REAL ESTATE

Ralphs opens new California store April 10

BY Dan Berthiaume

Compton, Calif. — Ralphs will open a new Ralphs Fresh Fare store in Sherman Oaks, Calif., on April 10. The new 72,000-sq.-ft.store replaces an older Ralphs that operated for 42 years from the same location before it was closed in 2012, and will employ about 240 full- and part-time workers.

The new Sherman Oaks Ralphs will also feature an in-store Murray’s Cheese Shop, as well as fresh produce; a fully staffed meat department; a fresh seafood department; a full-service bakery; a service delicatessen with fresh items; and a full-service pharmacy. The store will also feature Kosher Experience, a 1,500-sq.-ft. store-within-a-store featuring a full-service delicatessen, bakery, meat and seafood department, frozen food section and several aisles of non-perishable kosher food products.

"Sherman Oaks shoppers can expect to see great prices, larger product variety and top-notch customer service at our new Sherman Oaks Ralphs Fresh Fare," said Donna Giordano, president of Ralphs. "We’re excited about the new products and services we are offering in our new Sherman Oaks store and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the community."

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Prom spending drops

BY Dan Berthiaume

Foster City, Calif. – American households with teens are reining in prom spending in 2014. According to a new survey of 4,000 consumers by Visa, the American average household will spend $978 in 2014 on the prom.

That’s down more than 14% from the average $1,139 families spent on items including attire, limousine rental, tickets, and dinner in 2013. The sharp decrease follows three years of steady increases. By way of comparison, Canadian households will spend about 25% less than American households, at $723.

Despite the drop this year, prom spending still remains disproportionately high and represents a major expense for American families with high school students. Visa is introducing a new, updated free smartphone app that helps parents and teenagers plan and budget every aspect of the prom.

Parents who earn less than $50,000 a year plan to spend significantly less than the national average, $733, while parents who make more than $50,000 will spend an average of $1,151. Parents younger than 40 years of age plan to spend almost 30% more than parents older than the age of 40 at $1,074, compared to $842. In addition, men plan to spend $1,357, more than double the $673 women plan to spend.

The Visa survey also found that parents are planning to pay for 56% of prom costs, while their teens are covering the remaining 44%. Visa’s prom survey also revealed some regional and economic disparities. States on the West Coast led the nation, spending even more than they did last year. The Midwest, once again, is spending the least, although they too are spending more than last year. The Northeast saw a 27% reduction in spending and the South a 23% drop, when compared with 2013. Regionally, the survey found:

• Western families will spend an average of $1,125
• Northeastern families will spend an average of $1,104
• Southern families will spend an average of $926
• Midwestern families will spend an average of $835

“It is no secret that merchants increasingly want a user experience that parallels that of a consumer electronics device,” said Bill Nelson, executive VP of global product management for VeriFone. “The VX 690 achieves this goal while providing 3G connectivity that is critical in many markets where 2G networks are transitioning to 3G. The user experience of the terminal combined with its robustness, flexibility, and technical communication capabilities will not only enable payments today — it will enable commerce tomorrow.”

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News

Forte Payment Systems launches acceptance platform

BY Dan Berthiaume

Allen, Texas — Forte Payment Systems is launching Forte Checkout, an intuitive platform for online payment acceptance that supports electronic check in addition to credit and debit card payment methods. Forte Checkout integrates seamlessly and securely to applications that need payment handling capabilities.

The solution can also be configured to operate in e-wallet mode that allows payers to save their address and payment information for a streamlined checkout process when making future payments. Other features include authentication, total user experience control, swipe support, and tokenization.

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