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Survey: Prom spending drops

BY Dan Berthiaume

Foster City, Calif. – American households with teens are reining in prom spending in 2014. According to a new survey of 4,000 consumers by Visa, the American average household will spend $978 in 2014 on the prom.

That’s down more than 14% from the average $1,139 families spent on items including attire, limousine rental, tickets, and dinner in 2013. The sharp decrease follows three years of steady increases. By way of comparison, Canadian households will spend about 25% less than American households, at $723.

Despite the drop this year, prom spending still remains disproportionately high and represents a major expense for American families with high school students. Visa is introducing a new, updated free smartphone app that helps parents and teenagers plan and budget every aspect of the prom.

Parents who earn less than $50,000 a year plan to spend significantly less than the national average, $733, while parents who make more than $50,000 will spend an average of $1,151. Parents younger than 40 years of age plan to spend almost 30% more than parents older than the age of 40 at $1,074, compared to $842. In addition, men plan to spend $1,357, more than double the $673 women plan to spend.

The Visa survey also found that parents are planning to pay for 56% of prom costs, while their teens are covering the remaining 44%. Visa’s prom survey also revealed some regional and economic disparities. States on the West Coast led the nation, spending even more than they did last year. The Midwest, once again, is spending the least, although they too are spending more than last year. The Northeast saw a 27% reduction in spending and the South a 23% drop, when compared with 2013. Regionally, the survey found:

• Western families will spend an average of $1,125
• Northeastern families will spend an average of $1,104
• Southern families will spend an average of $926
• Midwestern families will spend an average of $835

“It is no secret that merchants increasingly want a user experience that parallels that of a consumer electronics device,” said Bill Nelson, executive VP of global product management for VeriFone. “The VX 690 achieves this goal while providing 3G connectivity that is critical in many markets where 2G networks are transitioning to 3G. The user experience of the terminal combined with its robustness, flexibility, and technical communication capabilities will not only enable payments today — it will enable commerce tomorrow.”

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Forte Payment Systems launches acceptance platform

BY Dan Berthiaume

Allen, Texas — Forte Payment Systems is launching Forte Checkout, an intuitive platform for online payment acceptance that supports electronic check in addition to credit and debit card payment methods. Forte Checkout integrates seamlessly and securely to applications that need payment handling capabilities.

The solution can also be configured to operate in e-wallet mode that allows payers to save their address and payment information for a streamlined checkout process when making future payments. Other features include authentication, total user experience control, swipe support, and tokenization.

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Review world rocking after Bazaarvoice decision

BY CSA STAFF

Consumer reviews provider Viewpoints is poised to acquire PowerReviews from Bazaarevoice after a court agreed with the Department of Justice that Bazarrevoice’s acquisition of PowerReviews two years earlier was anticompetitive.

Bazaarvoice and Viewpoints said they entered into a non-binding letter of intent whereby Viewpoints would acquire substantially all of the assets associated with Bazaarvoice’s acquisition of PowerReviews. Terms of the proposed agreement were not disclosed and the deal requires approval from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. However, when Bazaarvoice’s acquisition of PowerReviews was first announced in May 2012 the largely all stock deal was valued at $168 million. The acquisition was announced three months after Bazaarvoice had completed a successful initial public offering of nearly 11 million shares priced at $12 a share, which netted the company proceeds of $116 million.

The Department of Justice disputed the combination on anticompetitive grounds and by January of 2013 Bazaarvoice was faced with the onerous task of defending the merits of the deal against the federal government. One year later, the court in the Northern District of California sided with the Department of Justice in a ruling that was a major blow for Austin-based Bazaarvoice. The company founded in 2005 had yet to generate an annual profit by the end of its most recent fiscal year and through the nine month period ended Jan. 31, 2014 had posted a loss of $39.5 million on revenues of $138 million.

"Since the district court issued its ruling in favor of the Department of Justice, we have been engaged in a thoughtful process to identify and reach agreement with an appropriate entity to which we could divest the PowerReviews business consistent with the court’s decision and views expressed by the DOJ," said Gene Austin, CEO and president of Bazaarvoice. "Viewpoints is an established, committed ratings and reviews provider with experience serving both the consumer and business markets. After a thorough assessment, we believe this divestiture proposal achieves the best possible outcome for our clients, shareholders and employees."

According to Viewpoints founder and CEO Matt Moog, the PowerReviews technology platform provides a world-class, scalable and easy-to-manage platform to hundreds of leading brands and retailers.

“The opportunity to add the PowerReviews platform alongside our recently-launched Viewpoints Pulse service will extend our ability to serve the enterprise market, which promises to create significant additional value for brands and their end customers as we scale our ability to collect reviews of their products and services,” Moog said.

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