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Integer study: Fewer back-to-school shoppers this year, but more spending

BY David Salazar

DENVER — About 36% of shoppers don’t plan to do back-to-school shopping this year, up from 31% in 2013 and 28% in 2012, according to a new study by the Integer Group and M/A/R/C research. However, those who will shop are poised to spend more than ever.

"Shoppers are expected to spend more this year so our study showing a drop in the amount of people who will be shopping presents an interesting dynamic," the Integer Group’s SVP insight and strategy Craig Elston. "A combination of several factors could explain why a third of the respondents won't be shopping, including fewer school-age children in the home and households repurposing school supplies and merchandise to help minimize costs."

Among those who will be shopping, a little less than half will look to mass retailers for their back-to-school essentials. This number, though, is about 6% lower than it was in 2013. In fact, most shopping channels are in decline when it comes to back-to-school shoppers. The starkest contrast over the past three years is in drug stores, where only about a fourth of shoppers plan to shop this season — down nearly 10% from 2012 and 5% from 2013.

Among back-to-school shoppers, the most important thing, according to the study, is the lowest price on the items they need. Many shoppers are moving online, with about 40% of millenials planning to shop online. Additionally, more shoppers are getting the information about which retailer to visit online, with social media, retailer sites and the Internet generally gaining shoppers, while such traditional forms as newspaper circulars — down 19 points from 2013 — lose steam. However, in store, 44% of shoppers refer to circulars.

“Retailers must work to improve integration between their brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences to provide optimized product selection, availability and expedited shipping or in-store pickup,” the report said. “Brands, as well, need to ensure that back-to-school coupons and promotions feature a user-friendly and engaging digital component, including use of mobile and social media platforms.”

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Study: Vitamin D supplementation before surgery may reduce adverse outcomes

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA — Patients with low blood levels of vitamin D are at increased risk of death and serious complications after noncardiac surgery, according to a study published Friday in Anesthesia & Analgesia.
 
"Vitamin D concentrations were associated with a composite of in-hospital death, serious infections and serious cardiovascular events," according to the new research by Alparslan Turan and colleagues of the Cleveland Clinic. They believe their results warrant further study to see if giving vitamin D supplementation before surgery can reduce the risk of these adverse outcomes.
 
The researchers analyzed the relationship between vitamin D level and surgical outcomes in approximately 3,500 patients who underwent operations other than heart surgery between 2005 and 2011. Only patients who had available data on vitamin D levels around the time of surgery — from three months before to one month afterward — were included in the study.
 
The concentration of vitamin D — specifically, 25-hydroxyvitamin D — in blood samples was analyzed as a risk factor for death, cardiovascular events or serious infections while in the hospital. The analysis included adjustment for other factors, such as demographic characteristics, medical conditions and type and duration of surgery.
 
Most patients did not meet the recommended 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration of greater than 30 ng/mL. The median vitamin D level was 23.5 ng/mL — more than 60% of patients were in the range of vitamin D insufficiency (i.e., 10 ng/mL to 30 ng/mL). Nearly 20% had vitamin D deficiency (i.e., less than 10 ng/mL).
 
"Higher vitamin D concentrations were associated with decreased odds of in-hospital mortality/morbidity," the researchers wrote. For each 5 ng/mL increase in 25-hydroxyvitamin D level, the combined risk of death, cardiovascular events, or serious infections decreased by 7%.
 
Patients at the lowest level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, less than 13 ng/mL, were at highest risk of death or serious complications. Those with higher vitamin D levels, up to 44 ng/mL, had about half the risk as those in the lowest group. The association with low vitamin D was statistically significant only for cardiovascular complications, although there were "strong trends" for mortality and infections.
 
However, Turan noted that the study had some important limitations — especially the fact that it included only patients who had recent measurements of vitamin D levels. They may represent a less healthy group, introducing a potential source of selection bias.
 
The study can't determine whether there is any cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin D levels and the risk of adverse outcomes. Turan and colleagues suggested a formal randomized trial to evaluate whether preoperative vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of serious complications and death after surgery.
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Kardashians to launch new beauty line

BY Ryan Chavis

NEW YORK — The Kardashian clan will partner with Farouk Systems for a line of salon-quality hair styling products. Kardashian Beauty — which features styling products, tools and accessories — will make its debut in spring 2015.

"Farouk Systems is a company of hairdressers dedicated to creating beauty, new trends and innovative styling products, so the partnership with Kourtney, Kim and Khloe to introduce Kardashian Beauty was a natural fit," said Basim Shami, CEO of Farouk Systems. "Our team worked hand-in-hand with the sisters to create a premium product line directly inspired by their iconic styles and individual hair needs, while also honoring our company's commitment to offer superior quality professional products."

Although performance and quality were extremely important when developing the line, Kardashian beauty reflects the sisters' desire to bring high-end products to consumers at an affordable price.

"We have been developing Kardashian Beauty carefully with our fans' needs in mind, as well as our individual hair care needs," said the Kardashian sisters. "Our personal desire for healthy, beautiful hair and hands-on product development has allowed us to design products we felt were missing in the market."
 

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