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Report: Affluent shoppers increasingly optimistic about economy

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — A report released Monday by Ipsos found that affluent optimism in the U.S. economy rose significantly in February.

According to Ipsos MediaCT’s February 2013 Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer – which defines affluent as at least $100,000 in annual household income – in February, 43% of Affluents were optimistic about the U.S. economy, up from 40% in December 2012, and 34% in October 2012. In contrast, only 36% described themselves as pessimistic in February 2013. In addition, 52% now believe they personally will be better off in 12 months, up from 41% in December 2012.

“Affluent optimism has risen in 2013, buoyed by the performance of stock and housing markets, as well as perceived improvements in the economy as a whole, and the job market in particular,” said Dr. Stephen Kraus, SVP and chief insights officer, Ipsos.

The Barometer found that luxury spending among Affluents will likely remain at current levels, but shows significant growth potential among Ultra Affluents, the 2%-4% of Americans with at least $250K+ household income. Ultra Affluent spending on luxury shows particularly strong growth potential in categories related to travel, apparel, accessories, watches and jewelry.

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Walmart Foundation serves up big bowl of philanthropy

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The Walmart Foundation is celebrating National Nutrition Month and National School Breakfast Week by giving $6.7 million in grants to five national nonprofit organizations that are providing children with school breakfast and helping families develop better eating habits. The grants are part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to help fight hunger in America and Walmart’s 2011 initiative to provide customers with healthier and more affordable food choices.

Grants to Action for Healthy Kids and the American Association of School Administrators will support programs that help more children start their school day with a morning meal, providing them with the nutritional substance they need to learn and grow. Additional grants to Common Threads, the Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center and the National 4-H Council will fund programs that empower people of all ages with the education and training they need to identify, shop for and prepare healthier meals.

"Through Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s ongoing commitment to help Americans live better, we are working to make nutritious food more accessible and affordable to children and adults across the nation," said Julie Gehrki , senior director of the Walmart Foundation. "Many Americans are not making a well-balanced diet part of their daily routine. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 25 percent of adults, and even fewer children, eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day. Through these grants, we are proud to partner with nonprofits to assure families not only have access to the healthy food they need, but also are empowered with the knowledge to develop and maintain better eating habits so they can live long and healthy lives."

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Retail consultant joins Nutrisystem board

BY CSA STAFF

FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. — Nutrisystem has announced that Andrea Weiss has joined the company’s board of directors, effective immediately. She replaces Michael Devine, who has resigned from the board.

Weiss is the founder and current president and CEO of Retail Consulting Inc., a boutique consulting practice focused on product and brand development, consumer contact strategies, operational improvements, and turnarounds, and has served as its president and CEO since its formation in October 2002. She has extensive specialty retail experience, having served in several senior executive positions with dELiA*s Inc., The Limited Inc., Intimate Brands Inc., Guess Inc., and Ann Taylor Stores Inc. Weiss currently serves on the board of directors of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. and Chico’s FAS Inc. Weiss served on the boards of directors of GSI Commerce Inc. from 2006 to 2011 and eDiets.com, Inc. from 2004 to 2009.

Mike Hagan, chairman of the Nutrisystem board of directors, stated, “Andrea Weiss brings a unique perspective to the Nutrisystem board, having been directly responsible for the marketing and development of several of the most recognizable retail brands for women in the United States. As over 70% of Nutrisystem’s customers are women, her insight and knowledge of this important demographic will be invaluable as we execute our turnaround plan. In addition, she brings ecommerce expertise through her board membership at GSI Commerce, and knowledge of the diet industry as a result of her directorship at eDiets, both of which are analogous to Nutrisystem’s business.”

Weiss added, “I’m thrilled to join the board at Nutrisystem, which is one of the most enduring brands in the weight loss industry. As Americans continue to struggle with obesity, Nutrisystem has the products and services consumers need to meet their weight loss goals. I believe the company has a nearly unlimited opportunity to build its business, and I look forward to working with Dawn Zier, Mike Hagan, and the board to execute on our growth opportunity.”

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