OPERATIONS

Home Depot to hire 60,000+ seasonal associates in spring

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta — The Home Depot said Tuesday it will hire more than 60,000 seasonal associates in time for the company’s second annual Spring Black Friday event.

The retailer will implement the spring promotion market-by-market over four different weekends in the spring. The event marks the start of home improvement’s busiest shopping season.

Home Depot said it will hire and train the new seasonal associates in every market during the months of February and March to prepare for the annual promotion. Additionally, the retailer said it will be adding net new permanent full-time and part-time positions to its stores for the second year in a row.

"As we have stated in the past, spring is our Christmas and traffic is at its highest during this season," said Craig Menear, executive VP merchandising. "Hiring seasonal associates and offering door busting deals will ensure our customers have all of the service, know-how and value they need as they look to take on outdoor projects to improve the appearance of their home."

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FINANCE

January sales up, but less than expected

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — A report released Tuesday by the U.S. Commerce Department said sales at U.S. retailers edged up 0.3% in January, less than the expected 0.5% to 0.6% increase, but still the seventh straight month of gains. A series of snow storms that hit much of the country throughout the month was cited as one of the factors for the weaker showing.

"Seventy percent of the country was covered by snow in January so, if anything, it’s a miracle the consumer didn’t just hibernate," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo/Mitsubishi UFJ in New York, in a Reuters report.

Sales for December were slightly revised down to growth of 0.5% from a previously reported 0.6%.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected retail sales to increase 0.6% in January. Compared with January last year, sales were up 7.8%.

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News

ACSI shows customer satisfaction remains strong

BY CSA STAFF

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— The American Customer Satisfaction Index has dropped just 0.1% from the previous quarter to 75.9 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale, indicating that customers satisfaction remains strong, the ACSI reported.

“As long as unemployment remains high and credit tight, it is difficult to see how we can get to asustainable pace of consumer spending growth,” said Professor Claes Fornell, head of the ACSIand author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. “But it is not all bad: the ‘will to spend’ is evidenced by high customer satisfaction. The issue iswhether or not consumers have the ‘means to spend.’ The recent news about the decline inunemployment and the rise in manufacturing hiring may not only lead to more people working,but may also dampen the fear of job loss. If so, the means to spend will face less of a hurdle.”

According to the index, customer satisfaction with the retail sector, which includes department and discount stores,specialty retail stores, supermarkets, gas stations, and health and personal care stores, gains 1.3%to an ACSI score of 76.2.

Nordstrom maintains its lead among department and discount stores, rising 4% to an alltime high of 83. Several other retailers post large gains, including Target (+4% to 80), DollarGeneral (+5% to 79) and Dillard’s (+4% to 78). Macy’s is notable for bucking the positive trend. Its ACSI score falls 4% to an industry low of 71.

Among specialty retailers, Barnes & Noble stands out, leading for a third straight year with ascore of 84. Office supply retailers rebound from a year ago, with OfficeMax making the biggestmove, up 4% to 77 to tie Staples (+1%). Office Depot follows close behind (+1% to 76).

Home Depot improves for a second straight year, gaining 3% to 72. The improvement isnot enough to move Home Depot up from the bottom of the specialty retail category or to closethe gap with rival Lowe’s, which gains 4%t to an all-time high ACSI score of 79.

Supermarkets are unchanged for a third straight year with an ACSI score of 76.Publix has been in the lead since 1994 and thisyear is no exception: the supermarket chain improves 5% to 86, its highest score ever.

Safeway moves in the opposite direction one year after undertaking a large-scale store makeover. Its customer satisfaction retreats 4% to 72.

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