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Study: Consumer spending passes $10 trillion

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago – Renewed consumer spending is in line with pre-recession trends and consumer optimism is higher than it’s been in years. In 2013, Mintel estimates that personal consumption expenditures on consumer goods reached $10 trillion for the first time.

The outlook for 2014 continues the positive trend with spending expected to increase further by 3.6% – more than three-times the projected rate of inflation for the year. In 2014, just one-in-10 Americans say that they don’t spend extra money, bur that they save it; and a similar share say that they "never" have any extra money. These sentiments are in stark contrast with 2013 and 2008 survey results when the share of savers was at least double. Meanwhile, those who say they "never" have any extra money has declined since 2008 from 15% to 12% in 2014.

Mintel forecasts that total US consumer expenditures will grow by 20% from 2013-2018 to reach $12.02 billion. In comparison, expenditures increased just 15% from 2008 to 2013 (with a 1.5% decline 2008-09). The categories that appear to poised to show the greatest gains over the next five years are many of the same ones that performed the strongest from 2012-13: nonessentials such as leisure and entertainment (+28.5%), vacations and tourism (+27.3%), technology and communications (+25.2%) and alcohol on premises (+23.7%).

"In 2014, it appears that America has finally stopped holding its collective breath, waiting for the other economic shoe to drop," said Fiona O’Donnell, category manager, multicultural, lifestyles and leisure at Mintel. "After five years of slow but steady growth, Americans have passed the tipping point of prolonged economic worry and have cautiously accepted that things are better. Confidence in personal finances has allowed consumers to think about the future and look forward rather than linger over the past."

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Report: Wal-Mart to expand Sunnyvale e-commerce operation

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Bruno, Calif. – Wal-Mart is reportedly planning to substantially expand its e-commerce operation based in Sunnyvale, California. According to the Oakland Tribune, Wal-Mart intends to add hundreds of staffers to its global e-commerce unit there, bringing the total number of e-commerce employees to about 1,000.

In addition, Wal-Mart will lease a 107,000-sq.-ft. space in Sunnyvale to help house its e-commerce operations. Currently, the retailer employs about 550 e-commerce employees in Sunnyvale at an existing facility it will maintain.

Wal-Mart’s global e-commerce unit is headquartered in San Bruno, California, bur executives were quoted as saying the greater Sunnyvale area has a large concentration of e-commerce talent and is an important part of its e-commerce strategy.

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Tiffany produces gleaming results in Q1

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Tiffany & Co. grew net earnings 50% in a successful first quarter of fiscal 2014. Net earnings increased 50% to $126 million, up from $84 million in the same period a year earlier, aided by the elimination of pre-tax charges relating to staff and occupancy reduction.

Worldwide net sales grew 13% to $1.01 billion, from $895.48 million. Worldwide same-store sales rose 11% due to growth in most regions.

“This is an excellent and encouraging start to the year,” said Michael J. Kowalsk, chairman and CEO. “We were pleased with the strong and broad-based sales growth across most regions and product categories and our ability to leverage those improved sales into very significant growth in operating and net earnings. Strength in fine and statement jewelry sales continued, while sales of our new or expanded jewelry collections accelerated, led by our Atlas collection.”

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