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Retailers in for a near-record Valentine’s Day

BY Marianne Wilson

U.S. consumers are going all in for February 14.

Consumers are expected to spend an average $143.56 on Valentine’s Day, an increase from last year’s $136.57, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year.

The numbers are the second-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, topped only by the record $146.84 and $19.7 billion seen in 2016. Valentine’s Day shoppers plan to spend $4.7 billion on jewelry (given by 19%), $3.7 billion on an evening out (35%), $2 billion on flowers (36%), $1.9 billion on clothing (17%), $1.5 billion on gift cards/gift certificates (15%) and $894 million on greeting cards (46%). More consumers plan on purchasing candy this year, with 55% (up from 50%) saying they will give gifts of candy for a total of $1.8 billion.

Much the same as last year, consumers plan to shop at department stores (35%), discount stores (32%), online (29%), specialty stores (19%), florists (17%), and local small businesses (14%).

More than a quarter (27%) of consumers who are not observing the holiday have an alternative in mind such as treating themselves in some way or getting together with family and friends.

This year’s survey found consumers plan to spend an average $88.98 on their significant other/spouse ($12.1 billion), $25.29 on other family members such as children or parents ($3.5 billion), $7.26 on children’s classmates/teachers ($991 million), $7.19 on friends ($982 million), $5.50 on pets ($751 million) and $4.79 on co-workers ($654 million). Those 25-34 will be the biggest spenders, at an average of $202.76.

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Starbucks’ newest offering is a credit card

BY Marianne Wilson

Starbucks is hoping to give a jolt to sales with its new credit card.

The coffee giant and Chase have launched a co-branded credit card that is tied directly into the chain’s rewards loyalty program. Customers who use the Starbucks Rewards card earn points (or “stars) with every purchase both in and out of Starbucks stores wherever Visa is accepted.

Cardmembers will also become members of the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, which counts some 14 million members. The card has an annual fee of $49. Starbucks plans to launch a second co-branded product, the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card, launch later this year.

“It’s important to us to make earning Rewards as easy for our customers as possible, and the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card is a powerful tool for us to do that because of how easily it fits into their daily lives,” said Matt Ryan, executive VP and chief strategy officer for Starbucks. “This credit card also makes every day more rewarding for Starbucks and Chase customers through the ability to quickly earn Stars and benefits — including more food and beverage Rewards for any occasion.”

The new credit card is an expansion of the ongoing relationship between Chase and Starbucks. Chase Merchant Services is the payment processing partner for Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada, and Chase Pay is accepted at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S., as well as through the Starbucks mobile app.

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Luxury watch retailer acquired

BY Marianne Wilson

The largest U.S.-based luxury watch retailer has been acquired by a Swiss company.

Bucherer, a leading European retailer of fine watches and jewelry, announced that it has acquired Tourneau from an investor group led by Green Equity Investors IV, an affiliate of Leonard Green & Partners.

Founded in in 1900 and based in New York, Tourneau operates 28 retail locations across 10 states and an e-commerce website. The company is renowned for its customer service and extensive selection of new and certified pre-owned watches.

“Bucherer is a dream partner for Tourneau,” said Ira Melnitsky, CEO, Tourneau. “A Swiss company with 130 years of history in the industry, Bucherer understands fine watches like few others, making them the ideal partner for Tourneau. As our business continues to perform and grow, this is a natural next step for the company.”

Tourneau’s management will join the Bucherer team. Bucherer is based in Lucerne, Switzerland.

“With this acquisition, we will immediately introduce the Bucherer brand to millions of potential customers in one of the most important global watch and jewelry markets, said Guido Zumbühl, CEO of the Bucherer Group. “This is also a great opportunity to firmly establish the Carl F. Bucherer brand in the U.S. and introduce Bucherer Fine Jewellery into the North American market.”

The Bucherer brand has 10 stores in Germany, four stores in London, a flagship in Vienna, one location in Paris (the world’s largest watch and jewelry store), and one store in Copenhagen. It is also sold in exclusive locations in Europe, with 16 points of sale in Switzerland.

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