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First Data: June spending growth slows

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta — Consumer spending slowed in June but remained positive on a year-over-year basis with a growth of 3%, according to First Data SpendTrend analysis, 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.

While spending in travel and hotel slowed from the previous month, growth was still strong in these sectors, with a year-over-year increase of 4.9% and 7.1%, respectively. Food and beverage stores spending was up 4.7% compared to May’s 4.2% growth, a trend reflecting an increase in food costs.

Retail spending growth retreated slightly in June compared to May but remained positive with 1.2% growth; while 5.7% growth in building and gardening materials and 1.5% growth in furniture and home furnishings reflect continued improvement in the housing market. However, a slowly declining unemployment rate caused consumers to remain hesitant and kept overall retail spending growth moderate.

Average ticket growth also decreased slightly from May but remained positive at 0.9% growth on a year-over-year basis, reflecting increased food and gas prices. Food and drinking places and food and beverage stores saw a growth of 2.5% and 1.5%, respectively, as rising food costs impacted the average ticket in these categories for consumers.

Finally, credit spending continued to be the preferred spending method in June with a 5.3% increase in transaction growth and a 3.9% dollar volume growth. The increase in transaction volume was supported by year-over-year growth in categories such as hotel and travel, where consumers tend to utilize this payment method most.

“This month’s trends showed some slowing in spending growth but overall, spending remains healthy, reflecting the recovering economy and consumer willingness to spend compared to the same time last year,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, information and analytics solutions, First Data. “An increase in credit usage reflects steady growth in credit lending, improved consumer credit quality and a growing consumer confidence in their personal finances.”

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Tracy Morgan sues Wal-Mart for negligence in crash

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Comedian Tracy Morgan has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores claiming the company was negligent in a June 2014 automobile accident involving one of its truck drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike. On June 7, Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper, 35, allegedly swerved to miss an auto on the New Jersey Turnpike and instead struck a limousine bus carrying Morgan and several associates.

The accident left Morgan, who was released from a rehabilitation center to continue recovering at home on July 12, critically injured and killed one of Morgan’s associates, comedian James McNair. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey, on June 10, seeks unspecified damages.

“Wal-Mart knew or should have known that its drivers were routinely fatigued, thus putting themselves and others on the road in danger, because in addition to working long shifts driving trucks, they regularly commuted hundreds of miles to get to work,” states Morgan’s complaint.

Roper was charged with four counts of assault by auto and one count of death by auto. New Jersey State Police are investigating the crash, which also caused a chain reaction accident with another tractor trailer truck, an SUV and two cars. No passengers in any of the other cars were injured.

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3M names new chief innovation officer

BY CSA STAFF

Dr. Ashish K. Khandpur is 3M’s new SVP of research and development and chief technology officer, a role that carries high innovation expectations at a company with a reputation for game-changing product development.

Khandpur fills a position previously held by Dr. Frederick Palensky who retired after a 37 year career with the company. Khandpur joined 3M in 1995 in the company’s adhesive technology center in St. Paul, Minn. He earned multiple promotions within 3M’s central research laboratories before moving to the company’s office supplies division laboratory. In 2006, the native of India relocated to 3M India to establish and lead the company’s first local laboratory. He subsequently served as technical director for 3Ms industrial and transportation business in Asia Pacific, and in 2012, he was appointed vp of research and development for the worldwide industrial and transportation business. Khandpur’s most recent leadership role was vp and general manager for 3M’s personal safety division.

“Ashish is a highly accomplished and respected leader with a proven track record of success across multiple 3M businesses and geographic regions," said Inge G. Thulin, 3M’s chairman, president and CEO. “As our chief technology officer, his global experience is a huge asset and I am confident that he will lead our research and development teams to even greater success in the future.”

Khandpur earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering with a specialization in polymers from the University of Minnesota.

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