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BTS shopping budgets drop, Internet remains go-to source for deals

BY Allison Cerra

LOS ANGELES — Back-to-school budgets will moderately decrease this year, but more consumers will turn to the Internet to score the best deals.

According to a survey conducted by PriceGrabber, 48% of shoppers said they plan to spend $250 or more on back-to-school purchases, while 25% will spend $500 or more. This compared with 2010, when 56% of consumers indicated that they would spend $250 or more, while 31% planned to spend $500 or more.

As shoppers have reported they would scale back, many of them will look to the Internet for the best deals; 69% of survey respondents plan to shop online and use comparison shopping sites, while 41% will visit retailer websites to print out coupons.

"The modest but meaningful decrease in BTS shopping budgets this year demonstrates the lasting impact the recession is having on consumers’ mindsets," stated Graham Jones, general manager of PriceGrabber. "As consumers adjust to the new economic reality, they become smarter about their purchases over time. Given the Internet’s unrivaled ability to save shoppers time and money, it comes as no surprise to us that more consumers are flocking to online shopping and comparison shopping sites in 2011 to keep their budgets low and find the best discounts."

Among the top items on the back-to-school shopping lists are classic school supplies, such as binders and pencils (79%); clothing (75%); new backpacks or tote bags (47%); and books (44%).

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As Hispanic population grows, retailers recognize importance of reaching group

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The Hispanic microsite on Kroger’s new website for its baby products line comes at a time when the country’s Hispanic population growth outpaces that of the country’s total population.

(THE NEWS: New website born for Kroger baby products line. For the full story, click here.)

According to recently released 2010 Census data, the Hispanic population increased by 43% between 2000 and 2010, with Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans constituting the largest groups. By contrast, the total population of the country grew by 9.7%.

Obviously the addition of people moving into the continental United States explains much of the growth, but so does childbirth. For that reason, a retailing giant with nationwide reach, such as Kroger, would be remiss not to take tap into this rapidly growing market.

Not only that, but research indicated that social media are an increasingly important way for companies to communicate with consumers about everything from new products and services to product alerts to ways to save money. According to research conducted in May by VeraQuest on behalf of marketing and public relations firm Robin Leedy & Associates, friends are just as able to influence people’s over-the-counter and health-and-beauty product purchases as TV.

According to a report released in June 2010 by ComScore, 16.3% of women are social networking when online, compared with 11.7% of men, and 0.9% of women spend their time online on blogs versus 0.8% of men. Indeed, the VeraQuest survey found that blog reviews had greater influence on younger women than older women.

This all represents a market that is ripe for the picking by retailers, especially considering that suppliers have jumped in already. In June, Nestlé USA announced the launch of Nestlé Aguas Frescas, a line of canned beverages with flavors popular in Latin America, such as tamarind, horchata and hibiscus. Nestlé spokesman Juan Motta stated at the time, “Nestlé Aguas Frescas delivers the refreshing and authentic taste of home with the convenience of a ready-to-drink format for the U.S. lifestyle.”

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Yankee Candle ‘falls’ into scents of autumn

BY Allison Cerra

SOUTH DEERFIELD, Mass. — Yankee Candle is welcoming autumn with a new collection of scented candles.

Available now, Yankee Candle’s fall fragrance collection includes such scents as:

  • Nature’s Paintbrush: A blend of citrus, sandalwood, amber and musk, this woodsy fragrance is splashed with a hint of spice to evoke the rich colors of the outdoors;

  • Over the River: A fresh, nature-inspired scent that features relaxing fragrance notes of mandarin, soft oakmoss, soothing lavender and calming sandalwood;

  • Kitchen Spice: Hints of warm and exotic spice notes, including almond, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom, plus a vibrant rustic red color, pay tribute to this fall’s trends in the kitchen;

  • Pumpkin Buttercream: This creamy combination of two classics, Buttercream and Spiced Pumpkin, gives a more delectable, indulgent and gourmet approach to pumpkin; and

  • Vanilla Satin: A smooth fragrance of floral notes with rich vanilla, it plays to the blush trends on fashion runways while the neutral tone perfectly complements the bright colors of the fall season.

"Our vibrant new fall fragrance collection evokes wonderful seasonal memories, such as time outdoors with family or baking favorite autumn treats," said Hope Margala Klein, SVP brand, design and innovation for Yankee Candle. "Whether in our classic large jar or in a tumbler or votive, our fall fragrances are the ideal home decor accent and add a sense of warmth and comfort."

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