Bedbugs — nocturnal, bloodsucking insects about the size of an apple seed and notoriously tough to eradicate — are taking a bite out of Manhattan business this summer. The bugs may be little, but their effect can be big, from damaging a brand's image, to sparking major changes in retailers' return policies, to requiring frequent pest-control checkups that can cost thousands of dollars a visit.
REI may be one of the best companies at turning shopping into an experience and turning customers into devoted patrons. That's because REI isn't merely a place to pick up parkas, tents or bikes. It's a store where customers can go to learn how to use a GPS device on a trail, figure out which local waterways offer the best kayaking for beginners and discover what to pack for a summit attempt on a 14,000-foot peak. It's a place where outdoor enthusiasts go to be inspired.
Back-to-school spending may rise as much as 16 percent in the U.S. this year, reversing year-ago declines and putting more muscle behind the economic rebound. Families with students plan to spend about $55.1 billion in the period, compared with $47.5 billion a year earlier, the National Retail Federation said, citing consumers surveyed by BIGResearch.
Retail sales fell in June for the second straight month, more evidence that the recovery will slow in the second half of the year. Spending on retail goods dropped 0.5 percent in June, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That followed a 1.1 percent fall in May. Excluding autos, spending was down 0.1 percent in June. Pulling down the overall June figures was a drop in auto sales and declining gas prices. When taking those out, sales would have risen 0.1 percent for the month.
Mounting job losses and other economic realities caught up with Americans in June, pushing down a key barometer of consumer sentiment after a streak of gains built on glimmers of hope. Some economists say the reality check offered by Tuesday's report from the New York-based Conference Board may not augur well for spending in the critical months ahead. The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 49.3, down from its revised May level of 54.8.
Apple fans queued overnight by the hundreds outside stores in the United States, Europe and Japan to snap up the latest iPhone, setting a new benchmark in the fast-growing smartphone market. It sold a record 600,000 in pre-orders in a single day last week, and BGC analyst Colin Gillis expects Apple to set a record for being the first company to sell a million smartphones in a single day.
Amazon.com, the world’s largest online merchant, won the top spot in an annual survey of the healthiest U.S. and Canadian retailers for a second year in a row as more shoppers make purchases online. Amazon’s technology keeps inventory levels and expenses down, said Consensus Advisors Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Hara, whose firm did the survey. Aeropostale, Urban Outfitters, CVS Caremark Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores round out the top five in the list, released this week.
As the economy continues its slow rebound, Americans will spend slightly more paying homage to the most important men in their lives this Father’s Day. According to NRF’s 2010 Father’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average person will spend $94.32 on dear ole dad this year, up from $90.89 last year. Total Father’s Day spending is expected to reach $9.8 billion.