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Report: Electronics, apparel back-to-school spending expected to rise

BY CSA STAFF

Los Angeles A new report from PriceGrabber found that, this year, 15% of elementary school students will start school with a new laptop, 13% will have computer accessories, and 10% will receive a new cell phone or smartphone.

Last year, 7% received computer accessories and 6% had a new cell phone or smartphone.

PriceGrabber said it expects clothing purchases to increase across all age groups. Eighty-five percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to purchase clothing for elementary school students this year, compared with 78% last year, according to the report. In 2010, 82% plan to purchase clothing for middle school students, compared with 77% in 2009. Eighty-four percent plan to purchase clothing for high school students, up from 74% in 2009. This year, 60% of shoppers are buying clothing for college students, compared with 47% last year.

“The trends we are seeing in shoppers’ back-to-school clothing purchases this year indicate that although they continue to be focused on budget-minded spending, older students in particular are expanding their wardrobes which would indicate a shift towards discretionary clothing purchases. This demonstrates consumers are feeling more confident about the economy this year than last,” said Laura Conrad, president of PriceGrabber.

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Visa launches new payment card security initiative

BY CSA STAFF

On Wednesday, Visa Inc. launched a new payment card security initiative that the company said could eliminate the need for retailers and other organizations to store full, 16-digit credit and debit card numbers on their systems.

The move comes in response to long-standing pressure from the National Retail Federation, which maintains that merchants should not be required to store the information because of security risks.

Under the new initiative, Visa said it will push card issuers and acquiring banks to allow merchants to present truncated, disguised or otherwise masked card numbers for dispute resolution cases. Some permit this already, but the goal is to make the practice broader, said Eduardo Perez, head of global payment system security at Visa.

Visa said it plans to seek feedback from industry stakeholders on the challenges and issues involved in moving to a more secure payment industry model. After Visa reviews the feedback, it will decide whether to make the recommendations a mandated requirement.

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West Marine sales rise 8.4% in 2Q

BY CSA STAFF

West Marine Inc. reported Thursday that its net revenues for the quarter ended July 3 were $233.4 million, an increase of 8.4% over the year-ago period.

Same-store sales jumped 9.4%.

According to the company, sales benefitted from warmer weather in the northeast. However, “in the southeast, we have been starting to feel the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as boating activities are increasingly restricted,” said Geoff Eisenberg, CEO.

West Marine, a specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, operates 330 company-operated stores in 38 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, and two franchised stores in Turkey.

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