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Instantly identifies what consumers intend to buy to take the edge off of the holidays

BY DSN STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO – Consumers are embracing the indulgent nature of the holidays with the latest new products on the November edition of Instantly Shelf Score. 
 
Sweet treats from chocolate brands Dove and Hershey’s earned the top two spots, while a new flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and two different brands’ take on a holiday-themed, sweet kettle corn also placing on the list.
 
Instantly Shelf Score is a monthly ranking of the newest CPG products by consumer purchase intent. Each product is evaluated using Instantly Concept Test, a rapid product concept testing tool that collects consumer feedback on key success indicators such as purchase intent, differentiation, need and value. 
 
 
 
 
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Survey highlights prevalence of seasonal mental health issues

BY David Salazar

PHOENIX — For about 45% American adults, the holiday season isn’t quite as filled with joy as one might expect, according to a new survey from the University of Phoenix’s College of Social Science. The survey found that nearly half of those surveyed have experienced sadness or depression in the fall or winter holiday season. 
 
Among those who said they’d been affected, about 44% said it was due to personal grief, 43% cited loneliness and 38% pointed to financial strain, with 41% of the total group saying they’ve witnessed family and friends dealing with seasonal sadness and depression. And 66% of those surveyed noted that mental health is a very or extremely serious issue, with 67% saying they’ve had personal experience with it. 
 
“An overwhelming majority of Americans recognize that mental health is a serious issue and many have personal experiences with mental health issues, and those feelings often intensify during the festive time of year,” the school’s dean of faculty, Tammy Woody, said. “Those prone to mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can be more vulnerable to seasonal triggers such as the financial and emotional stress that can accompany the festive time of year, which makes awareness and access to treatment critically important from November through January.”
 
Woody noted that though seeing family and friends can be beneficial for some, that is not the case for everyone, with 22% of those surveyed saying they seek counseling for family issues, and 24% seeking professional help for relationships. She said that it’s important for those suffering to acknowledge that it’s OK to express their feelings, stay active both mentally and physically, try new things, and reach out if they feel they need to. However, the survey found several barriers that people encounter when considering reaching out. 
 
For 68% of those surveyed, financial limitations are the main barrier to getting counseling, with 32% being concerned about its effectiveness and the same amount concerned about access to health insurance coverage for counseling. Thirty-one percent are concerned about social stigma and 29% are reluctant to face their problems. 
 
The survey was conducted by Harris Poll among 1,014 adults between Sept. 28 and Oct. 8. 
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Costco’s U.S. comps see slight increase in Q1

BY David Salazar

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco on Tuesday reported its sales for the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year, showing only a modest 2% rise in U.S. sales over the same quarter in FY15. The company’s net comparable U.S. sales rose to $26.63 billion from $26.28 billion last year. Excluding the effects of gasoline price deflation and foreign exchange, its sales were up in the U.S. 6%. 
 
For the entire company, including international business, comparable sales were down 1%, with the largest decrease in Canada, where comps were down 9%, largely due to the effects of foreign exchange and gas price deflation, as Canadian sales were up 9% when those factors are excluded. 
 
Net income was $480 million, down slightly from last year’s $496 million in income. Costco plans to open one new warehouse before the end of 2015.
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