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Survey: Big-Ticket Items Continue Downward Slide

BY CSA STAFF

New York City The latest news out of Deloitte’s consumer group is that sales of consumer electronics, furniture, appliances, cars, home improvement products and other big-ticket items are expected to continue their downward tumble in the months ahead, this according to the latest movements in the Deloitte Leading Index of Consumer Durables Spending.

The index, which turned negative in September 2007, fell for the sixth straight month in March 2008, suggesting that real personal consumption expenditures on durable goods (manufactured goods designed to last at least three years) is on a sustained downward trend. 

“The sustained, six-month decline in the index suggests that there may be significant weakness in consumer spending on consumer electronics, furniture, appliances, cars, home improvement products and other big-ticket items in the coming months,” said Ira Kalish, director of research for Deloitte’s consumer products group and author of the monthly index.

Kalish noted that “all four components of the index moved in a negative direction in March.” The four components include the consumer price index for urban consumers, initial claims for unemployment insurance, real hourly earnings and new single-family houses sold.

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More innovation emerges as Sial Montreal ends

BY CSA STAFF

MONTREAL Innovations come in many forms at Sial Montreal, closing today at Palais des congres de Montreal.

In the case of Le Grande, the innovations came in the form of packaing and product. The company makes pesto sauces, tapenades and aromatic sauces including sesame and pink peppercorn, orange and sunflower seed and lemon confit and pumpkin seed. The company just gave up its traditional glass jars in favor of super thick plastic pouches that stand on their own, pour through a resealable spout and are far lighter to transport than the former packaging. The product line, which had been available throughout Canada and in Zabars and Fairway in New York, got the interest of Whole Foods in its new form and it preparing to roll out at the retailer’s stores throughout North America.

Other innovative introductions include ice cider from Intermiel, which also produces maple liquor and its among the top producers of mead — or honeywine — in North America, a product it is looking to export to the United States. In the snack category, G.o.o.d.b.o.n is highlighing its Crunchy delight, maple chunk candies meant to provide a natural treat and act as a nut substitute for kids with allergies. And on the beverage side, Tasty Enterprises introduced hone and aloe vera iced teas. The company is making inroads in Florida and Washington, DC, but continues trying to expand its healthy green teas and line of bubble teas in the U.S.

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Amazon.com posts 1Q net sales growth

BY CSA STAFF

SEATTLE Amazon.com announced that net sales for its first quarter ended March 31 increased 37% to $4.13 billion compared with $3.02 billion in first quarter 2007. Excluding the $0.18 billion favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales grew 31% compared with first quarter 2007.

Operating income increased 36% to $198 million in the first quarter compared with $145 million in first quarter 2007. Excluding the $14 million favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, operating income grew 27% compared with first quarter 2007.

Net income increased 30% to $143 million in the first quarter, or 34 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $111 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, in first quarter 2007.

Our sales growth this quarter was driven by low prices and millions of in-stock items available for immediate shipment, said Jeff Bezos, founder and ceo of Amazon.com. Were grateful to our customers. 

The company expects second quarter net sales to be between $3.9 billion and $4 billion, or to grow between 34% and 41% compared with second quarter 2007.

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