FINANCE

First Data: November card spending growth solid

BY Marianne Wilson

Atlanta — Dollar volume growth remained solid at 5.8% in November, down from 6.7% in October, according to the First Data SpendTrend analysis for the full month of November 2012 compared with November 2011. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.

The growth was considered healthy as November 2011 was a strong month with dollar volume growth of 7.3%, according to First Data. The growth significantly weighted to spending at retailers during the latter half of the month. Although Black Friday retail spending was weaker this year with growth at 8.3% compared to 9.7% last year, overall November dollar volume growth still performed well.

Most retail segments experienced healthy year-over-year dollar volume growth. Overall retail dollar volume growth was 5.6%, a three-month high and a significant jump, compared with the 3.5% growth in October. Year-over-year average ticket growth was -0.2% in November, down from October’s growth of 0.8%. Retail average ticket growth of 2.0% remained relatively stable, which reflects the strengthening position of retail as some merchants are less inclined to drive sales at the expense of margins.

“At first glance, it appears that spending growth is healthy heading into the holiday season,” said Rikard Bandebo, VP and economist, First Data. “However, November 2012 was among the slower growth months this year, so retailers may begin to engage in more competitive pricing to attract shoppers as the holiday season progresses.”

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FINANCE

Casey’s Q2 profit down

BY Marianne Wilson

Ankey, Iowa — Casey’s General Stores Inc.’s reported Monday that its net income declined nearly 13% in its fiscal second quarter on lower sales of gasoline, groceries and cigarettes.

Casey’s made $32.9 million in the quarter ended Oct. 31, down from $37.6 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue rose 7.2% to $1.91 billion. Same-store sales of gasoline fell 0.4%, while sales of merchandise dropped 0.7%. Cigarette sales were hurt by competitive pricing and an increase in an Illinois state excise tax, CEO Robert J. Myers said in a statement.

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OPERATIONS

Survey finds increased IT hiring projections

BY Marianne Wilson

Menlo park, Calif. — Technology executives expect information technology hiring to increase in first quarter 2013, according to the just-released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report.

In the latest quarterly survey, 17% of chief information officers (CIOs) said they plan to expand their IT departments, and 8% expect cutbacks, for a net 9% projected increase in hiring activity. This is up six points from the previous quarter’s projections. Seventy-five percent of CIOs plan to maintain their current staffing levels.

The report is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees. The survey is conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.

Other key findings include:

  • Sixty-three percent of CIOs said it’s somewhat or very challenging to find skilled professionals today, up nine points from the previous quarter.
  • Eighty-seven percent of CIOs are somewhat or very confident in their companies’ growth prospects in the next three months.
  • Nearly half (49%) of technology executives expressed confidence that their firms will be investing in IT projects in the first quarter.

“CIOs report higher demand for IT professionals in the first quarter, especially for those with skills in hot areas such as applications development and IT security,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “In the new year, we often see increased hiring as firms’ budgets for 2013 have been approved and they are able to hire additional personnel.”

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