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First Data: April impacted by early Easter, but spring outlook is positive

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Atlanta — A Wednesday report by First Data found that April sales were negatively impacted by a March Easter, but that there has been an earlier start to the spring spending season.

According to First Data’s SpendTrend report, comparing April 2012 same-store consumer spending via credit, signature debit, PIN debit and EBT cards to the same period last year, the earlier Easter drew some purchases into March, while the unseasonably warm winter also pulled forward sales of spring merchandise. Higher wages and reduced consumer savings contributed to increased discretionary spending.

Overall year-over-year dollar volume growth was 5.7% in April, down from March’s 8.7% growth. Transaction growth slowed to 5.8% in April, down from 9.3% in March.

Despite the slowdown in overall year-over-year dollar volume and transaction growth, several discretionary spending categories, including Hotels, Travel and Restaurants, posted strong dollar volume growth in April.

And, although overall average ticket growth was slightly negative in April at -0.1%, it out-performed March’s -0.6% growth.

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Kohl’s Q1 profit disappoints; on track to open 10, remodel 50 stores in 2011

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Menomonee Falls, Wis. — Kohl’s Corp. reported Thursday that first-quarter profit fell 23% on aggressive price cuts, falling to $154 million from $201 million in the year-ago period. Results met internal expectations and goals, but missed Wall Street estimates.

Sales for the quarter ended April 28 edged up 1.9% to $4.2 billion, meeting analysts’ estimates. Same-store sales inched up 0.2%.

According to CEO Kevin Mansell, the department store retailer is adjusting inventories and managing expense to position Kohl’s for sales improvements for the fall season, although the second-quarter profit outlook has been lowered.

Kohl’s said it is on track to open 10 more stores this fall, as well as remodel another 50 in 2012.

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Investment in online pays off

BY CSA STAFF

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Walmart has put a considerable amount of time an effort into its digital business, and that appears to have been well worth it as the company achieved an 82, from a prior-year score of 79, on ForeSee’s 2012 rating of Internet retailers. Achieving an 82 is impressive, as a score of 80 is the minimim needed to be considered "superior." The survey scored all retailers on the list out of a 100.

With the lowest score on the list being 69 and the highest being 89, achieved by Amazon.com, most retailers on the list had a score in the 70s, while 36 on the list earned the distinction of scoring 80 or higher. The scores are based on a 100-point scale.

“We’re measuring the biggest players in the game, and they just keep getting better and better. Because customer satisfaction, as we measure it, is predictive, that’s a good sign not only for the consumer experience, but for the bottom line of internet retailers as well,” said study author Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “If there’s a negative spin to these positive trends, it is that this puts even more pressure on all other e-retailers to keep up or catch up.”

No online retailer seems to come close to Amazon.com, which climbed three points to 89 to top the list, and is four points higher than the second highest scoring websites, Apple.com (85) and QVC.com (85).

“Amazon continues to set the standard for e-retailers. The truth is that every consumer who has visited Amazon knowingly or unknowingly benchmarks all other experiences against it, and why wouldn’t they? They do everything and they do it well,” said Freed.

Measuring customer satisfication is subjective, so to achieve its list, ForeSee uses individual satisfaction scores for the top 100 e-retailers by revenue as measured by Internet Retailer, quantifies the likely future behaviors of website visitors, including their likelihood to purchase online or offline and proxies for loyalty such as likelihood to return to the site or recommend. When compared to dissatisfied customers, highly satisfied website visitors—those who score their experience 80 or higher—report being 72% more likely to purchase from that retailer’s website and 56% more likely to make the purchase through another channel.

“Highly satisfied website visitors are nearly 70% more likely to recommend the website to others than dissatisfied customers. In the modern world of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, it is even more imperative to provide the best experience possible to your customers because any experience has huge potential to be amplified, for better or for worse,” said Freed.

To view the complete list, click here.

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