FINANCE

Report: Valentine Spending to Exceed $17B

BY CSA STAFF

As cupid prepares for his biggest day of the year, consumers are also planning special ways to celebrate with their loved ones. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2008 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average consumer plans to spend $122.98 on Valentine’s Day, similar to last year’s $119.67. Total spending on Valentine’s Day is expected to reach $17.02 billion.

Traditional gifts, such as candy, flowers and jewelry will see a slight decrease in popularity this year with more consumers preferring gifts of experience and gift cards. Almost half (48.2%) of all consumers plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special night out, compared to 45.3% last year, and 12.3% will give a gift card, compared to 11.3% last year.

Greeting cards still remain the most popular choice, though the number of people planning to purchase one is down from last year (56.8% vs. 62.8% last year). Nearly 48.0% of consumers will buy candy, 35.9% will buy flowers and 11.8% will buy clothing.

Men will again dish out the most this year, spending an average of $163.37 on gifts and cards, compared to an average of $84.72 spent by women.

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Wakefern expands private label program

BY CSA STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Wakefern has expanded its operation to provide private label products to retailers outside of its ShopRite system and may begin offering a range of services as well.

The co-op, which is taking on distributor-oriented operations in the wake of Supervalu’s retail expansion, has developed a wide range of support services for the ShopRite supermarkets – ranging from single-unit operators to local chains – and Joseph Colalillo, Wakefern chairman and ceo, said those may become available to supermarket operators if the product initiative proves successful. Colalillo addressed the issue at a networking reception sponsored by the Network of Executive Women’s New York Metro Regional Group.

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Amazon MP3 to launch internationally

BY CSA STAFF

SEATTLE Amazon.com is taking its digital music store beyond the U.S. this year.

The company announced Sunday that it will begin an international rollout of Amazon MP3, its DRM-free MP3 digital music store, in 2008. The store launched in September 2007 in the United States, and grew to include more than 3.3 million songs from more than 270,000 artists, and can be listened to on any hardware device.

We have received thousands of e-mails from Amazon customers around the world asking us when we will make Amazon MP3 available outside of the U.S. They cant wait to choose from the biggest selection of high-quality, low-priced DRM-free MP3 music downloads which play on virtually any music device they own today or will own in the future, said Bill Carr, Amazon.com vp of digital music. We are excited to tell those customers today that Amazon MP3 is going international this year. 

The company is not disclosing a specific launch timeline for individual Amazon international Web sites.

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