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Nielsen: Global consumer confidence hits pre-recession levels

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Global consumer confidence in first quarter 2010 rebounded to reach its highest level since third quarter 2007, providing the most definitive sign that the world is beginning to recover from the recession, according to the latest edition of the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index. As the world’s consumers started to spend again, they drove the global index up to 92 points (100 = average) in the first quarter. This represents a six-point increase from six months ago, and only two points short of the 94 point index mark in third quarter 2007, just prior to the decline into world recession. Consumer confidence hit an all-time low of 77 index points in early 2009, following the collapse of the international financial system, before steadily increasing again last year.

Consumer confidence rose in 41 of the 55 countries surveyed during the quarter, with India (127 index points), Indonesia (116), and Norway (115) remaining the world’s most confident nations. Meanwhile, Lithuania (46), Croatia (48), and Portugal (51) were the most pessimistic nations. Taiwan (+14 pts), Singapore (+11), Israel (+10), Mexico (+10) and Colombia (+9) were among the highest increases in consumer confidence in the first quarter, while Greece (-15), in the midst of a financial collapse, recorded the steepest decline.

“For the first time in two years, Nielsen’s global consumer data provides evidence that economic prospects are improving — a sign manufacturers and retailers have been eagerly waiting for that consumer spending intentions are turning into actual spending reality,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of The Nielsen Co.

The survey revealed that the pace and extent of economic recovery has widened between the booming Asia Pacific and Latin American countries compared with the sluggish recovery in the United States and western Europe.

“Asia Pacific consumers — who were among the first to cut back drastically on discretionary spending 18 months ago — are now confident enough to spend their way into higher growth,” said Dr. Bala.

Likewise, in Latin America, while consumers have been cutting back spending on discretionary items, the FMCG industry has been gradually recovering as consumers increase spending on essential goods, according to Nielsen data. In addition, expected GDP growth and lower inflation has renewed optimism in most of the region’s countries.

“In contrast, the United States and Europe are likely to see a period of slow demand growth in conjunction with a largely jobless recovery in the United States, and in the case of Europe, added uncertainty from the ongoing sovereign-debt crisis,” said Dr. Bala. “Due to consumers’ limited household spending, uncovering new areas of growth will be important for retailers. Consumer product companies will require a high degree of precision in targeting, value propositions and pricing in order to generate topline growth and profitability.”

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CSA Editor’s Pick: Levi’s London flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

Levi’s has relaunched its London flagship on Regent Street after a massive facelift that has completely transformed the interior. The refurbished two-level, 8,500-sq.-ft. store aims to tell the story of the craft that goes into Levi’s denim making. The store combines authenticity, craftsmanship and storytelling to deliver a complete brand experience — one that engages customers even as it helps them with the jean-buying experience. All that aside, it’s a pretty cool store.

With a factory-inspired architectural design, the redone Levi’s takes customers on a journey through the brand’s evolution and the history of denim itself. All of the featured materials, which include exposed brick, raw steel, concrete, wood and glass, in some way connect with the essence of the workplace theme.

From the street, customers enter a transition space with reclaimed brick walls that is home to an ever-changing gallery that showcases everything from exclusive product collaborations to art exhibitions. The area works as a bridge between the youthful creativity and the contemporary scene and the artisan workplace.

Customers then move through two sets of huge factory doors to the main-level selling space, home to the latest collections. The space has a clean and industrial look and feel, with furniture and fixtures that are simple, but flexible enough to allow for an ever-changing environment.

A contemporary staircase leads down to the basement level. Backlit glass risers with Levi’s “XX” laser are cut into each tread. Alongside the stairwell is a gallery wall exhibit with a design inspired by glass-fronted storage cabinets. Among the items on display: an original 201 Jean from the 1920s (on loan from Levi’s archives) encased in glass and set against a backdrop of tailor’s patterns. The display speaks volumes about the brand’s longevity and also acts as a visual signpost for the adjacent Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection.

The basement is home to the 501 Jeans warehouse, separated from the rest of the store by floor to ceiling glaze and a mirrored back wall. Some 22 different washes are on display.

Close by is the “Inspection Room,” which is split into zones that allow customers to shop either by fit or finish. To ease the process, key fits and finishes are displayed on tailor’s forms and in illuminated inspection cabinets. A simple-to-follow number and letter navigation system takes customers to stock held in adjacent wall bays.

Among the store’s points of distinction are the fitting rooms, crafted with duck canvas that recalls the original canvas used by Levi Strauss in the 19th century. The doors are scaled versions of the heavyweight industrial doors found at the store entrance. An adjacent display of vintage weaver’s equipment pays homage to the brand’s craft and roots.

Levi’s was designed by Checkland Kindleysides, Cossington, Leicestershire (U.K).

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Costco COO to retire in June

BY CSA STAFF

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Costco Wholesale has announced the retirement of Dick DiCerchio as its senior EVP and COO, effective June 4.

Jim Sinegal, Costco’s CEO, stated: “Dick has made invaluable contributions to the growth of our company, having spent 27 years in all facets of our operations, culminating with his positions as senior EVP and a member of the board of directors. Under his leadership, the company has trained and developed a broad and deep team of executives across the globe. Jeff Brotman, I, our board of directors, and our employees are deeply grateful to Dick for all his contributions to our success and wish him a healthy and productive retirement.”

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