FINANCE

Consumer Sentiment Index declined in October

BY CSA STAFF

Ann Arbor, Mich. — The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment, released Friday, showed that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly declined in October, with Americans more pessimistic about current economic conditions.

The index decreased to 67.9, the lowest since July, from 68.2 in September.

Unemployment projected to remain above 9% through next year may keep weighing on sentiment and make Americans reluctant to ramp up their spending, which accounts for 70% of the economy.

The Thomson Reuters sentiment index averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007 and has yet to reach that level since the recovery began in June 2009.

Separate figures from the Labor Department on Friday showed consumer prices rose 0.1% in September, less than forecast. The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales climbed more than forecast in September; spending rose 0.6% following a 0.7% gain in August that was larger than previously estimated.

Consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, rose to 64.6 from 60.9, which was the lowest since March 2009, according to the Friday sentiment index.

The survey’s measure of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket items such as cars, dropped to 73, the lowest since November, from 79.6 in the previous month.

Other index results showed that consumers expect an inflation rate of 2.6% over the next 12 months, compared with 2.2% projected in September.

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STORE SPACES

McDonald’s targets LEED Gold for California site

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — A renovated McDonald’s in Riverside, Calif., became the first McDonald’s west of the Mississippi, and the fourth in the United Sates, to seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.

The building, which has stood as a McDonald’s restaurant for 44 years, reopened after a renovation that made the building more sustainable and energy-efficient. The new green features include:

  • Light colored hardscape to reduce heat emissions from site;
  • Native drought tolerant plants to reduce water consumption by landscape;
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water usage;
  • Installation of 294 photovoltaic panels to generate a percentage of the restaurant’s power consumption; and
  • Recycled denim insulation inside the building.

The restaurant features an interactive touch-screen display for visitors to learn about the building, environmental sustainability, and how individuals can reduce their carbon footprint.

Other LEED-certified McDonald’s restaurants are located in Cary, N.C., Savannah, Ga., and Chicago. The Riverside restaurant expects to receive LEED certification within one year.

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News

Target renovates Chicago area stores to new layout

BY CSA STAFF

Minneapolis — Target announced that more than 55 of its stores in the Chicago area have been redesigned to further deliver one-stop shopping convenience for guests. The stores have been updated to feature the retailer’s open-market grocery layout, with an expanded selection of fresh produce, fresh meat and baked goods.

In addition to the expanded fresh food layout, the beauty department displays softer lighting and curved fixtures, as well as interactive screens to help guests select the right beauty products for their individual needs. The home department has added wider aisles and lower product fixtures offering easier navigation and enabling guests to see more of the department at a glance.

The shoe department provides better product visibility and has enhanced guest comfort by adding more seating and mirrors. Finally, the electronics department has added a fun, interactive environment with video games displayed on a unique tether system, allowing guests to browse and try games at their convenience.

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