OPERATIONS

Report: Angry Birds in major deal with U.S. chain

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, is partnering up with a major U.S. retail chain to open dedicated Angry Birds in-store shops in thousands of locations nationwide, Reuters reported. The shops, which will feature branded toys, tee shirts and books, are being timed to debut with the launch of Angry Birds Space, the Finnish company’s latest downloadable game. The report said the partnership will be more extensive than Rovio’s existing agreement with Barnes & Noble.

The report also said that Rovio plans to open branded stores in China soon.

Angry Birds is the world’s most downloadable game, according to Reuters, and is also the fastest-growing game on Facebook.

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FINANCE

NRF: Easter sales forecast to exceed $16 billion

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — Spring apparel and candy are predicted to push Easter sales past the $16 billion mark this year, according to a new survey released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation.

The Easter spending survey, conducted by BIGinsight, found that Americans will shell out an average of $145.28 on everything from apparel and candy to food and decorations this year, up 11% from $131.04 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $16.8 billion.

“Though the price of gas is on everyone’s mind, Easter is one of the few holidays some consumers are willing to stretch their budgets, especially because many children look forward to treats and new outfits on Easter morning,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers will make sure to offer plenty of promotions on candy, apparel, food and decorations in the coming weeks for eager holiday shoppers.”

According to the survey, 48.5% of those surveyed plan to take advantage of retailers’ spring sales on colorful fashions and accessories, with total spending on those items expected to reach $3 billion. Most though, will head straight to the candy aisle (89.3%), shelling out more than $2 billion on traditional favorites such as chocolate eggs and jelly beans. The average person will spend more on these items as well: $26.11 on apparel, up from $21.51 last year, and $20.35 on candy, up from $18.55 last year.

Americans are also set to fork over more on their Easter meals with the average person expected to spend $44.34, up from $40.05 last year for a total $5.1 billion. Additionally, consumers will spend an average of $20.57 on gifts for their friends and family, $10.50 on flowers and $9.07 on decorations for their home and office. Half (53.6%) will buy greeting cards, spending an average of $7.04.

Though most people will shop at their local discount store (63.5%), the survey found that four in 10 (42.6%) – and the highest percent in the survey’s history – will shop at a department store for gifts and other holiday merchandise. Online retailers will see the biggest jump in traffic this year, however. Nearly two in five (18.7%) will shop online, up from 14.8% last year and just 11.1% in 2008. Others will shop at specialty stores (25.4%) such as a jeweler, electronic store or florist, or a specialty clothing store (9.7%).

More than half (52.3%) of tablet owners celebrating Easter will use their device to research products and purchase gifts and other merchandise. Specifically, 25.7% said they will purchase something and 36.6% plan to research products and compare prices. More than one-quarter (26.3%) will look up company and store information, such as store hours and location, and 15.3% will use apps to research and purchase products. Additionally, 43.3% of smartphone owners celebrating Easter will use their mobile device to research and/or purchase items.

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FINANCE

Restaurant sales rose 3.4% in 2011

BY Staff Writer

Chicago — A report released Tuesday by research firm Technomic found that sales among the 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains increased 3.4% to $242 billion in 2011.

That compares to just a 1.8% increase in 2010.

Of the 500 restaurants analyzed by Technomic, more than 60% posted at least nominal sales increases; just 193 saw sales declines in 2011, compared with 231 in 2010.

The fast-casual restaurant format was the biggest winner last year, seeing the highest rates of sales and unit growth. The three fastest-growing chains among brands with at least $200 million were Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Jimmy John’s.

Limited-service restaurant brands, which include quick-service and fast-casual chains, recorded sales growth that outpaced that of full-service restaurants in 2011, Technomic found. Limited-service brands increased annual sales 7.1% compared with full service’s 2.8% rise.

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