FINANCE

NRF exploring legal options after preliminary approval of swipe fee deal

BY Staff Writer

Washington — The National Retail Federation on Friday said it will explore all legal options following a judge’s preliminary approval of a proposed class-action settlement of an antitrust lawsuit over the $30 billion a year in credit card swipe fees charged by Visa and MasterCard.

“We respectfully disagree with the court’s assessment of the proposed settlement,” NRF senior VP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “We do not believe the proposal meets the legal tests required to meet even preliminary approval. Retailers, their customers and competition would suffer irreparable harm if this one-sided deal is allowed to move forward. We will consult with our attorneys and act as soon as possible to correct this injustice.”

U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson gave preliminary approval to the proposed settlement following oral arguments Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y. Among attorneys presenting their cases were lawyers for NRF, which last week filed a brief in opposition to the settlement on behalf of itself, 17 retail and restaurant companies, and two other trade associations.

NRF is not a party to the lawsuit, but its members and the companies named in the brief would be affected if the case is approved as a class action. Arguments were also heard on briefs filed by other opponents, including retailers and associations who were parties to the suit but who have rejected the proposal.



NRF argued in its brief that the settlement could not legally be certified as a class action because it attempts to force a one-size-fits-all solution onto a wildly diverse group of merchants. It also argued that a provision barring all retailers – including those who opt out of the settlement and even those who do not yet exist – from filing future lawsuits over swipe fees is impermissibly broad under federal law.

In addition, the proposal allows retailers to reject payments offered as compensation for past price-fixing but gives no mechanism to opt out of flawed injunctive relief that would allow card companies to continuing price fixing and fee increases in the future.



NRF said it opposes the settlement because it fails to reform the cartel-like system where Visa and MasterCard set a rigid schedule of swipe fees that all banks follow. It does nothing to disclose the hidden fees or otherwise create transparency that would encourage competition that would lead to lower fees. Merchant bargaining groups could be recognized, but that is no change from current law. And while some merchants would theoretically be given the right to surcharge as a bargaining chip to hold down fees, the provision is subject to a wide variety of card company restrictions, would be illegal in 10 states, and ignores the goal of merchants to reduce prices paid by their customers.

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FINANCE

First Data: Card spending growth robust in October

BY Marianne Wilson

Atlanta — Hurricane Sandy impacted spending in the Northeast, according to First Data’s most recent SpendTrend report, which analyzed date for the full month of October 2012 compared with October 2011. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.

The October report found that despite political uncertainty (data was compiled prior to the election) and the looming fiscal cliff, consumer spending was healthy in October. For the first time since July, credit dollar volume grew faster than PIN and Signature debit. Credit dollar volume growth was 8.9%, a healthy uptick compared with 2.3% last month. The slower growth in debit was largely driven by restrained spending in categories such as general merchandise stores where debit cards are the typical payment method.

“Consumers appear to be in a favorable spending mood heading into the holiday season due to recovering housing prices, slight job gains and modest income growth which has buoyed consumer confidence,” said Rikard Bandebo, VP and economist, First Data. “However, consumers are also reducing their savings to support spend which suggests that current growth rate will not be sustainable in the long term without substantial improvement in the economy.”

In other findings:

• Dollar volume growth of 6.7% in October was healthy as shoppers became less pessimistic about the economy. Improved consumer sentiment and a pullback in savings continued to support spend. Meanwhile, transaction growth slipped to 5.9% in October compared with 6.3% in September.

• Average ticket growth was 0.8% in October, a reversal from September’s -0.5% growth. Several retail categories experienced improved average tickets due to a slight rise in prices.

• Several segments in the Northeast, such as retailers and food and beverage stores, saw a surge in business late in the month as consumers stocked up on supplies and prepared for the storm. However, during Hurricane Sandy’s landfall and shortly after sales were negatively disrupted across most segments as power outages kept shoppers at home.

“In spite of the uncertainty surrounding the economy and Hurricane Sandy, consumer spending growth continues very much in line with the level of growth we have seen over the last six to seven months.

Several segments in the Northeast, such as Building Material & Garden Equipment & Supply Dealers and Food/Beverage Stores saw a surge in business late in the month as consumers stocked up on supplies and prepared for the storm. However, during Sandy’s landfall and shortly after sales were negatively disrupted across most segments as power outages kept shoppers at home.

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OPERATIONS

Safeway to hire at least 1,000 military veterans in 2013

BY Staff Writer

Pleasanton, Calif. — Safeway Inc. announced it will expand its support of America’s military veterans by hiring at least 1,000 military veterans in 2013 to add to the 1,300 hired to date in 2012.

The company has created a Junior Military Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer program to train and place veterans in top store and backstage leadership positions. The 41-week intensive training program includes a combination of on-the-job training, mentoring, classroom seminars, job shadowing and independent study, as well as participating in numerous department and key leadership strategy sessions. At the end of the program, participants are qualified to hold a number of leadership positions, including Store Manager and Warehouse Superintendent.

Safeway is raising money this Veterans Day weekend for organizations that help veterans recover from service-related injuries and/or return to the civilian workforce.

“We are honored to assist those who have protected our freedom at home and abroad,” said Larree Renda, Safeway executive VP and chair of The Safeway Foundation. “Likewise, we have tapped into the knowledge and leadership skills of these remarkable professionals to enhance our workforce. We urge other companies to do the same and benefit from the talent that comes with military experience."

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R.Costa says:
Mar-06-2013 09:55 am

Veterans
Safeway Inc. has taken its great initiative to include the veterans and hire them. This has been the step taken after Walmart has also decided to provide the same to the American veterans. They will be provided total care and also the training for various posts in the services. New talents will sure emerge from them within and this will be a great venture towards the employment issues after war. virginia personal injury attorneys

R.Costa says:
Mar-06-2013 09:55 am

Safeway Inc. has taken its great initiative to include the veterans and hire them. This has been the step taken after Walmart has also decided to provide the same to the American veterans. They will be provided total care and also the training for various posts in the services. New talents will sure emerge from them within and this will be a great venture towards the employment issues after war. virginia personal injury attorneys

A.Crevier says:
Nov-12-2012 03:29 pm

Safeway
Contratulations to Safeway for their initiative to train and hire 1,000 military veterans.

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