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Survey says consumers plan to reduce spending this holiday

BY Melissa Valliant

NEW YORK This season consumers are watching their wallet, shopping carefully and spending less than 10 years ago, according to a new survey by global business advisory firm AlixPartners.

AlixPartners Holiday 2008 Consumer Sentiment Index surveyed 1,000 consumers for their opinions on the economy and their plans for holiday shopping.

Forty-six percent of consumers did not foresee the tightening economy improving for at least three years. A majority—64 percent—of U.S. consumers anticipate spending less on gifts by: spending less on each individual gift (66 percent), “waiting for sales and specials” (60 percent), buying less expensive gifts (52 percent) and shopping at mass-discount stores (33 percent), with Wal-Mart and Target ranking high on the list of most chosen stores among the multiple-choice options.

“Consumers are going to be trading down in terms of which products they buy, in terms of how many products they buy, in terms of the brands they buy and in terms of the types of stores they shop in,” said Matthew Katz, head of AlixPartners’ Retail Performance Improvement Praactice and a managing director with the firm. “Department stores and specialty retailers, we believe, will be particularly hard hit; but no retailer is immune from this tidal wave that looks to be coming as an aftershock to the Wall Street crisis.”

Most U.S. consumers surveyed (87 percent), said that they believe the nation is in the midst of a recession or depression, with 20 percent stating depression.

And 74 percent report not trusting in the government’s ability to make drastic and efficient changes. Eight-six percent expect to spend less than $1,000 on gifts this holiday, 77 percent expect to spend less than last year and 37 expect to spend less than $250.

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Winn-Dixie announces new marketing leadership; results for Q1 2009

BY Jenna Duncan

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie Stores has named Mary Kellmanson to head of its marketing department and reported its earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2009, the company today announced.

Kellmanson’s daily duties will cover overseeing business and strategic operations for the Winn-Dixie advertising, communications and marketing departments. She will report to Dan Portnoy, chief merchandising and marketing officer.

Kellmanson formerly served Winn-Dixie as vice president of marketing. She came to Winn-Dixie’s management team after working for about 15 years at Wegmans Food Markets as vice president of advertising and marketing. At Wegman’s, she oversaw branding, loyalty card operations, market research, new store openings and on-line and co-op programs.

“[Kellmanson]’s strong marketing background will serve our Company well as we continue focusing our efforts on providing a fresh and local shopping experience to our customers every day,” Portnoy said. “Her passion for the retail industry, coupled with her energy and leadership will drive us to delivering our promise of getting better all the time.”

Winn-Dixie has also announced its earnings for the first quarter of 2009.

The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization totaled $27 million, reflecting a 38.5 percent increase, or an increase of $7.5 million from $19.5 million in the first quarter 2008. Winn-Dixie estimated $2.7 million in earnings due to Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, exceeding predicted storm-related losses.

However, Winn-Dixie did report a net loss of $2.3 million, ($0.04 per diluted share), compared to a net loss of $0.8 million ($0.01 per diluted share), in the first quarter of fiscal 2008. Same store sales saw an increase of 3 percent.

“We are very pleased with our financial results for the quarter,” Winn-Dixie chairman, chief excutice officer and president, Peter Lynch, said. “We improved adjusted EBITDA while also delivering solid sales growth. We also benefited from increased sales both before and after the storms that affected many of our communities in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and along the Gulf Coast. Our associates put forth a great team effort that enabled us to re-open stores quickly to better serve our customers.”

Net sales for the first quarter 2009 were reported at $1.7 billion, up or 3.4 percent or $55 million compared to the same quarter 2008.

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Ahold reports 3.9 percent increase in 3Q sales

BY Jim Wright

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands Ahold, parent company of Stop & Shop, Giant-Landover and Giant Carlisle, announced a third-quarter net sales of 3.9 percent compared with the year-ago period. The company also reported consolidated net sales of EUR 5.8 billion for the third quarter ended Oct. 5, 2008 for an increase of 7.6 percent at constant exchange rates.

“In the turbulent economic environment, our continued focus on bringing value to our customers led to a solid performance,” the company stated. “ We remain vigilant and will respond to any changes in consumer and competitor behavior.”

According to the company, net sales at Stop & Shop/Giant Landover increased 4.4 percent to $3.9 billion. Net sales included $14 million of sales to Tops. Prior to its disposal, such sales were recorded as intercompany sales.

Identical sales increased 4.6 percent at Stop & Shop (3.8 percent excluding gasoline net sales) and increased 0.7 percent at Giant-Landover (0.6 percent excluding gasoline net sales), impacted by lower pharmacy sales.

Comparable sales increased 4.8 percent at Stop & Shop and increased 1 percent at Giant-Landover.

Net sales at Giant Carlisle increased 11.8 percent to $1.1 billion.Identical sales increased 8.0 percent (5.4 percent excluding gasoline net sales) while comparable sales increased 8.7 percent.

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