Purchase, N.Y. -- Excluding auto sales, total retail sales in April 2011 grew by 8.8% year-over-year, stronger than March’s growth rate, and substantially higher than the average 7.1% year-to-year growth rate of the previous quarter, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and service sales. While spending on gasoline has helped drive overall sales figures to some extent, retail sales ex-gasoline show few signs of abating. Seasonally adjusted retail sales excluding both autos and gasoline were up by 1.4% in April, the fourth straight month of growth. “We have not seen this sort of sustained

Patient: Doc, our catalog works great for our core audience. We know this because we get tons of love letters from customers. So why can’t we improve response rates and grow faster? Catalog Doctor: Just like building your body, building a strong core audience for your catalog is important. But if you only work on your core, you may be leaving the rest of yourself weak. Patient: You mean, like strong abs aren’t enough? I also have to build up my arms and legs? Catalog Doctor: Exactly. You must focus harder on selling to your marginal audience, not just your core. Make it

Your e-catalog is set for international release. You’re using the local currencies, culturally relevant copy, the best international character set in the business, and the native language right down to the intricacies of dialect that can change in a matter of a few blocks. What could stand in your way? Payment. If you are only offering payment by check or credit card, you’ll significantly bottleneck response rates. Research carried out by Forrester Research points out that 85 percent of all Internet users do not buy products online because they are unwilling to use their credit cards for Web purchases. A study conducted

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