FINANCE

Deloitte: Consumer spending dips in October

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index marginally dipped in October after two months of consecutive increases. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

The Index, which comprises four components–tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices–decreased to 4.1 in October from 4.4 the prior month.

Highlights of the Index include:

Tax Burden: The tax rate has been effectively unchanged staying steady from the prior month at 11.8%.

Initial Unemployment Claims: Claims marginally decreased to 295,000 from 303,000 the previous month down 9.7% from the same period a year earlier.

Real Wages: Real hourly wages were slightly down 0.1% from the previous month to $8.84.

Real Median New Home Price: New home prices fell 9.8% from the prior month to $109,000. Prices are still 3.7% higher than the same period in 2013.

Alison Paul, vice chairman Deloitte LLP and retail and distribution sector leader, said despite this small setback consumer spending for the holiday season looks strong.

"Despite a slight dip in home prices, consumers appear to be poised for some strong spending this season with lower gas prices and employment gains strengthening their confidence, said Paul. "In fact, in our most recent consumer holiday survey, shoppers told us they plan to spend 13 percent more than last year. And, in comparison to recent years, many will be shopping without a strict budget, which is good news for retailers hoping to up-sell or cross-sell more impulse prone shoppers. For retailers, the opportunity is there this year to provide in-demand products along with product complements and premium options. And of course, retailers should think about equipping their sales associates with information and ideas so they are sure to encourage customers to take advantage of additional offerings."

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OPERATIONS

Target adds in-store navigation features to app

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis — Target Corp. has gone live with several new in-store navigation features. The features include new interactive maps along with enhanced shopping lists and search capabilities.

Leveraging Point Inside technology, Target customers can use the app to more easily build shopping lists, find product locations and determine item availability at local stores. New features include:

Interactive maps overlay item locations as a pin on the store map, making it easier for guests to find products as they shop.

Shopping lists provide a product's aisle location when a guest is in store and link directly to the new, interactive maps.

Type-ahead, auto-complete functionality allows guests to quickly add items to their shopping lists.

Interactive Black Friday maps will provide store layouts and doorbuster locations for Target's Black Friday sale.

The new lists and maps are part of Target's recently announced overhaul of its iPhone app, which now also features simpler navigation, more intuitive user experience and one-touch checkout for online purchases with Apple Pay. Target also has recently revamped its desktop and mobile websites, and re-launched its iPad app with user-generated content from Pinterest and Instagram. Point Inside is delivering its services to Target via Point Inside's enterprise-grade mobile shopping engagement SaaS platform, StoreMode.

"We want to build mobile experiences that Target guests will love," said Alan Wizemann, VP of product for Target.com and Mobile. "We believe the new shopping lists and maps make it easier than ever to shop Target. While we've got a lot more mobile innovation to come, we look forward to guest feedback on these new experiences so that we can continue to refine and enhance them."

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FINANCE

Report: Sears Canada, J.P. Morgan to end credit card agreement in Nov. 2015

BY Dan Berthiaume

Toronto, Canada –- J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. will reportedly end its agreement to issue credit cards for Sears Canada when the term expires Nov. 15, 2015. According to the Wall Street Journal, in the meantime the two companies will explore opportunities to sell the credit card program to a third party, with Sears Canada receiving as much as $154 million if a sale goes through.

The companies did not disclose how many credit cards are part of the program. This latest setback for struggling Sears Canada comes about a month after parent company Sears Holding said it would sell off most of its 51% ownership stake to shareholders in a rights offering.

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