FINANCE

Consumer confidence takes a big dive; government shutdown blamed

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Consumer confidence fell sharply in October, according to The Conference Board, whose monthly consumer confidence measure dropped to 71.2 in October, down from 80.2 in September. Economists had expected a reading of 75.0 in October.

The Present Situation Index decreased to 70.7 from 73.5.The Expectations Index fell to 71.5 from 84.7 last month.

“Consumer confidence deteriorated considerably as the federal government shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis took a particularly large toll on consumers’ expectations,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Similar declines in confidence were experienced during the payroll tax hike earlier this year, the fiscal cliff discussions in late 2012, and the government shutdown in 1995/1996. However, given the temporary nature of the current resolution, confidence is likely to remain volatile for the next several months.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined moderately. Those claiming business conditions are “good” decreased to 19.0% from 20.7%, however, those claiming business conditions are “bad” edged down to 23% from 23.9%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was less favorable than last month. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” was virtually unchanged at 11.3% from 11.4%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” increased to 35.8% from 33.6 %.

Consumers’ expectations, which had softened in September, decreased sharply in October. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell to 16% from 20.6%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased to 17.5% from 10.3%.

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News

Market Track acquires Competitrack

BY CSA STAFF

Promotion and pricing intelligence leader Market Track has acquired Competitrack to bolster its digital and electronic media capabilities and provide richer insights to retailers and consumer goods companies.

Chicago-based Market Track provides clients with retail promotion, real-time e-commerce and pricing intelligence solutions in North America while New York-based Competitrack is a leading provider of directly placed product and image data across 22 media channels including TV, print, radio, online display, online video, social and mobile advertising.

“This combination will be incredibly valuable to clients of both firms,” Market Track CEO Wayne Mincey said of the deal. “The unique media and content coverage that each of our organizations brings to this partnership will quickly allow clients from both companies access to a more comprehensive view of what is hitting the market and influencing their customers.”

For example, he said Market Track plans to integrate Competitrack’s promotions-related TV, radio and mobile coverage, while Competitrack clients will have access to Market Track’s Internet ads featured in more than 200 retailers’ websites as well as deeper print and FSI coverage.

Bob Moss, founder of Competitrack, said the combination of the companies was a good fit because of a shared culture of client service, commitment to innovation, technological leadership and product excellence.

“Both companies provide comprehensive market and media coverage, highly detailed datasets, and an understanding that speed of information is critical to the decision makers we serve,” Moss said. “The combined expertise and complementary datasets of the two firms will enable us to offer what I am confident will be the strongest competitive tracking and analytics capabilities available.”

Moss will remain with Market Track in an advisory capacity and serve on the board of directors while Competitrack president Ginny Tuckman will remain in her role.

Market Track’s acquisition of Competitrack follows an investment in Market Track by Los Angeles-based Aurora Capital Group last year.

“What we see here are two companies with highly complementary capabilities and the shared attributes of core intellectual property, a premier client base with extraordinarily strong renewal rates, and some of the highest Net Promoter Scores we have seen in the software and information services space,” said Josh Klinefelter, a partner at Aurora Capital. “Together, we are highly confident that these two great companies will continue to innovate and bring additional insights to their customers.”

Market Track is best known for its Web-based software-as-a-service platform called FeatureVision which enables retailers and manufacturers to monitor and analyze causal data, including real-time e-commerce data, to maximize the value of promotional and pricing campaigns. FeatureVision is used as a competitive intelligence tool to determine how products and brands are being promoted and to ensure compliance with trade promotion agreements.

Competitrack approaches the marketplace from a different angle as a full service competitive advertising tracking firm. Its coverage spans all major industries and includes more than 75 of the nation’s top 100 advertisers and their ad agencies. The company engages in creative monitoring, competitive spending, ad message content analysis and data inputs for marketing mix models. Competitrack’s FastTrack media reporting provides highly granular spend data for 11 media across more than 1,700 media channels within four days of the close of each week and delivers breaking creatives for leading media within six to 24 hours of first appearance. The firm boasts a creative archive of more than 11 million ads from the U.S. and more than 60 countries.

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REAL ESTATE

RadioShack opening ‘retro’ store in Fort Worth, Texas

BY Dan Berthiaume

Fort Worth, Texas – RadioShack has pulled out all the stops for its new hometown location in Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, opening a retro-styled store that speaks to the heritage of the brand and locale. Set to open Oct. 30, it will be the tenth RadioShack concept store to open nationwide, but the first to feature a custom design.

“We are thrilled to open our first and only custom concept store in Fort Worth, our home, and where so much of our spirit of innovation and customer service originates," said Joe Magnacca, CEO of RadioShack. "Sundance Square provides an amazing location for this completely unique shopping experience, and we invite those who work, play and visit downtown Fort Worth to come and experience the new RadioShack."

The 2,357-sq.-ft. store has a mid-century modern feel. Features unique to the Fort Worth location include:

  • Brand evolution banners on the outside of the store with logos dating from 1921 to the present day, interactive projections at the entrance and outside;
  • Historical videos in store windows highlighting the heritage of RadioShack and history of Fort Worth;
  • Interactive projections at the entrance and inside where movement sweeps away the retro RadioShack logo to reveal the new logo introduced in July 2013;
  • One-of-a-kind interior design features including elements of a "radio shack" – a ship’s communication center and inspiration for the brand – at the checkout counter as well as retro product displayed throughout the store; and
  • Custom Fort Worth uniform shirts featuring a retro logo.

Similar to the company’s other new format stores, the new location will also sport an upgraded shopping experience, with such features as a speaker wall where customers can shop and compare 13 different speakers using music installed on in-store tablets or played from their own Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, interactive displays that enable shoppers to find and compare products, and a do-it-yourself area where consumers can plan projects.

By the end of 2013, RadioShack will have more than 100 concept and brand statement stores open and will have made improvements to nearly all 4,300 stores throughout the nation.

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