FINANCE

Deloitte Consumer Spending Index holds steady

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index ticked down slightly in March, but has remained relatively steady with a reading over 4.0 the past five months. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

"The drastic ups and downs among factors including wages, home prices and unemployment claims have subsided, delivering more stability to the Index, which remains at a level consistent with real personal consumption growth of around 2 percent at an annual rate," said Patricia Buckley , director, economic policy and analysis, Deloitte Services LP, and author of the monthly Index. "Rising real home prices and small but steady consumer spending increases are among factors suggesting the country may be poised for growth this year, should the economy avoid negative impacts from Europe’s financial troubles or the debt ceiling debate this summer."

The Index, which comprises four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — fell slightly this month to 4.12 from a reading of 4.37 the previous month.

"Consumers have maintained their level of spending in recent months and retailers should be encouraged by the economic signals," said Alison Paul , vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader. "However, retailers do not have the wind entirely at their backs this month: Consumers with their tax refunds may be a welcome sight in April, but the month will come without the usual Easter holiday to boost sales. Retailers should simultaneously focus on consumers’ pent up demand and tax refunds, coaxing shoppers to leave behind the winter’s chill and replace the items that were on the back burner, while giving them a promotional incentive to combine those purchases in the retailer’s store."

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Apr-16-2013 03:39 pm

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OPERATIONS

Accenture Survey: Consumers want seamless experience across all channels

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Retailers that deliver on their customers’ expectations and provide them with a seamless shopping experience – whether they are shopping in a store, online or through a mobile device – will win their loyalty and gain a competitive advantage that drives sales, according to new research by Accenture.

The Accenture Seamless Retail Study found that consumers remain bullish on the in-store shopping experience: Almost all survey participants (94%) found in-store shopping easy. They are less bullish, however, about their experience with other shopping channels: 74% said online shopping is easy, but only 26% found the mobile phone shopping experience easy.

Nearly half (49%) of consumers believe the best thing retailers can do to improve the shopping experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels. An overwhelming 89% of consumers said it is important for retailers to let them shop for products in the way that is most convenient for them, no matter which sales channel they choose.

“Seamlessness is a tall order for most traditional retailers,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “In many cases we have found a significant gap between consumer expectations and reality, but we believe seamlessness is achievable. Traditional retailers must take stock of their operational capabilities. They require a presence at every stage of the customer journey to deliver a consistently personalized, on-brand experience from discovery through research, purchase, fulfillment and beyond to product maintenance or returns.”

The research also indicates that consistency weighs heavily on the consumer experience. For example, 73% of consumers expect a retailer’s online pricing to be the same as its in-store pricing, and 61% expect a retailer’s online promotions to be the same as its in-store promotions.

Despite these findings, a benchmark analysis by Accenture of the top retailers globally indicated that while 73% offer the same promotions online as in the store, only 16% offer the same prices online as they do in the store. Additionally, while 43% of consumers surveyed expect a retailer to offer the same product assortment online as they do in the store, only 19% of retailers actually offer the same product assortment, according to Accenture’s analysis of top retailers.

In other survey findings:

  • In the six months prior to the survey, 73% of respondents indicated that they participated in “showrooming”, browsing at least once in-store and then buying online, and 88% said they participated in “web-rooming,” or browsing first on the Internet then buying in-store.
  • 43% of all U.S. consumers plan to shop more online and 23% plan to shop more with their mobile phones in the future.
  • With regards to what kind of information they would like from retailers before going to a physical store, 82% of consumers selected having access to current product availability as their top choice. However, the Accenture research showed that this is offered by only 21% of retailers. The survey also found that 30% of shoppers want retailers to provide a crowd indicator that would allow them to know how busy the store is.

“Stores remain a crucial asset by which traditional players can differentiate themselves from the online pure-play retailers,” said Donnelly. “They can serve as a showcase for desirable brands and places where customers can enjoy an experience and social interactions.”

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T.Platt says:
Apr-16-2013 11:50 am

seamless experience
Brands and retailers should not be surprised that consumers value convenience, and welcome a connection across all channels that enables them to purchase when and where they want, always able to chat with a product specialist and engage across all channels--#CEM http://amex.co/13rIN5K

T.Platt says:
Apr-16-2013 11:50 am

Brands and retailers should not be surprised that consumers value convenience, and welcome a connection across all channels that enables them to purchase when and where they want, always able to chat with a product specialist and engage across all channels--#CEM http://amex.co/13rIN5K

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News

Former CDW exec in driver’s seat at Cars.com

BY CSA STAFF

CHICAGO — Former CDW executive Barbara Mousigian has been appointed VP of product for Cars.com, an online resource for buying and selling new and used cars.

Mousigian will be responsible for defining the company’s product strategy. She will also oversee the development and launch of new products and help her team enhance Cars.com’s existing properties.

"As we push ourselves for rapid growth via the rollout of successful new products, our commitment to innovation is more important now than ever," said William Swislow, Cars.com’s chief information officer and SVP of product. "I’m confident Barbara’s strong and diverse business background will be a major asset as we continue to build effectiveness and hone the strategy of our product organization."

With 16 years of Web leadership experience and a robust marketing background, Mousigian has worked in a variety of industries, including e-commerce, consumer packaged goods and marketing services. Mousigian was a senior director at CDW, leading strategy and day-to-day operations for the company’s multibillion-dollar e-commerce business, including mobile, search engine marketing and social media components.

"At its core, a product organization should take all available information, research and customer insights and translate those into the solutions people need, delivered just before they realize they need them," said Mousigian. "I am very excited to join an industry leader like Cars.com that is committed to the consumer experience and embraces testing, trying new things and challenging the boundaries of their arena."

Mousigian earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton University and her strategy and marketing-concentrated MBA from University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

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