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FirstData: Retail dollar volume up 5.3% Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday

BY Marianne Wilson

Year-over-year (YOY) retail dollar volume from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday grew 5.3%, a decrease from last year’s growth of 7.4%, according to First Data 2014 SpendTrend Holiday Shopping Spend Analysis, which examined consumer spending from more than one million merchant locations over the five-day period.Similarly, retail transaction growth was 5.0% compared to 6.0% in 2013.

“Despite only modest growth from last year, there were some encouraging signs in the data, including a shift from debit to credit card usage that indicates strong consumer confidence,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, Information and Analytics Solutions, First Data . “The boost in credit spending may indicate that consumers are feeling more confident about their current financial situation, likely driven by the improvement in the labor market and reduction in gasoline prices.”

The retail categories that experienced the highest growth overall were building material & garden equipment, electronics & appliances, and furniture & home furnishings at 10.4%, 10.0%, and 8.6%, respectively. Despite the fact that many shoppers were purchasing electronics and appliances over the weekend, deep discounting decreased the overall ticket spend. The category had the largest decline in average ticket price, from $149.49 to $131.26.

Clothing and accessories experienced the biggest drop YOY in spending, from 8.9% last year to just 3% growth this year, followed by general merchandise retailers and health and personal care stores.

While consumers are showing confidence, economic and demographic trends, along with the inclement weather in the Northeast and South, was enough to keep some shoppers home over the holiday weekend. The states with the lowest overall sales growth were Kentucky (-3.1%) and Maine (-1.7%).

Regional sales growth across the nation was dominated by the West, which were home to the states with the largest overall growth. These include Utah (14.7%) and Oregon (11.1%).

Retailers that opened early on Thanksgiving succeeded in getting shoppers to the store earlier, but the sales tactic did not make a significant impact as Thanksgiving Day, comparatively, was the lowest performing of all five days.

Additionally, late night shoppers seemed to stay home this year, as overnight shopping from Thanksgiving into Black Friday decreased between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The data suggests, however, that shoppers are ready to spend in the evening hours on Thursday. The hours of 5-7 p.m. on Thanksgiving showed significantly higher spending than the same time block last year. Overnight shopping from Thanksgiving into Black Friday decreased between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

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Food City lets customers do it themselves with self-checkout

BY Dan Berthiaume
Abingdon, Va. – Sometimes the best customer services comes from customers themselves. Food City, K-V-A-T Food Stores Inc. has completed a pilot test of the Fujistsu U-Scan Genesis II self-checkout solution.

The U-Scan Genesis II hardware and software solution exceeded all performance criteria during extensive testing in a real-world production store pilot. Store employees reported benefits including faster customer transactions, better functionality from scanners and bill acceptors, and ease of adaptation for employees and shoppers. Store employees and customers reported satisfaction scores exceeding 90%.

"The Fujitsu Genesis II Self-Checkout Solution, including the new technology enhancements and increased self-checkout speeds, have significantly helped us improve our level of service and the customer experience," said Don Mascola, VP of IT and in-store service at Food City, K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. "Fujitsu is our partner of choice because they truly listen to our needs, understand our customers and are invested in helping us achieve our business goals by delivering solutions that are tailor-made for an ever-evolving retail industry."

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Five Hot Stores for a Cold Winter

BY Marianne Wilson

The fall is always a busy time for new store openings as retailers head into their biggest selling season of the year. The five below are generating big buzz….as is the bonus one at the end.

1. Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, Seattle
The coffee giant spared no expense on its newest retail concept—the space is spectacular. Two years in the making, the Roastery is part retail store and part manufacturing facility—and all theatre.
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2. Nasty Gal, Los Angeles
In one of the most anticipated online to offline debuts to date, the teen fave lived up to its irreverent and sassy reputation with a store that sure to please its cult-like followers.
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3. Citizen Watch, New York
Watch stores generally don’t make for the most exciting retail, but Citizen Watch’s sophisticated store design and interactive features make it a stand-out.
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4. Ugg, McLean, Va.
Ugg Australia’s store at Tyson’s Galleria uses the latest in technology, including RFID, to offer a shopping experience that integrates the brand’s online experience in the physical space.
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5. Sport Chek, Burnaby, British Columbia
Canada’s Sport Chek brings digital technology to the forefront through more than 190 individual screens, 60 tablets, nearly 100 computers and interactive and gesture-enabled video walls.
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And a special bonus just for fun:
Zappos, Las Vegas – Leave it to Zappos to open a 20,000 sq.-ft. holiday pop-up that is open 24/7 round the clock! The store's POS system is connected to Zappos's distribution centers and shoppers are able to purchase anything the retailer carries from their smart device.
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