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First Data Report: Spending growth slowed in May

BY Staff Writer

Atlanta — A report released Thursday by First Data Corp. said that consumer spending growth slowed in May as concerns about the economy mounted.

According to the First Data SpendTrend analysis for the full month of May 2011, which tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations, year-over-year dollar volume growth slowed to 6.6%, the lowest monthly growth rate in 2011.

Year-over year transaction growth of 5.1% represented the slowest growth over the past 12 months.

Average ticket values increased 1.4% year-over-year in May, a slight uptick from April and the largest increase in over a year. Excluding gasoline stations, average tickets increased 0.5%. Most industries except food/beverage stores and food services/drinking places saw increased average tickets.

“Card spending growth slowed in May,” said Silvio Tavares, senior VP and division manager of First Data Information and Analytics Solutions. “High gas prices and stubbornly high unemployment constrained growth in most merchant categories.”

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RECon Revisited: A Series: Part 3

BY Katherine Boccaccio

As part three of our ongoing coverage of RECon, the annual retail real estate convention conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers and held May 22-25 in Las Vegas, Chain Store Age talked with Joe Boehm, senior VP, retail leasing, of Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises, regarding his impressions of RECon 2011 and what Forest City projects garnered the most attention at the show.

What impression of the state of the industry were you left with by the end of RECon 2011?
After Recon 2011, it felt like there was more stability in the industry than in the previous few years. While there is certainly still caution relative to market conditions, there seems to be a feeling that things have bottomed. It feels like we are headed in the right direction, although growth and improvement may be slow and come over time.

What Forest City projects received the greatest interest during the show?
Westchester’s Ridge Hill, a 1.3-million-sq.-ft. open-air retail and entertainment center [in Yonkers, N.Y.], generated the strongest interest since it is one of the few new developments under way in the country and there have been significant enhancements in terms of tenant mix and momentum. Lord & Taylor will anchor the center. Cutting-edge clothiers H&M, Desigual, Republic of Couture, Gap, and Old Navy, and cookware retailer Sur La Table are the six newest tenants to be added to the lineup, which also includes Whole Foods, L.L. Bean, Showcase Cinema De Lux, Dick’s Sporting Goods and REI.

Were your dealmakers actually making deals at RECon?
At this point, our dealmakers believe there was more sincere interest and deal potential at this convention than over the past few years. How many deals will actually be made will become more clear over the course of the next six months. However, we have much more optimism than we have had in recent years that these were concrete deals that will be completed.

What are your priorities as a company for the rest of 2011?
We are focused on continuing to protect and enhance our balance sheet, which means improving liquidity and enhancing the mix of our shopping center portfolio. With select properties in particular, we’re looking to enhance our portfolio with the flight-to-quality theme that is pervasive throughout the retail community.

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Market Track: May 2011

BY CSA STAFF

On average, across the retailer set, both the number of inserts and number of page counts decreased when comparing the month of May 2011 to May 2010. Notable standouts for the insert counts include a decline of 39% for Home Depot and an 11% decrease for Lowe’s. While both Home Depot and Lowe’s dropped fewer inserts this year compared to last year, Home Depot’s decline was more pronounced from nearly seven inserts in 2010 to four in 2011. Interestingly, while home/hardware retailers experienced decreases in number of drops, the number of pages did not parallel the same level of decline. Home Depot’s pages only dropped by 7% and Lowe’s actually increased their average page count by 9% in 2011 compared with 2010. Sears charted the greatest percentage increase in inserts with 37% increase this May over May 2010.

When looking at number of pages, Macy’s, Safeway and Walmart showed the strongest increase in number of pages on a year over year comparison, while Best Buy and CVS decreased their pages by 24% and 18% respectively.

It’s important to note a number of factors that should be considered when examining the number of inserts and pages retailers send into the marketplace. Market Track’s granular level of data reflects regional versioning and market specific differences. This is accomplished through an extensive collections process, including physically obtaining the ads from the various markets in which they are distributed. In the instance that retailers send additional circulars to a limited number of markets, Market Track’s information reflects these nuances through numbers with decimals (for average number of inserts per market) and odd numbers (for average number of pages).

Market Track is a market intelligence firm dedicated to increasing customers’ returns on their promotional investments. Through innovative technology and marketplace expertise, it monitors and analyzes over 200 U.S. and Canadian markets for every channel of trade in order provide retailers and manufacturers with superior tools to monitor promotional activity, support dynamic decision making and turn information into market intelligence. For more information, contact Market Track at 1.800.235.3781 or e-mail [email protected].

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