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July spending hits 11-month high

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta – Retail spending growth was at an 11-month high in July as summer vacation travel led strong spending during the month, according to data reported by payment technology and services provider First Data Corporation. The First Data SpendTrend analysis looked at the period July 1 through 31, 2014, compared to July 2 through Aug. 1, 2013.

SpendTrend 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 in the U.S. Overall retail spending growth was at its strongest levels in a year as nearly all retail categories turned in improved numbers. Led by categories such as building material & garden equipment and furniture & home furnishings, the growth suggests the impact of fewer foreclosures and increased construction. Still, consumers remained hesitant to make big ticket and non-essential purchases.

July’s dollar volume growth of 3.9% was robust, marking an improvement from June’s growth of 3%. A year-over-year spending uptick was driven by hotel and travel categories, where dollar volume growth was 7.9% and 4.6%, respectively, as travelers went on holiday around the globe. Positive growth at food and beverage stores, at 5.3% and in the food services & drinking places category, at 4.4%, also contributed to July’s growth.

All regions across the U.S. saw positive dollar volume growth and, with the exception of New England, all regions experienced stronger sequential spending growth. Spending growth of 5.5% and 4.3% in the Midwest and West regions remained strong, up from June’s growth of 3.9% and 3.2%. The Midwest region saw the strongest spending growth, possibly due to nonfarm employment increasing faster in the Midwest than in other regions.

July’s average ticket growth of 1.5% (vs. 0.9% in June) was the strongest monthly growth all year, supported by average ticket growth in categories such as food and beverage stores, which saw growth of 2.0%. Retail average ticket growth of 0.4% in July was a slight increase from June’s negative growth of -.2% as fewer retailers engaged in clearance promotions.

On a same-store basis, dollar volume of credit card transactions rose 6.2%, while volume of PIN debit transactions grew 3.9% and prepaid card transaction volume increased 3.3%. Signature debit card transaction volume increased 0.4% and the dollar volume of check transactions dropped 5.7%.

“It is also notable that both credit spending growth, which was 6.2% in July, and credit transaction growth, at 7.5% this month, were up significantly over June growth results,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, Information and Analytics Solutions, First Data. “That growth was driven by the categories we’ve detailed in this report, where credit is the preferred method of payment. Consumers are once again motivated to travel, while those who opted for ‘staycations’ increased spending in home-related categories. Looking ahead, we anticipate August’s back-to-school sales and state tax-free holidays should spur spending growth in related categories.”

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Gap launches @GapKids social promotion

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco — Gap is launching the inaugural GapKids Class of 2014, a social media contest inviting parents to submit photos of their kids for the chance to be featured in a 2015 GapKids marketing campaign. This is Gap’s next generation of Casting Call, a marketing program that lasted six years.

Everyone who enters will receive a socially sharable moving image video of their child that encapsulates the GapKids aesthetic. In addition to sharing social content, Gap has built a new @GapKids social network as a place for parents to explore content on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

As part of the submission process, Gap is asking parents to submit three charismatic photos of their child between now and Sept. 15. After a submission is processed, parents will be emailed a 15-second video of their child’s photos. Photos can be submitted through Instagram, Facebook, mobile phone or desktop.

During the month of October, a panel of Gap judges in each global region will narrow down the field of submissions to 20 finalists – 10 babies/toddlers (five girls and five boys) for babyGap and 10 kids (five girls and five boys) for GapKids. Parents of regional finalists will receive a questionnaire to fill out for additional content needs. In November, the four winners of each region will be announced on the Gap digital channels. The winners will participate in a photoshoot taking place in their region and they will be featured in a Gap marketing campaign in early 2015.

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Supervalu launches national sales expo

BY Dan Berthiaume

Eden Prairie, Minn. – Supervalu Inc. is hosting the company’s first-ever national sales expo, a three-day trade event, in St. Paul, Minnesota. The expo will feature more than 20 educational sessions and more than 330 expo booths, providing more than 3,900 independent grocery retailers from more 1,250 stores the opportunity to gain insights, merchandising ideas and grocery retail solutions from industry experts.

Seasonal merchandise offerings, consumer packaged goods suppliers and service providers from across the country will offer solutions for Supervalu’s independent retailer base. Expo guests will also have exclusive access to new products and Supervalu’s private brand lines, as well as limited-time promotional buying opportunities.

Supervalu has also launched a mobile app to assist attendees with an event map, a schedule of educational sessions and activities, articles related to topics discussed throughout the event and more.

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