FINANCE

Deloitte: June Consumer Spending Index shows promise

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – U.S. consumers are positioned to spend more in the coming months based on several favorable economic indicators seen in June. The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index for June 2013, which comprises four components of tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices, increased to 4.3 from a reading of 4.2 the previous month. Continued improvement in real home prices and initial unemployment claims drove Index performance.

Following is a summary of the four main components of the Index:

Tax Burden: The tax rate is up from last year, and is now at 12%.

Initial Unemployment Claims: Claims moved down nearly 7% from May 2012 to 348,000 in May 2013.

Real Wages: Hourly real wages remained relatively flat at $8.81.

Real New Home Prices: Real new home prices climbed 9.2% from this time last year to reach $113,833.

Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader, cautioned retailers that despite improving economic conditions and spending patterns, consumers still expect to get a good deal when making a retail purchase.

“A cooler-than-usual spring left some retailers to rely on markdowns to make room for back-to-school items,” said Paul. “Retailers can use attractive offers, one-of-a kind events for children and teens, and promotions to help encourage parents to shop their brands this back-to-school season. Moreover, retailers should link their marketing messages across their store, mobile, and social channels to get consumers in the door in July and keep the momentum going through the summer.”

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Former Honeywell exec heads to Topco

BY CSA STAFF

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — Topco Associates has appointed Danell O’Neill as the company’s director of corporate communications. She will report directly to president and CEO Randy Skoda.

O’Neill will be responsible for developing and executing Topco’s strategic internal and external communications. She has worked with Topco as a corporate communications consultant for the past 18 months, partnering with Topco’s leadership team to craft messages that reinforce Topco’s vision and strategic direction, as well as to direct content creation for the company’s annual membership conference.

“We are pleased to have Danell leading our corporate communications team,” said Skoda. “Her extensive experience in strategic communications planning, change management and public relations will help further communicate the value of Topco’s initiatives and products to our members while also driving key internal efforts. Communication to our members is vital to our collective success, and Danell will help us take our communication outreach to the next level.”

For the past seven years, O’Neill was a managing partner of a consulting company. Prior to that, she held communications roles at Honeywell, Accenture and the Nielsen Company where she was VP of corporate communications. O’Neill holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations from Illinois State University.

Topco Associates is a privately held company that provides aggregation, innovation and knowledge management solutions for leading food industry member-owners and customers. Topco leverages the collective volume, knowledge and commitment of these companies to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace by reducing costs and offering winning business-building capabilities.

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FINANCE

NRF: Back-to-school spending will drop

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – Compared to a record-breaking back-to-school shopping season in 2012, this year’s back-to-school season will not be as impressive. New figures from the NRF and Prosper Insights show that families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down about 8% from $688.62 last year. Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion.

The biggest portion of back-to-school shoppers’ budgets will go toward new apparel and accessories, as 95.3% of back-to-school shoppers will spend an average of $230.85 on clothing. In addition, families will spend large portions of the back-to-school budgets on shoes ($114.39) and school supplies ($90.49).

Only 55.7% of back-to-school shoppers will purchase electronics, and tablet and smartphone shoppers will spend an average of $199.05, down almost 9% from $217.88 last year. Eight-in-10 back-to-school shoppers say the economy is affecting their purchase decisions and 36.6% plan to do more comparative shopping online, while 18.5% intend to shop online more often.

About 24% of back-to-school shoppers have already started making purchases, up almost 10% from roughly 22% last year and the highest percentage in the NRF study’s 11-year history.

“The good news is that consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind. Having splurged on their growing children’s needs last year, parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for the upcoming school season.” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “As they continue to grapple with the impact of increased payroll taxes, Americans will look to cut corners where they can, but will buy what their kids need. It’s important to note, however, that spending levels are still well above where they were a few years ago.”

In addition, college students and their families will spend an average $836.83 on apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and more, down almost 8% from $907.22 last year. Total spending for back-to-college is expected to reach $45.8 billion.

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