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Walmart and CEOs meet to accelerate supply chain innovation

BY Marianne Wilson

Bentonville, Ark. — Walmart on Tuesday joined with CEOs from more than a dozen global companies to sign new commitments that accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture and recycling. The pledges kicked off Walmart’s first-ever Sustainable Product Expo, a three-day collaboration to expand the availability of products that sustain people and the environment. Together, the participating suppliers represent more than $100 billion in sales at Walmart.

Eight of the largest food companies announced pledges to help ensure that tomorrow’s food supply is affordable and sustainable for the nine billion people projected to inhabit the planet by 2050. The commitments aim to drive more collaboration and efficiency across the current food system. In total, this work is expected to bring eight million acres of farmland into sustainable agriculture programs and eliminate six million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Additionally, companies joined with Walmart and the Walmart Foundation in announcing plans to launch a groundbreaking recycling initiative called the Closed Loop Fund, with the goal of making recycling available to all Americans. The Fund aims to invest $100 million in recycling infrastructure projects and spur private and public funding for transforming the recycling system in the United States.

“Walmart and our suppliers recognize that collaboration is the key to bringing sustainable solutions to all of our customers,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Stores. “A great deal of innovative work is happening every day, but there are still too many gaps and missed opportunities. Today’s commitments are about creating real systems change from one end of the supply chain to the other — meaning how products are grown and made, how they’re transported and sold, and how we touch the lives of people along the way.”

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NRF: Consumers to spend less on Mother’s Day

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – Consumers this year will celebrate Mother’s Day keeping practicality in mind. According to NRF’s 2014 Mother’s Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, Americans will spend an average of $162.94 on Mother’s Day in 2014, down 3.5% from a survey high of $168.94 in 2013. Total spending is expected to reach $19.9 billion.

Most consumers will purchase a greeting card (81.3%), and two-thirds (66.6%) of those celebrating will buy flowers, spending a total of $2.3 billion, and 33.5% will spend a total of $1.7 billion on apparel and accessory items. Other popular items include books and CDs ($480 million), housewares or gardening tools ($812 million), personal experience gifts like a day at the spa ($1.5 billion), jewelry ($3.6 billion), and special outings like brunch or dinner ($3.8 billion).

About 13% of survey respondents say they will buy a consumer electronic item and will spend a total of $1.7 billion, down 26% from $2.3 billion last year. Spending on gift cards will rise 5% to $2.1 billion from $2 billion in 2013, with 43.3% of consumers purchasing a gift card, up from 41.5% the prior year.

Most shoppers will head to specialty stores to find gifts (33.5%), but others will shop at department stores (32.4%), discount stores (24%), and online (29%).

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Survey reports big rise in consumer confidence

BY Ryan Chavis

Chicago — Consumer confidence rose significantly in the first quarter of 2014, according to a MarketPulse survey from IRI. All age groups are reporting a more positive outlook — especially Millennials. A distressed consumer segment since the economic downturn began, this age group is showing the greatest rise in confidence.

“The headline for the first quarter is definitely the surge in consumer confidence,” said Susan Viamari, editor of Thought Leadership at IRI. “Consumers say they are feeling more confident about their household finances and don’t feel like they need to sacrifice as much in order to make ends meet. However, it’s important to remember that consumers are still entrenched in their conservative shopping strategies, so CPG marketers still need to work at finding pockets of opportunities.”

The survey also touched on shopping strategies: consumers continue to remain comfortable with shopping patterns they adopted during the downturn. Seventy percent of consumers make a shopping list before they even step foot inside a store, and 75% make their purchasing decisions before entering. IRI noted that these figures haven’t shifted since 2011.

Since 19% of all consumers (and 26% of Millennials) have trouble affording groceries, shoppers are still on the lookout for a good deal. Thirty-three percent of all consumers and 40% of Millennials buy more than one-half of their goods "on deal."

How are they getting the deals? It should come as no surprise that consumers are flocking to the Internet to scope things out:

•Twenty-nine percent download coupons from retailers’ websites;

•Twenty-nine percent download coupons from a manufacturer’s website;

•Twenty-five percent of consumers research products on website;

•Ninteen percent go to online deal sites like Groupon and SmartSource; and

•Eleven percent head over to social media platforms like Twitter to get coupons.

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