OPERATIONS

NRF: Retail adds jobs in April

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation said that retail employment increased 28,000 in April 2014 from March 2014 and 241,000 year-over-year. March’s retail employment was revised upward by 2,700 jobs.

NRF said the increase reflects the growth and positive momentum seen in the retail industry in recent months. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy as a whole added 288,000 jobs in April, reducing the unemployment rate from 6.7% to 6.3%.

"After a weak report on growth in the overall economy, the strong jobs report shows that the backlash from the weather-induced slowdown between December and March impacted economic activity but was not a foreboding sign of what is to come," said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the NRF. “We expect a rebound in economic activity. While only select sectors such as apparel and general merchandise reported higher results, we expect retailers to be stocked and prepared for one of the busiest times of the year, summer."

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: 64% of U.S. households own smartphones

BY Marianne Wilson

Arlington, Va. — The dominance of the mobile channel is illustrated in a new survey from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which reveals that two-thirds (64%) of U.S. households now own smartphones, surpassing ownership of basic cell phones 51%) for the first time, according to a new study.

The 16th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study also shows that, despite the continued growth of online retail sales, 85% of U.S. households purchasing CE products in the last year did so at brick-and-mortar retail stores. But households that bought CE devices over the past year say they are 49% more likely to make CE purchases online in the year to come.

In other findings:

  • Consumers’ appetite for mobile products remained strong in 2013, and the mobility trend will continue in 2014 with four of the top five planned purchases this year focused on a mobile lifestyle.
  • In 2014, the top consumer electronics (CE) products U.S. households plan to purchase are smartphones (27%) and over- or on-the-ear headphones (27%).
  • Also among the top planned purchases are televisions (20%); laptop, notebook or netbook computers (18%); and tablets (16%).

“Building on consecutive years of strong, mobile device adoption, consumers continue to embrace a connected lifestyle in the home and on the go,” said Kevin Tillmann, senior research analyst, market research at CEA. “Consumers are now turning to many of the emerging connected products entering the market today, such as smart watches, connected fitness devices and smart thermostats.”

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News

New head of creative at Lands’ End

BY CSA STAFF

Lands’ End has named Becky Gebhardt as SVP, chief creative officer. Gebhardt was actually VP of creative at the company from 2004 to 2007.

The announcement comes a day after the company, which was recently divested by Sears, named Steven Rado as SVP, chief marketing officer.

Gebhardt will be responsible for developing and implementing global creative brand strategies that focus on digital, retail and catalog, a role that will drive and execute the creative vision that supports the merchandising strategy and marketing campaigns across all channels. In this role she will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the creative organization including concepts, art direction, photography and creative operations.

"We are very excited to welcome Becky back to Lands’ End," said CEO and president Edgar Huber. "Her experience directing brand and creative efforts for multi-channel businesses along with her focus on the customer experience aligns well with our strategy for future growth. She is innovative and brings a proven track record in leading global creative organizations for businesses our size."

Gebhardt comes to Lands’ End from Crocs and Bag Borrow or Steal. She served as VP, global creative director and VP of creative, PR and online experience, respectively. During her tenure she was responsible for the global brand creative vision and execution in more than 90 countries, customer experience and communications.

"Becky’s creative vision, knowledge of the brand’s heritage and her overall experience across the retail industry will be invaluable as she joins the Lands’ End team to help us elevate and evolve the brand," said Huber.

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