FINANCE

Deloitte Consumer Spending Index posts fourth monthly gain

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index (Index) posted its fourth consecutive increase in June, rising to 3.22 from a reading of 3.09 the previous month. The Index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending, is comprised of four components: tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices.

“The housing market is showing signs of recovering, while energy prices continue to decrease, giving a boost to consumer buying power,” explained Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly Index. “Although consumers are financially stronger, the job market continues to affect their willingness to spend. Additionally, the oppressively hot weather impacting a large part of the country may stifle consumers’ desire to shop.”

Deloitte’s analysis of factors influencing consumer spending indicate:

Gasoline prices are down 20 cents in the past month but are down just 14 cents from a year ago. Unseasonably hot weather across much of the country could be offsetting some of the benefit of this price reduction.

The labor market remains very fragile, despite this month’s small decline in jobless claims. Consumer confidence has fallen sharply over the past two months due largely to the renewed weakness in job growth.

Home prices are stabilizing and even turning up in some markets. Record low interest rates are giving a small boost to demand and helping to increase refinancing activity. Most refinances are being done for a lower payment as there is little equity to be cashed out.

Tax rates are likely heading higher next year.

“Retailers can capitalize on changing consumer behavior, such as embracing shoppers’ use of mobile technology in the store," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader. “Deloitte’s research into smartphones’ influence on retail store sales revealed that smartphone shoppers are 14% more likely to convert in the store. Retailers should provide – not shy away from – mobile applications to capture consumers’ attention throughout the back-to-school season, particularly as smartphone use for shopping skews to younger consumers.”

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Fujifilm names new U.S. executives

BY CSA STAFF

VALHALLA, N.Y. — Fujifilm Holdings America Corporation announced that, effective June 28, Kaz Yamamura has been named as the new president of Fujifilm Holdings America Corporation; and Go Miyazaki has been promoted to president and COO of Fujifilm North America Corporation.

In his new role, Yamamura will also serve as the new chairman and CEO of Fujifilm North America Corp., overseeing management of eleven Fujifilm companies that operate in the United States. He is also a member of the board of directors and corporate VP Fujifilm Corp.

As president and COO of Fujifilm North America Corp., Miyazaki will be responsible for management of the company’s photo imaging, electronic imaging, graphic systems, optical devices and motion picture business, as well as operations for Fujifilm in Canada. Prior to this, Miyazaki was division president imaging and electronic imaging divisions for Fujifilm North America Corp.

“Fujifilm is a global brand and business leader known for its commitment to innovation and excellence, and I am honored to serve in this new role,” said Kaz Yamamura, president, FUJIFILM Holdings America Corporation and chairman and chief executive officer, FUJIFILM North America Corporation. “As Fujifilm continues to diversify its businesses in North America, we remain dedicated to our strong business relationships, and to delivering the highest quality goods and services to our consumers and customers.”

Prior to his newly announced position, Mr. Yamamura served for more than 36 years at Fujifilm, and most recently in several key management positions, including his work as Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Finance and Accounting Division, and General Manager, Business Strategy Department, Corporate Planning Division, for FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation in Japan. He also served as Chief Financial Officer for FUJIFILM Europe GmbH. He earned his Bachelor of Economics degree from Kobe University, Tokyo, Japan in 1976.

About Fujifilm

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Best Buy to hire 500 new Geek Squad staffers; teams with Verizon to offer IT support to businesses

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Best Buy plans to hire 500 new Geek Squad staffers. The move comes some two weeks after the retailer said it would lay off 600 existing workers in the tech support arm of its business as it looked to focus the group less on basic installation services and more on remote tech consulting. It also comes as Verizon announced it was partnering with Geek Squad to offer services to meet the information technology requirements of small and mid-size businesses across the country.

Verizon said it designed the new solution, IT Help Desk, to help the companies, which often cannot support in-house staffing resources, keep the focus on their business by leaving technology challenges and opportunities to a dedicated team of specialists.

Best Buy said the new hires will be divided between the Geek Squad’s online tech support and in Best Buy stores nationally. Hiring will take place throughout the fiscal year. Best Buy spokeswoman Paula Baldwin said the new jobs will focus less on basic installation services for individual products, and more on complex installations and on delivering online support, according to the Associated Press.

Under the new Verizon offering, Geek Squad Agents are available round-the-clock to assist with implementing new technologies or trouble-shooting any end-user issues that may arise. Examples include assisting a medical practice with maintaining the connectivity of its tablets so it can quickly and securely transmit medical records for quality patient care; working with a local retailer in need of malware removal and up to date security patches; or helping a business that needs to synch files from various devices to keep the most up to date customer database.

“Technology innovation continues to unlock value and create revenue opportunities for small and medium businesses, which are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy,” said Janet Schijns, VP vertical solutions and channels for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “Our new offering allows business owners to tap into today’s sophisticated wireless and advanced technologies with the peace of mind that trusted tech support is readily available anytime the need arises.”

The new program adds Geek Squad support to Verizon’s leading IT platforms such as mobility and security to give customers the tools they need to enable the most up-to-date technology to compete and grow their businesses.

“The relationship we’ve established with Verizon is a good example of how Geek Squad is taking things deeper with customers, and finding new ways to reach them," said George Sherman, senior VP Best Buy Services. “Verizon will use Geek Squad’s expanding remote support capability along with our other support channels to ensure that customers receive trusted IT guidance whenever and wherever they need it.”

All Help Desk levels of service include 24/7 phone and online support, where Geek Squad Agents can be engaged for services such as wireless connectivity, virus definition updates, malware removal and software updates. Advanced support adds services for mobilizing a workforce with tablets and smartphones, and virtual private network connectivity and support. Premier goes even further, with proactive support such as device monitoring and system maintenance in addition to application maintenance. Onsite dispatch is also available if the issue cannot be resolved via phone or online assistance.

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