and driving global brands is unsurpassed, making her an invaluable partner as we reinforce Skullcandy’s global market position," stated Hoby Darling, president and CEO. "I know from my experience at Nike that she will bring tremendous insight and guidance to help shape our strategic course. Her experience is out shown only by her positivity and ability to drive change."

O’Neill is a founding member of the Nike Global Women’s Leadership Council. Prior to joining Nike in 1998, she was marketing director for the Dockers brand at Levi Strauss & Co and VP at Foote Cone & Belding in San Francisco.

She is a recipient of the Women Who Change the Game Award, Advertising Women of New York, 2010, as well as an advisory board member of the Children’s Cancer Association, and a founding board member of the Nike School Innovation Fund.

Skullcandy is a leading global designer, marketer and distributor of audio and gaming headphones and other accessory related products under the Skullcandy, Astro Gaming and 2XL by Skullcandy brands. Skullcandy was launched in 2003.

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