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Deloitte Survey: Economic Optimism Warms Holiday Shoppers

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Deloitte Survey: Economic Optimism Warms Holiday Shoppers
Source: Deloitte

Optimism about the economy is kindling holiday cheer as shoppers plan to spend more this year and tech-savvy shoppers have even higher spending expectations, according to Deloitte’s 29th annual holiday survey. Among the findings:

Holiday spending to increase — consumers who shop across store, mobile and online channels are expected to spend more than single-channel shoppers

  • Total holiday spending is predicted to increase by 13 percent to $1,299 per household, and includes gifts, socializing away from home, entertaining at home, non-gift clothing for family or self, home/holiday furnishings, and any other holiday-related spending not in the other categories.
  • Spending on just gifts is expected to rise by 9 percent to $458 this year, from $421 last year.
  • Consumers who shop across store, mobile and online channels are expected to spend 66 percent more on gifts than those shopping stores only, $592 versus $357.
  • The number of gifts consumers expect to purchase increased to 13.4, up from 12.9 in 2013, but nearly 10 gifts less than the high of 23.1 in 2007.
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Measuring Price Discrimination and Steering on E-commerce Web Sites

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Measuring Price Discrimination and Steering on E-commerce Web Sites (PDF)
Source: Northeastern University

Today, many e-commerce websites personalize their content, including Netflix (movie recommendations), Amazon (product suggestions), and Yelp (business reviews). In many cases, personalization provides advantages for users: for example, when a user searches for an ambiguous query such as “router,” Amazon may be able to suggest the woodworking tool instead of the networking device. However, personalization on e-commerce sites may also be used to the user’s disadvantage by manipulating the products shown (price steering) or by customizing the prices of products (price discrimination). Unfortunately, today, we lack the tools and techniques necessary to be able to detect such behavior.

In this paper, we make three contributions towards addressing this problem. First, we develop a methodology for accurately measuring when price steering and discrimination occur and implement it for a variety of e-commerce web sites. While it may seem conceptually simple to detect differences between users’ results, accurately attributing these dfferences to price discrimination and steering requires correctly addressing a number of sources of noise. Second, we use the accounts and cookies of over 300 real-world users to detect price steering and discrimination on 16 popular e-commerce sites. We find evidence for some form of personalization on nine of these e-commerce sites. Third, we investigate the effect of user behaviors on personalization. We create fake accounts to simulate different user features including web browser/OS choice, owning an account, and history of purchased or viewed products. Overall, we find numerous instances of price steering and discrimination on a variety of top e-commerce sites.

Why Are Wal-Mart and Target Next-Door Neighbors?

October 21, 2014 Comments off

Why Are Wal-Mart and Target Next-Door Neighbors? (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board

One of the most notable changes in the U.S. retail market over the past twenty years has been the rise of Big Box stores, retail chains characterized by physically large stores selling a wide range of consumer goods at discount prices. A growing literature has examined the impacts of Big Box stores on other retailers and consumers, but relatively little is known about how Big Box stores choose locations. Because Big Box stores offer highly standardized products and compete primarily on price, it is likely that they will seek to establish spatial monopolies, far from competitor stores. In this paper, I examine where new Big Box stores locate with respect to three types of existing establishments: own-firm stores, other retailers in the same product space (competitors), and retailers in other product spaces (complements). Results indicate that new Big Box stores tend to avoid existing own-firm stores and locate near complementary Big Box stores. However, there is little evidence that new Big Boxes avoid competitors. Firms in the same product space may not be perfect substitutes, or firms may prefer to share consumers in a desirable location rather than cede the entire market to competitor firms.

National Retail Federation — Halloween Headquarters

October 15, 2014 Comments off

Halloween Headquarters
Source: National Retail Federation

Halloween will be celebrated in record numbers in 2014, with more than two-thirds of Americans buying Halloween costumes this year. Total spending for the holiday on costumes, decorations, candy and more is estimated at $7.4 billion.

See also: Spook-tacular Halloween Sales Expected This Year (IBISWorld)

U.S. Consumers Plan to Increase Holiday Spending This Year, Supported by Greater Optimism about Personal Finances, Accenture Study Finds

October 13, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Consumers Plan to Increase Holiday Spending This Year, Supported by Greater Optimism about Personal Finances, Accenture Study Finds
Source: Accenture

Amid signs of increased optimism about their personal finances, one-quarter (25 percent) of U.S. consumers plans to spend more on holiday shopping this year compared to 20 percent in 2013, and spending on holiday gifts is expected to average $718, according to Accenture’s (NYSE:ACN) annual holiday shopping survey.

The survey also found consumer enthusiasm for Black Friday shopping has reached its highest level in eight years. Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) said they are likely to shop on Black Friday, compared to 55 percent who planned to do so in 2013 and 44 percent who said the same back in 2007. In addition, 37 percent plan to shop online during that period using a desktop, mobile device or tablet, which is up from 32 percent in 2013. Plans to shop on Thanksgiving Day and evening rose to 45 percent from 38 percent in 2013. Of those consumers planning to shop on the holiday, 47 percent said that they will be shopping in a physical store between 6 PM Thanksgiving Day and 5 AM on Black Friday.

See also: Optimism shines as national retail federation forecasts holiday sales to increase 4.1% (National Retail Federation)

Disney’s Frozen Characters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Top Children’s Costume List

October 9, 2014 Comments off

Disney’s Frozen Characters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Top Children’s Costume List
Source: National Retail Federation

Having taken the world by storm this year, Disney’s Frozen and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle characters will again come to life this Halloween. According to NRF’s 2014 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, an estimated 2.6 million children plan to dress up as one of Disney’s Frozen characters, while about 1.8 million children will dress as one of the re-imagined classic characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Princess (3.4 million), animal (3 million), and Spider-Man (2.6 million) will be other popular choices for children.

Trends in producer prices between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail trade establishments

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Trends in producer prices between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail trade establishments
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Electronic retailing, or e-commerce, is becoming an increasingly important activity within the U.S. economy. As a component of the retail trade index within the Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index (PPI) program, the electronic retailing index measures changes in margins received by retailers who conduct sales transactions online.

In the first quarter of 2004, the incidence of retailers conducting electronic retailing was considered minor, making up only 2 percent of total U.S. retail sales. But from 2003 to 2006, electronic retail sales increased an average of 28 percent annually. Then, by the first quarter of 2014, e-commerce grew to about 6 percent of total retail sales in the United States. Between 2009 and 2014, e-commerce sales increased at an average annual rate of 16 percent, compared with a 5-percent growth rate in total retail sales.

This Beyond the Numbers article describes the electronic shopping and mail-order houses industry group within the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and compares the factors affecting changes in margins for brick-and-mortar establishments and e-commerce establishments. The article compares changes in margins between the two types of establishments for three specific stores: furniture, clothing, and electronics.

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