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Consumer spending continues to take a hit, Deloitte Consumer Spending Index finds

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Rising unemployment claims, coupled with rising food and energy prices, prompted a decline in consumer spending outlook for May, according to Deloitte.

The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index, which is comprised of four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — fell to 2.66%, from an upwardly revised gain of 3.29% a month ago.

“The labor market indicators are the primary cause of weakness in the index; however, the economy is up against other temporary headwinds that suggest weak growth may persist for the near term,” Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly index Carl Steidtmann said. “Rising food and energy prices continue to hurt real wages, which combined with Americans’ insecurities about the job market, compound the pressure on consumer spending.”

In April, the index experienced the sharpest single-month decline since November 2007.

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Consumers likely putting off back-to-school shopping

BY DSN STAFF

LOS ANGELES — Back-to-school shopping likely will take place even later this year than in 2010, as consumers hope to score last-minute deals, the latest forecast from PriceGrabber revealed.

PriceGrabber, a part of Experian, found that 95% of consumers are planning to use some sort of money-saving technique when back-to-school shopping, and they plan to start shopping later in 2011 than they did in 2010.

According to the survey, 49% of back-to-school shoppers plan to make purchases in August, compared with 38% who said that in 2010. Only 14% said they will begin shopping in June, versus 26% in 2010.

PriceGrabber found that the reason for the delay is because shoppers want more time to compare prices online and take advantage of last-minute discounts. The survey found that 69% of consumers will shop online or use comparison shopping websites, and 41% will visit retailer websites to print out coupons.

Though shoppers may be delaying their purchases, economic concerns have most saying they will spread them out, with 55% saying they will distribute the cost of purchases over a longer time period.

"While the economic climate is beginning to improve, we are not surprised to see that back-to-school shoppers remain cautiously optimistic," PriceGrabber general manager Graham Jones said. "Further analysis of the data supports the idea that consumers are careful to distribute their purchases over an extended period, if possible. However, shoppers are also becoming increasingly savvy and open to taking advantage of online shopping solutions that they may not have considered in the past, as can be seen by many consumers’ decisions to begin shopping at a later date."

When back-to-school shoppers do get around to making purchases, they will be budget-conscious. Of the consumers who are shopping for back-to-school items this year, 52% planned to spend as much as they did last year, and 35% planned to spend less. Only 13% planned to spend more this year because of the economic recovery.

The survey was conducted between May 12 and 19 and includes responses from 2,612 U.S. online consumers.

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Nickelodeon launches ‘Victorious’ product line at Walmart

BY Allison Cerra

LAS VEGAS — Nickelodeon is launching the first products themed after one of its live-action comedy series exclusively at Walmart.

U.S. and Canadian Walmart stores will carry the more than 250 products based on the show "Victorious," including apparel, accessories, entertainment and school supplies. Most stores will begin carrying the items in July through the back-to-school shopping season.

What’s more, Walmart also will carry the "Victorious: Season One, Volume One" DVD beginning July 5, as well as the "Victorious" CD soundtrack and a special Nickelodeon CD featuring live-action stars from the network’s popular shows, which will be exclusively available at Walmart. Both CDs will be released on Aug. 2.

"We’re introducing a line of ‘Victorious’ products that match the fun, energy and humor that fans have come to expect from the show," said Ron Johnson, SVP retail development for Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group. "By working with Walmart on this exclusive launch, we’re ensuring this dynamic ‘Victorious’-themed product line that includes apparel, school supplies and toys will be available to millions of kids, tweens and teens across the country."

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