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First Data: Easter, weather boost consumer spending in April

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta – Consumer year-over-year spending growth of 4.1% gained momentum in April 2014 compared to the prior month’s growth of 3.1%, driven by warmer weather as well as the Easter shift into April this year, according to First Data SpendTrend analysis. The report, which tracks same-store point-of-sale data by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks from nearly four million merchant locations serviced by First Data, shows transaction growth of 3.5% in April, compared to March’s 2.7% growth.

Higher gas prices, an uptick in job creation and a lift in consumer confidence also supported the growth. Gas station spending growth of 3.3% marked the highest growth since July 2013 as gas prices eclipsed the prior year’s levels. Retail spending growth and transaction growth of 1.3% and 2.4% gained traction compared to March’s growth of -0.5% and -1.2%, as the Easter shift pushed holiday retail purchases and related foot traffic into April.

Spending growth at clothing & accessories, stores and health & personal care stores of 1.2% and 0.2%, respectively, spiked compared to the previous month’s growth of -5.0% and -2.4% as shoppers visited these merchants for candy, Easter-themed toys and spring apparel. Dollar volume growth of 3.6% at building material & supply stores slowed slightly from the previous month’s growth of 4.3% but remained healthy as higher temperatures encouraged spending on garden, home construction and outdoor items.

Average ticket growth of 0.5% was up compared to March’s growth of 0.3%, the strongest growth in the past 12 months, driven by an increase in gas and food costs. Gas station average ticket growth was 0.4% vs. -4.1% last month, the highest growth in nine months. Average ticket growth of 1.8% was seen in food & beverage stores, the highest growth in more than a year.

Looking at different methods of payment, credit card dollar volume rose 4.3%, signature debit volume rose 4.5%, PIN debit volume grew 4.1%, prepaid card volume increased 6.9%, and check volume dropped 2.7%.

“Overall spending growth was strong and gained momentum over March as the Easter shift into April and the return of warmer weather encouraged consumers to get out and shop,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, information and analytics solutions, First Data. “Consumer confidence and job creation also bounced back, which put consumers in the mood to release their pent-up demand from the extended winter. We also saw debit spending growth continue to rise, due in large part to higher tax refund values and volumes through April.”

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Tuesday Morning reports strong Q3 results

BY Vivian Lee

Tuesday Morning Corporation’s turnaround efforts paid off in the third quarter ended March 31. The company reported strong comparable store sales performance, increased inventory turnover and improved cash position during the quarter.

The leading closeout retailer that operates 811 stores across the U.S. reported net sales of $182.8 million, an increase of 2.6% compared to $178.1 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2013.

Comparable-store sales increased 6.4% compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2013, and consisted of an 8.4% increase in customer transactions, which was partially offset by a 1.9% decrease in average ticket. Since the last year’s second quarter, the company has exited a number of non-core categories such as women’s apparel and footwear. Comparable sales in ongoing core categories increased 10.5% compared to the third quarter last year.

"During the third quarter we commenced work on the final phase of the company’s turnaround efforts which includes the sell-off of exited categories, further reduction of our clearance merchandise and enhancements to our store layouts,” said CEO Michael Rouleau. “We are pleased with our continued progress and results this quarter, yet remain focused on the significant work ahead to complete the final phase of our turnaround efforts before the holiday selling season."

Tuesday Morning specializes in selling deeply discounted, upscale decorative home accessories, housewares, seasonal goods and famous-maker gifts

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Cache shrinks net loss in Q1

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – A shrinking net loss was the only positive result from the tough first quarter fiscal 2014 numbers posted by Cache Inc. Net loss shrank to $10.8 million from $17.8 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

Cache’s net sales dropped 11% to $47.4 million, from $53.5 million. Same-store sales declined 8.9%, with the shift in Easter contributing. Jay Margolis, chairman and CEO of Cache, tried to strike an encouraging tone.

“We had a disappointing start to the year with strength across our dress assortments more than offset by too narrow of an assortment in key casual bottoms, and the decision not to move forward with certain casual and accessories offerings that were inconsistent with our brand positioning,” said Margolis. “This, along with lower mall traffic throughout the quarter, store closings as a result of winter snowstorms and the later Easter holiday impacted our sales and profitability. To this end, we were pleased with the response to our dress assortments in long, short, day and evening categories. At quarter end, dresses represented 55% of our total sales compared to 44% a year ago.”

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