FINANCE

Survey: More consumers plan to use tax refund to shop

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Los Angeles — Survey results released Wednesday by PriceGrabber found that 54% of consumers expect to receive a tax refund this year. And, the majority plans to use the money for purchases.

According to PriceGrabber’s poll of 5,655 U.S. online shopping consumers, 24% anticipate a bigger refund than last year and 26% expect about the same amount. Thirty-two percent anticipate receiving less compared to 2012, and 18% aren’t sure how much money they will receive.

"As expected, many taxpayers are looking to save or pay off credit card debt with their refund, however our survey data also indicates a springtime boost in the economy as 56% (a 13% increase over last year) plan to splurge on clothing, home goods and electronics this year," said Rojeh Avanesian , VP marketing and analytics of PriceGrabber.

When consumers were asked to select all of the items or activities they will purchase with their tax refund, clothing was the top selection with 34% of respondents. Home goods and consumer electronics such as HDTVs, cameras or smartphones, tied for second place receiving 28% of the vote. Computers, laptops, tablets and e-readers followed in third with 34%, and 23% of consumers selected travel and vacations.

Those not shopping plan to save their tax refund. When the 44% of respondents who indicated they are not planning to shop with their refund money were asked to select all the ways they plan to use the refund, 37% said they will put it in savings. Twenty-six percent of consumers plan to pay off credit card debt; 12% plan to create an emergency fund; 11% selected home improvements; and 10% will pay off student loans, auto loans or a mortgage. Five percent of respondents plan to invest the money, and another 5% plan to indulge in leisure activities such as travel, dining out, concerts/events or spas.

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FINANCE

Supervalu announces departure of CFO, general counsel

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Minneapolis — Supervalu president and CEO Sam Duncan announced Wednesday some major changes to his executive leadership team.

CFO Sherry Smith will leave the company, effective May 30, and no replacement has yet been named. Smith is a 26-year veteran of the company and has served as EVP and CFO since December 2010.

General counsel Todd Sheldon will also leave the company, effective May 30, to be replaced by Karla Robertson, who has been named EVP for legal, effective immediately.

Prior to Supervalu, Robertson served as senior counsel with Target Corp.

Duncan, a noted turnaround specialist, arrived at Supervalu from OfficeMax earlier this year. He replaced Wayne Sales and has overseen the divestiture of five of Supervalu’s grocery brands.

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OPERATIONS

Study: DSW is America’s favorite shoe retailer, followed by Nordstrom

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Boulder, Colo. — In survey results released Wednesday by Market Force Information, DSW was named America’s No. 1 shoe retailer by more than 4,000 consumers polled.

Nordstrom, Nike, Shoe Carnival and Famous Footwear rounded out the top five.

The study, conducted in February, was designed to uncover which shoe retailers consumers like most and why they prefer one to another. Market Force first calculated the favorites based on the total number of votes, and then factored in the number of locations for each chain for a more level view of the results. Of all the retailers included in the study, DSW garnered the most total votes, and it remained the leader when the votes were indexed by the number of store locations.

Market Force also asked consumers to rank shoe retailers based on key attributes such as value, merchandise selection and loyalty programs. A strong loyalty program is appreciated by consumers, according to the study, and this was one area where DSW excelled, taking the top spot. DSW performed consistently well across most of the attributes while Nordstrom ranked first in seven of the nine categories – from customer service to atmosphere to merchandise selection. It didn’t fare as well in value, a distinction that went to Payless ShoeSource. Nike and Shoe Carnival emerged in the top three rankings for nearly all of the attributes.

Nike ranked number two in six of the nine categories including service, atmosphere, selection, designer lines, unique shoes and loyalty program. Payless Shoes topped the chart for value and Shoe Carnival also ranked high for several categories including value, service, atmosphere and designer lines.

“Shoes have become a pre-eminent fashion statement for women and men alike, so it is no surprise that it’s a multi-billion dollar industry with retailers fiercely battling for market share,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “While offering a variety of merchandise is clearly a retail differentiator, our findings show that discerning consumers also strongly value great customer service, loyalty programs, a liberal return policy and unique footwear choices.”

When survey respondents were asked to rate how satisfied they were by their experiences at the nine top-ranking shoe retailers, Nordstrom came out on top, followed by Nike, Shoe Carnival, DSW and Target. To gauge if high satisfaction levels drive recommendations, Market Force asked respondents how likely they were to recommend these stores to others. Nordstrom was again a clear favorite, pointing to a correlation between customer satisfaction and willingness to recommend. Of the top retailers studied, Walmart ranked the lowest on the Customer Delight Index.

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