FINANCE

First Data Black Friday report: Charged purchases increased 6.3% over last year

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Atlanta — A report released Thursday by First Data Corp., which tracks same-store consumer spending via credit, signature debit, PIN debit and EBT cards at U.S. merchant locations, found that dollar volume for the Thursday-Friday shopping period grew 6.3% over last year, and transaction growth was 7.3%.

The First Data SpendTrend analysis showed that Electronic/Appliances, Clothing and Accessory Stores, and NonStore Retailers were some of the merchant categories that saw a boost in dollar volume growth this year.

Cyber Monday continued the spending trend of the Thanksgiving weekend, with e-commerce year-over-year dollar volume growth of nearly 20%.

Aggressive promotions resulted in lower average ticket values. Overall year-over-year average ticket growth was 0.7%, while average ticket growth at Retailers declined 0.9%. Significant discounting at Electronic/Appliances stores and General Merchandise Stores (including Value Retail) were the main contributors to the lower average ticket growth within the Retail category.

Non-Retail discretionary merchants did quite well also, according to the report. Food Service/Drinking Places (including Restaurants and Quick Service Restaurants) dollar volume growth was 11.7%, versus 9.6% last year.

“The holiday spending season is off to a good solid start. Consumers definitely responded to the early openings and discount prices on Black Friday.” said Silvio Tavares, senior VP and division manager of First Data Global Information and Analytics Solutions, which publishes SpendTrend. “We continued to see strong momentum through Cyber Monday.”

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FINANCE

Zumiez profit increases 15% in Q3

BY Staff Writer

Everett, Wash. — Zumiez Inc. reported Thursday that net income for the quarter ended Oct. 29 rose 14.8% to $14.1 million, from $12.3 million in the prior fiscal year.

Revenue climbed 13.3% to $154 million from $135.9 million, and same-store sales grew 6%.

“We are pleased with the current pace of growth for our business and believe our product assortment has us well positioned for the remainder of the holiday selling period," said Rick Brooks, CEO.

The company has opened all 45 new stores planned in fiscal 2011, including its first stores in Canada.

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OPERATIONS

Kronos Retail Labor Index hits three-year high

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chelmsford, Mass. — A report released Thursday by Kronos Inc. found that hiring in the retail sector continues to make marked improvements. The Kronos Retail Labor Index, which analyzes the current state of the demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector, rose to 4.2% in November 2011, from a downwardly revised 3.5% in October. This was the highest reading since October 2008 and the second reading of 4% or higher in the last three months.

The Index is defined as the ratio of hires to applicants within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.

“This increase in November hires relative to the recent trend could suggest that retailers are cautiously optimistic about upcoming holiday sales,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which analyzes the data.

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample made 34,491 hires (seasonally adjusted) in November 2011, up 7.1% from a downwardly revised 32,205 hires in October 2011. The level of hires in November was roughly 8% above the 2010 average, continuing to indicate modest improvement following sharp declines during the recession.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample declined 10.8% to 812,673 in November 2011, from an upwardly revised 911,552 in October 2011.

The 60-day retention rate, measured as the number of hires who remain employed for at least the first 60 days divided by the total number of hires made in that month, edged up to 84.4% in July from 83.3% in June.

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