MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Two-thirds of consumers to buy gift cards in spring, summer

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — More than two-thirds of U.S. shoppers will buy gift cards during the spring and summer seasons, according to a just-released survey by the Retail Gift Card Association.

Buying occasions include Mother’s Day, graduation and weddings. Key findings of the RGCA spring and summer gift card study, which polled more than 1,100 American shoppers, include:

• A full 100% of survey respondents have used a retail gift card in the last year, 77% have given one in the last year, and more than two thirds plan to give one in the next three months.

• More than two thirds of consumers would buy a gift card for their mothers on Mother’s Day. 21% will choose gift cards to a restaurant, while 19% will give cards for either spa and leisure or department stores.

• Gift cards are a very popular gift for graduates, with the overwhelming number of shoppers selecting cards from online marketplaces (45%). Fuel cards are also popular for this younger demographic (21%) as are cards for department stores (13%).

• 79% of shoppers would give a retail gift card as a wedding gift. Department store gift cards are the top choice (26%) followed closely by online marketplaces (20%). Home improvement gift cards will also be popular this year (13%).

• The most popular gift card for Father’s Day will be those from home improvement stores, with 23% of shoppers selecting this option. Restaurants (19%) and online marketplaces (10%) will also be chosen this year.

• An overwhelming 85% of shoppers would select a gift card for a teacher present. This year, the most popular types are restaurant (29%), and online marketplaces (25%).

• $25 is the most popular denomination of gift card to be given over the next three months, with 44% of consumers indicating this is the average amount they will load on each card. 24% will give $50 denominations and 6% will give $100.

"Our survey showed that gift cards remain popular choices for two key reasons: gift givers can be assured recipients will be able to purchase what they want, and the cards are convenient for recipients since they can be spent in-store, online or on their mobile phones," said Mary Donovan, executive director of the RGCA.

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OPERATIONS

Canadian fashion retailer Jacob to close all 92 stores

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Montreal — After a failed attempt to restructure under bankruptcy protection, Canadian fashion retailer Boutique Jacob said it will liquidate its inventory and close all 92 stores.

The Montreal-based chain, which operates the Jacob, Jacob Outlet and Jacob Liquidation banners, exited bankruptcy protection in 2011 and has been unable to return to profitability. According to a Reuters report, the company said it was hurt by a challenging economy as well as competition from international brands that have debuted in Canada in recent years.

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FINANCE

GNC Holdings profit slides in Q1

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Pittsburgh — GNC Holdings reported that net income for the quarter ended March 31 dipped to $69.9 million, from $72.6 million in the year-ago period.

Retail revenue grew 3.1% to $509.0 million, compared to $493.5 million for first quarter 2013, driven primarily by strength from the e-commerce sector. Consolidated revenue edged up 1.9% to $677.3 million. Same-store sales decreased 0.7%.

“January and February were affected by severe weather across large parts of the country, resulting in a delayed start to the workout season,” said Joe Fortunato, GNC president and CEO. “Recent trends have also been affected by an unusually significant amount of negative media, and year-over-year sales hurdles in the third-party diet and pre-workout categories. Based on our current information it looks like these recent trends will persist for the next few quarters.”

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