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IBM forecasts strong and early holiday for consumer electronics and appliances sales

BY CSA STAFF

Armonk, N.Y. Holiday sales of consumer electronics and appliances in U.S. retail stores are expected to get an early start this year, with consumers spending a larger-than-usual share in November, according to an analytics-based forecast produced by IBM.

Sales of consumer electronics and appliances are predicted to total $10.164 billion this November, representing a 4% increase over November 2009, according to the forecast. The November 2010 forecast breaks down as follows: $8.688 billion for consumer electronics and $1.476 billion for appliances.

In December, sales of consumer electronics and appliances are predicted to total $13.800 billion, up 4% over December 2009, according to the forecast. The December 2010 forecast breaks down as follows: $12.197 billion for consumer electronics and $1.603 billion for appliances.

This year, the sales momentum going from October into November is expected to be much stronger than in previous years, while the momentum from November to December is forecast to be weaker than in the past.

“The forecast indicates that retailers should be ready for a robust Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” said Global Business Services partner and IBM retail analytics leader Michael Haydock. “Retailers that staff up and stock up for November and invest in advertising are likely to have a substantial advantage in the marketplace.”

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Consumer Sentiment Index declined in October

BY CSA STAFF

Ann Arbor, Mich. — The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment, released Friday, showed that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly declined in October, with Americans more pessimistic about current economic conditions.

The index decreased to 67.9, the lowest since July, from 68.2 in September.

Unemployment projected to remain above 9% through next year may keep weighing on sentiment and make Americans reluctant to ramp up their spending, which accounts for 70% of the economy.

The Thomson Reuters sentiment index averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007 and has yet to reach that level since the recovery began in June 2009.

Separate figures from the Labor Department on Friday showed consumer prices rose 0.1% in September, less than forecast. The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales climbed more than forecast in September; spending rose 0.6% following a 0.7% gain in August that was larger than previously estimated.

Consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, rose to 64.6 from 60.9, which was the lowest since March 2009, according to the Friday sentiment index.

The survey’s measure of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket items such as cars, dropped to 73, the lowest since November, from 79.6 in the previous month.

Other index results showed that consumers expect an inflation rate of 2.6% over the next 12 months, compared with 2.2% projected in September.

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Target renovates Chicago area stores to new layout

BY CSA STAFF

Minneapolis — Target announced that more than 55 of its stores in the Chicago area have been redesigned to further deliver one-stop shopping convenience for guests. The stores have been updated to feature the retailer’s open-market grocery layout, with an expanded selection of fresh produce, fresh meat and baked goods.

In addition to the expanded fresh food layout, the beauty department displays softer lighting and curved fixtures, as well as interactive screens to help guests select the right beauty products for their individual needs. The home department has added wider aisles and lower product fixtures offering easier navigation and enabling guests to see more of the department at a glance.

The shoe department provides better product visibility and has enhanced guest comfort by adding more seating and mirrors. Finally, the electronics department has added a fun, interactive environment with video games displayed on a unique tether system, allowing guests to browse and try games at their convenience.

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