Consumer report: Holiday retail season starts strong, led by personal electronics
Yonkers, N.Y. — Despite flagging consumer confidence, December’s Consumer Reports Index, a measure of overall consumer financial health, showed that the holiday season is off to a good start, with excellent activity in November and the prospect of a strong December.
The Past 30-Day Retail Index for December was 13.9, up from 12.4 a year ago, and planned spending for December was also strong at 12.7 compared to 11.8 last year. Among the categories comprising the Retail Index, the largest gains were in personal electronics.
Though there has been no improvement in Consumer Sentiment or in the financial difficulties faced by consumers, overall, measures are fairly stable.
"It may be this relative stability in contrast to the gloom of the past several years, that is causing consumers to cast off the restraint of the seasons gone by and ‘celebrate’ with some serious shopping," said Ed Farrell, director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
December’s Consumer Reports Sentiment Index, which measures how consumers are doing financially versus a year ago, was unchanged at 45.4 from 45.0 the prior month.
The Consumer Reports Employment Index declined to 49.6 from 50.6 last month, with past 30-day job losses (5.7%) outpacing job gains (4.9%). This setback reversed three straight periods of an improving employment picture. Households earning $50,000 or more remained in positive territory (over 50), while those in households earning less than $50,000 lost ground (49.0).
Taking a closer look at the categories comprising the Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index, the gain in November spending was the result of an increase in personal electronics (31.4%), up from 21.2% last month.
Lowe’s to open new customer support center in New Mexico
Mooresville, N.C. — Lowe’s said Thursday it will open a new Customer Support Center in Albuquerque, N.M., in first quarter 2012.
The center is estimated to create 250 jobs by March and a total of 600 jobs by the end of 2013.
Lowe’s said it plans to invest more than $15 million to renovate leased space in a 65,000-sq.-ft. building which, when complete, will provide multiple support functions including customer care, store support, internet sales support and repair services for customers. The new center is intended to complement the company’s existing Customer Support Center in Wilkesboro, N.C.
National Lumber & Hardware to roll out Cardtronics ATMs
Houston — ATM owner Cardtronics said Thursday it has forged a long-term agreement in Puerto Rico with National Lumber & Hardware to install ATMs at 38 locations for the home improvement and interior design retailer.
National Lumber & Hardware is a division of Pitusa, the island’s largest Puerto Rico-based retailer.
In a development linked to Cardtronics’ newly formed relationship with National Lumber & Hardware — as well as a separate ATM branding contract announced in 2010 — Scotiabank will place its brand on all 38 Cardtronics-owned and operated ATMs placed in National Lumber & Hardware stores. Including the National Lumber & Hardware locations, Cardtronics’ ATM branding program has enabled Scotiabank to create convenient surcharge-free ATM access for its customers at more than 90 well-known convenience, grocery and home goods stores and hotel/hospitality spots in Puerto Rico.