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First Data: Harsh winter cuts into February sales

BY Marianne Wilson

Atlanta — Severe winter weather hindered shopping activity in February, according to First Data Corp.’s SpendTrend report, which tracks same-store POS data by credit and debit cards, closed loop prepaid cards, EBT, and checks from the nearly four million retail locations serviced by First Data.

Consumer spending was also restrained by the termination of emergency unemployment insurance, a reduction in food stamp benefits and low-income growth, First Data said.

Dollar volume growth remained positive at 2.4%, but marked a slight slowdown versus January’s 2.5% growth as severe winter weather lingered into February. Spending growth did gain momentum near the end of the month as temperatures turned warmer and tax refunds increased, especially since refund volumes and values were slightly up versus last year.

Retail spending growth of -0.3% was up from January’s growth of -0.9%, but remained in the red as back-to-back snowstorms hit the Northeast and storms in the South forced store closures. Most retail sub-categories in February posted negative year-over-year growth. Stores benefitted from the inclement weather early in the month as consumers sought out more winter supplies, but also saw strong sales at the end of the month as warmer weather spurred home improvement and spring-related sales. Meanwhile, spending growth at non-store retailers marked the highest growth in a year as consumers shopped from home during severe weather.

Average ticket growth of 0.2% in February slipped slightly versus January’s growth of 0.4%. Meanwhile, retail average ticket growth of 0.1% marched up compared to January’s growth of -0.4% as retailers curtailed aggressive discounting as winter inventories started to clear out and spring goods arrived. Most retail sub-categories saw stronger sequential average ticket growth versus January.

“Consumer spending growth was again unfavorably impacted by severe weather across the nation, which hindered shopping activity for most of the month,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, Information and Analytics Solutions, First Data. “Credit card spending growth continues to be strong as consumer confidence remains pinned near post-recession highs, which has fueled consumers’ appetite for credit and should support more spending growth.”

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Sequential Brands appoints new CMO

BY CSA STAFF

Sequential Brands Group has appointed leading brand strategist Jameel Spencer as chief marketing officer, reporting directly to CEO Yehuda Shmidman.

Spencer will develop and lead all global marketing initiatives for the company’s portfolio of consumer brands which include William Rast, People’s Liberation, DVS, Heelys, Caribbean Joe, Ellen Tracy, Revo and The Franklin Mint.

In addition to his role as CMO, Spencer will continue to work with longtime clients Shawn Carter Enterprises and Sean "Diddy" Combs under his own agency Brand Matter, a subsidiary of Sequential Brands Group.

"We’re thrilled that Jameel Spencer has chosen to join Sequential. Jameel is a highly regarded, strategic marketer, and having him on board will significantly help us capitalize on our momentum and ensure the success of our brands," said Shmidman.

Spencer has served as president of Blue Flame Marketing + Advertising and CMO at Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, where he oversaw all of Sean "Diddy" Combs’ portfolio of brands as well as corporate clients including Calvin Klein, Anheuser Busch, RJ Reynolds, Perry Ellis and Microsoft.

In 2005, he left to join Shawn Carter Enterprises as CMO of Rocawear, where he was responsible for all marketing efforts for the apparel brand, as well as an integral contributor to crafting Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter’s personal brand and associations with corporate partners.

"I’m honored and excited to be working with Yehuda and the management team to take Sequential’s brand portfolio to the next level. I am confident that my background and experiences will add significantly to the platform," said Spencer.

Most recently, Spencer served as EVP of global marketing at Iconix Brand Group, which purchased the Rocawear brand in 2007. Spencer was directly responsible for the marketing efforts of Rocawear, Artful Dodger, Starter, Starter Black, Ocean Pacific, Umbro, Zoo York, Sharper Image, Billionaire Boys Club, Icecream, Ed Hardy, Ecko, Marc Ecko Cut & Sew, Modern Amusement and Roc Nation.

Spencer began his career in media with sales and marketing director positions at Vanguard Media, Vibe and Blaze magazines. He graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and marketing.

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Best new products revealed at IRI Summit

BY CSA STAFF

Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt, Tide Pods and Monster Energy Ultra were recognized as New Product Pacesetters this week as Information Resources (IRI) unveiled the best new products of 2013 at its annual summit.

IRI recognized the top 10 products in three categories, food and beverage, nonfood and convenience store. The “Pacesetter” distinction is impressive given new product launches continue to experience a stubbornly high failure rate. For example, last year IRI said there were 190,000 new UPCs and 9,500 new brand launches at retail. The Pacesetter report offers a look at the best of the best new products that went on to experience exceptional first year sales.

“Manufacturers are always striving to create breakthrough innovation, and our impressive list of the 2013 Pacesetters, which earned an average of $35 million in their first year, is no exception, as these products fuel accelerated growth and serve as catalysts for excitement in the CPG arena,” said Larry Levin, EVP and practice leader at IRI. “New product innovation is more important than just dollars, though. It builds excitement, buzz and competitive advantage. Successful new products can establish and protect category leadership, as well as help companies break into entirely new categories. In short, they are game changers for CPG companies and consumers alike.”

Click here to view the top 10 products in each of the three categories and the full Pacesetter report.

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