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Report: U.S. consumer confidence rises most since 2003

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — A report released Tuesday by the Conference Board showed that consumer confidence experienced its biggest gain in more than eight years, jumping to 56 in November from a revised 40.9 reading in the month prior. The leap was the biggest since April 2003 and exceeded the most optimistic forecast by Bloomberg News.

The improvement in consumer attitude may help sustain household purchases, which account for about 70% of the economy, after sales climbed on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“We are seeing confidence returning to the ranges it’s been in the past two years in this lukewarm recovery,” Guy Berger, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Conn., told Bloomberg. He added that while the data is consistent with the gains in holiday retail sales, “it doesn’t bode for a further acceleration in spending, but more of the same.”

The Conference Board’s confidence gauge climbed to the highest level since July. And the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment rose to 64.1 this month, the highest since June.

The median projection in the Bloomberg survey called for a confidence reading of 44.

U.S. shoppers spent a record $52.4 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend. Retail sales climbed 16%, and shoppers spent $398.62 on average, up from $365.34 a year earlier, according to the National Retail Federation, citing a survey from BIGresearch.

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Walgreens rolls out Web Pickup service

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens said Tuesday it has introduced online ordering and in-store pickup at 70+ stores in the Indianapolis market, with some stores offering curbside delivery.

The new Web Pickup service throughout the Indianapolis area is the second full market rollout for the service, which enables consumers to shop online at Walgreens.com and pick up orders at a Walgreens store in as little as an hour. The service is also currently available throughout Chicago and at a number of stores in San Jose, Calif.

“Our customers value choice, control and convenience, and Web Pickup brings all of these together to cater to on-the-go shoppers,” said Walgreens president of e-commerce Sona Chawla.

Web Pickup is now available at 71 Walgreens locations in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Most non-prescription items found in-store are available online through the service. Curbside delivery, now offered at select stores, will be added to most Web Pickup locations in the coming months.

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Sheetz teams with Actian for data analytics

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Redwood City, Calif. — Actian Corp. said Tuesday that c-store chain Sheetz has selected its Vectorwise data analytics engine to optimize costs, maintain high quality and ensure a positive customer experience.

“Data growth is occurring at record rates,” said Jarrid Magalich, technical services manager at Sheetz. “It’s important for Sheetz to have a plan to manage this growth, maintain and improve current service levels – even with a growing user base – and reduce infrastructure costs wherever possible.”

Sheetz said it may layer additional Actian products such as the Cloud Action Platform and Action Apps. The chain performs extensive analysis on numerous types of data from multiple sources as a way to optimize costs, maintain high quality, and ensure that the overall experience of their customers is positive and consistent. Actian’s Vectorwise enabled them to now expand that analysis from one year of data to two years (approximately three billion rows), as well as manage its anticipated growth (expected to double over the next two to three years).

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