FINANCE

NRF: Back-to-school spending will drop

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – Compared to a record-breaking back-to-school shopping season in 2012, this year’s back-to-school season will not be as impressive. New figures from the NRF and Prosper Insights show that families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down about 8% from $688.62 last year. Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion.

The biggest portion of back-to-school shoppers’ budgets will go toward new apparel and accessories, as 95.3% of back-to-school shoppers will spend an average of $230.85 on clothing. In addition, families will spend large portions of the back-to-school budgets on shoes ($114.39) and school supplies ($90.49).

Only 55.7% of back-to-school shoppers will purchase electronics, and tablet and smartphone shoppers will spend an average of $199.05, down almost 9% from $217.88 last year. Eight-in-10 back-to-school shoppers say the economy is affecting their purchase decisions and 36.6% plan to do more comparative shopping online, while 18.5% intend to shop online more often.

About 24% of back-to-school shoppers have already started making purchases, up almost 10% from roughly 22% last year and the highest percentage in the NRF study’s 11-year history.

“The good news is that consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind. Having splurged on their growing children’s needs last year, parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for the upcoming school season.” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “As they continue to grapple with the impact of increased payroll taxes, Americans will look to cut corners where they can, but will buy what their kids need. It’s important to note, however, that spending levels are still well above where they were a few years ago.”

In addition, college students and their families will spend an average $836.83 on apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and more, down almost 8% from $907.22 last year. Total spending for back-to-college is expected to reach $45.8 billion.

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Increased product demand evident in Whirlpool’s Q2 results

BY CSA STAFF

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Further signs of the nation’s recovering housing market were evident in Whirlpool Corporation’s reported net earnings of $198 million for the second quarter ended June 30, compared to net earnings of $113 million for the same period last year.

The company’s net sales for the quarter were $4.7 billion, compared to $4.5 billion reported during the same period last year. Excluding the impact of foreign currency as well as Brazilian tax credits, sales increased approximately 6%.

"Sales increased in every region of the world as we continued to expand margins," said Jeff M. Fettig, chairman and CEO of Whirlpool Corporation. "Our financial results reflect increased demand for our innovative products and continued benefits from our margin expansion actions."

The company’s operating profit for the quarter totaled $328 million, compared to $194 million in the prior year. Higher global volume, ongoing cost productivity and the benefit of cost and capacity-reduction initiatives positively impacted results during the quarter.

Whirlpool North America had sales of $2.6 billion for the quarter, compared to $2.5 billion in the prior year, a 5% increase. The region reported operating profit of $262 million, compared to $235 million in the prior year. Higher sales, ongoing productivity improvements and the benefit of cost and capacity-reduction initiatives more than offset higher material costs.

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Coca-Cola elevates Hastie to company VP

BY CSA STAFF

ATLANTA — Coca-Cola’s board of directors has appointed Brent Hastie as the company’s VP. Hastie was recently named VP of strategy and planning, which became effective just a few days ago.

Prior to joining Coca-Cola, Hastie served as an EVP at Bain Capital and as a principal with McKinsey & Company in the consumer packaged goods practice. He first joined Coca-Cola in 2006 and his previous leadership assignments included chief strategy officer for Coca-Cola refreshments; president, active lifestyle brands; and VP, commercial leadership still beverages before being named VP of strategy and planning for the North America Group.

He earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and received an M.B.A. from Harvard University.

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