FINANCE

Study: October non-cash consumer spending growth rises from September

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta — Dollar volume growth in credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations in October 2013 was 6.8%, an uptick from the prior month’s growth of 5.3%. First Data Corporation’s First Data SpendTrend analysis shows the growth was supported by the onset of cooler temperatures, which drove sales of seasonal merchandise and early holiday advertising attracting shopper foot-traffic.

The year-over-year gas price discount continued to widen. This negatively impacted overall spending growth. Gas station dollar volume growth was -4.9% in October, the lowest growth seen since April 2013. However, strong growth in categories such as food services and drinking places and leisure, which saw growth of 7.8% and 9.9% helped offset some of that negative growth.

Retail dollar volume growth in October jumped to 5.6% compared to September’s 3.6% growth. Retail spending growth accelerated toward the end of the month as the government shutdown ended and shoppers regained confidence. All retail sub-categories saw positive year-over-year dollar volume growth.

Average ticket growth was 0.5% in October, up from September’s growth of -0.2%. The slowdown in gas station average tickets continued to offset the overall growth. Gas station average ticket growth of -7.9% marked a twelve-month low. However, retail average ticket growth jumped to 1.8% from last month’s growth of 0.8% as discounting activity by retailers eased. Retailers focused on profits in October, as this period is an opportunity to plump up profits between the back-to-school and holiday seasons; periods where retailers may be forced to cut prices to win customers.

“Consumer spending growth gained momentum in October, which should provide retailers with an optimistic outlook heading into the holiday season”, said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, information and analytics solutions, First Data. “Retailers should expect holiday spending to be modestly stronger compared to last year barring any number of external events that could negatively impact sales such as poor weather or geopolitical events at home or abroad.”

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: More than half of Americans prefer general purpose gift cards

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – More than half of Americans (53%) prefer general purpose gift cards as opposed to branded gift cards. In addition, new survey data from Bankrate.com shows that almost two in three Americans have given a gift card, and more than three in four have received one.

The most common value of gift cards, both given and received, is between $25 and $50. People older than 65 and those between 18 and 29 years old are the least likely to give a gift card. As income level increases, Americans are more likely to give and receive gift cards.

Other findings include:

  • 53% of the gift cards that Bankrate.com surveyed can be reloaded, up slightly from 51% last year.
  • 56% can be delivered electronically, in line with each of the past two years.
  • 69% of gift card issuers will replace the card and/or funds in the event of loss or theft.
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OPERATIONS

Report: Wal-Mart identifies Bangladesh safety issues

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores has reportedly tested more than 200 factories with which it does business in Bangladesh and found safety issues at 32 of them. According to Reuters, Wal-Mart sent out an email saying that 30 of those 32 factories have corrected the issues since their discovery.

Wal-Mart has posted the test results of 75 of those factories so far. One of the two factories which failed inspection has closed down and a new facility is being built in its place. Wal-Mart will reportedly post the remaining reports on its website as they become available.

Safety of apparel factories in Bangladesh has become a spotlight issue in retail since recent tragedies including a collapse that killed more than 1,000 workers in April 2013 and a fire that killed more than 100 workers in November 2012.

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