Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday News & Notes

  • The Science Behind How Online Retailers Turn You Into A Customer For Life (Business Insider)
  • What a Shock...the Gourmet Cupcake Bubble is Popping (WSJ)
  • Trickle Down Retail: Mass Takes A Few Cues From the Higher End (WWD)
  • Tale of Two Supermarkets: Why Fresh & Easy Flopped and Fairway Flies High (Time)
  • What's the Worth of a Facebook Fan? (Mashable) and Social Networking For Marketers: How Pinterest Crushes Facebook (ReadWrite)
  • Sales of men's underwear & socks as an economic indicator? (MarketWatch)
  • How Consumers Spend Their Time Online (Experian)
  • Are You Listening to Your Most Important Customers? (HBR)
  • The End of Full-Time Work in the American Retail Service Sector (Forbes)
  • Despite Target's entry into Canada, cross-border shopping is on the rise (The Globe and Mail)
  • The Teen Transition: Adolescents of Today, Adults of Tomorrow (Nielsen)
  • Attention Retailers: Amazon Prime members are located in Aisle 5 (Compete) and Amazon hopes its original TV shows convince more to become Prime members (Washington Post)

It's hard to get a read on the American consumer these days: 
  • On the plus side, gas prices have come down significantly, the job market continues to improve, and rising house and stock prices are bolstering household wealth
  • On the other hand, consumers are confronted with less-take home pay due to higher payroll taxes, delayed tax refunds, and austerity measures which appear to be constraining economic growth
The 15 or so consumer confident/sentiment indicators we track are showing a cloudy picture and consumers have been cautious with their spending in the first quarter of the year, but today Bloomberg reported that its Consumer Comfort Index reached a 5-year high last week.

The differences across demographics are telling, and show the recovery has been much better for some: Those taking home more than $50k per year were the least pessimistic in more than five years, and those with incomes greater than $100k were the most optimistic in more than two years. However, sentiment among those making less than $25k annually dropped, and part-time employees also grew more pessimistic.
"Upper-income Americans continue to feel buoyant on the sustainable recovery," said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. "The difficulties that can be observed down the income ladder reflect the significant split in the fortunes of upper-income Americans and low-income cohorts."
“The question is whether consumer sentiment can maintain enough momentum to keep pushing on up,” Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates in New York, which compiles the index for Bloomberg, said in a statement. “Recent trends -- a down January, an up February, a mostly flat March, now this surge -- suggest a bumpy ride, but at least one that’s headed in the right direction.”

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