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The demographics of consumer demand

BY CSA STAFF

Details are beginning to emerge from the 2010 census offering retailers a new source of consumer insights to guide merchandising strategies. For example, the percentage of married couples compared with 10 years ago continues to decline, while the age at which people get married has increased, and the average household size has declined slightly, according to data from the Census Bureau’s 2010 Current Population Survey contained in America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2010.   

The median age at first marriage for men is now 28.2 compared to 26.8 a decade ago and the comparable figures for women are 26.1 compared to 25.1 a decade ago. The percentage of adults who are married now stands at 54.1% compared with 57.35 in 2000, while the average household size has declined to 2.59 from 2.62, due in part to a rise in the number of one person households, which now stands at 27%, compared with 25% in 2000 and only 13% in 1960.

While the census report talks about the “average” household, the data reveals that description applies to a smaller and smaller percentage. Today, only 21% of households are headed by a married couple who have children living with them under the age of 18, down from 24% a decade earlier. Meanwhile, only 66% of children now live in a household with two married parents compared with 69% a decade earlier.

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J.C. Penney Q3 profit rises 63%

BY CSA STAFF

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney reported a better-than-expected increase in third-quarter profit Friday, crediting controlled costs and positive response to its newest exclusive brands, which include Liz Claiborne and MNG by Mango, and its Sephora in-store cosmetic boutiques.

The chain posted a profit of $44 million in the period ended Oct. 30, compared with $27 million a year ago. Total sales increased 0.2% to $4.19 billion, up from $4.18 billion in the third quarter last year. Same-store sales rose 1.9%.

“We planned for our new merchandising initiatives to begin to take hold in the second half, and it’s playing out this way. At the same time, our strengths in sourcing, and planning and allocation have allowed us to offer very sharp price points and to flow inventory into our stores in a way that reflects the ongoing trend of customers buying closer to need. Even including the impact of our strategic decision to wind down our catalog business, our improving sales combined with our focus on managing expenses allowed us to maintain strong profitability,” said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and CEO, J.C. Penney.

Overall, the strongest merchandise results were in shoes and men’s apparel, and geographically, the best performances were in the southeast and southwest regions of the country, Ullman said.

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Tommy Hilfiger Europe automates payments process with software from Sterling Commerce

BY CSA STAFF

Barcelona, Spain — Tommy Hilfiger Europe has selected an electronic invoicing software from IBM to reduce the cost of cross-border and domestic trading by automating its electronic invoicing processes.

Tommy Hilfiger’s accounts receivable department processes more than 30,000 invoices per month from 4,000 customers. The company wanted to improve profits by ensuring all invoices are processed accurately in order to be paid on-time and in-full. An end-to-end audit of accounts receivables processes found that invoices cost approximately one Euro each to print and post internationally.

Additional costs were incurred in the manual process through lost receipts and man-hours needed to rectify errors and chase-up receipts.

To achieve its objectives, Tommy Hilfiger adopted software from Sterling Commerce, an IBM company, to automate its payments process, reduce the error rate in its invoice handling and speed up payments.

“To us, e-invoicing is the future of invoicing and we wish to be among the first companies in our industry to offer this service to our customers,” said Frederick Kolff, VP of credit management, Tommy Hilfiger. “Software from Sterling Commerce offers a terrific solution that improves the speed, accuracy and efficiency of our invoicing process and ensures compliance with all safety and auditing regulations in the various countries where we operate. As a result, our invoicing costs will reduce and our days sales outstanding will improve. Equally important to us is that we can have a positive impact on the environment from e-invoicing due to the huge amount of paper we will save.”

The software, Sterling e-Invoicing, ensures automated tax and regulatory compliance across multiple countries. The system also archives invoices to meet specific country requirements, offers audit and reporting tools to accommodate tax authorities’ audit and inquiry demands and provides signed PDF authentication and non-repudiation services globally.

Sterling e-Invoicing can be deployed on-premise or as-a-service. Tommy Hilfiger opted for the on-premise Sterling e-Invoicing deployment to integrate tightly into its SAP system.

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