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Spending continued to climb in April

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Consumer spending rose for the second consecutive in April and remains at its highest level in six years, according to the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index. The Index attempts to track consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“In April, the Index continued to benefit from an improved employment picture, and for the first time since the spring of 2007, the housing market was a positive contributor to the Index,” said Carl Steidtmann, chief economist with Deloitte Research, a subsidiary of Deloitte Services LP, and author of the monthly Index. “While real wages have been deteriorating due partly to inflation, any negative effect is being offset by strength in other components of the Index. Tax rates are at historically low levels; however, should proposed tax increases materialize in the months ahead, they may begin to drag on the Index.”

The Index, comprising four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — rose to 5.0%, from an upwardly revised gain of 4.64% a month ago.

“While consumers appear to be re-energized, retailers are likely to find that shoppers are navigating the physical and virtual retail space much differently than they did prior to the recession,” said Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and Deloitte’s retail leader in the United States. “Investments in improving the customer experience across all channels, via store remodels or more seamless multi-channel technology, may benefit retailers as they prepare for the back-to-school and holiday selling seasons.

Janiak said retailers should also consider shifts in their marketing and advertising spend, moving to a “cost-effective mix of visual merchandising and mobile and social media marketing to reach target customers both in-store and online.”

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Clarke confirmed as Asda CEO

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart officially named Andy Clarke as head of its Asda unit in the United Kingdom, ending speculation that began last week following former CEO Andy Bond’s unexpected decision to relinquish the top job. Bond will remain as chairman, and Clarke assumes the role of president and CEO immediately. Clarke is an Asda veteran who joined the company in 1992 and progressed through a variety of roles that began with store manager. He left the company for a brief period from 2001 to 2005 to join Matalan, but returned to Asda as a retail director and was named COO in 2007. Bond said Clarke was the right choice for the job following a review of internal and external candidates.

Commenting on the leadership transition, Walmart international division president and CEO Doug McMillon said, “At Walmart and at Asda, we have a robust succession planning and talent development process and Andy Clarke has long been identified as a leader. He is the ideal person for the job and this will be a seamless leadership change.”

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Target donates $2.3M to Feeding America

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Target announced that it is donating $2.3 million to Feeding America to fund a school food pantry pilot program and its future expansion to more schools nationwide. The program, ‘Meals for Minds,’ is a partnership with Feeding America and local food banks that will bring food to schools to feed students and families most in need, the company reported. Target also is committing $1.2 million on top of the $2.3 million, to local food banks across the country to support other school-based food programs. The company also is projected to donate more than 20 million pounds of food to children and families in need in 2010.

“Through ‘Meals for Minds’ and our ongoing partnership with Feeding America and local food banks, Target is helping children focus on learning and their educational future — not on how or when they will get their next meal,” says Laysha Ward, president of community relations for Target.  “Early results of the pilot are encouraging and we’re excited to expand the program to even more schools.”

Target began piloting the “Meals for Minds” school pantry program this spring in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Chicago. The pilot schools were selected by participating food banks, in cooperation with local schools. At each school, 65% to 90% of students qualify for participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch program.

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