Archive for the ‘retail’ Category

Discovering Regions of Different Functions in a City Using Human Mobility and POIs

August 22, 2012 Comments off

Discovering Regions of Different Functions in a City Using Human Mobility and POIs
Source: Microsoft Research

The development of a city gradually fosters different functional regions, such as educational areas and business districts. In this paper, we propose a framework (titled DRoF) that discovers Regions of different Functions in a city using both human mobility among regions and points of interests (POIs) located in a region. Specifically, we segment a city into disjointed regions according to major roads, such as highways and urban express ways. We infer the functions of each region using a topic-based inference model, which regards a region as a document, a function as a topic, categories of POIs (e.g., restaurants and shopping malls) as metadata (like authors, affiliations, and key words), and human mobility patterns (when people reach/leave a region and where people come from and leave for) as words. As a result, a region is represented by a distribution of functions, and a function is featured by a distribution of mobility patterns. We further identify the intensity of each function in different locations. The results generated by our framework can benefit a variety of applications, including urban planning, location choosing for a business, and social recommendations. We evaluated our method using large-scale and real-world datasets, consisting of two POI datasets of Beijing (in 2010 and 2011) and two 3-month GPS trajectory datasets (representing human mobility) generated by over 12,000 taxicabs in Beijing in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The results justify the advantages of our approach over baseline methods solely using POIs or human mobility.

Deloitte Survey: Back-to-School Shoppers Ready to Spend, Prepared for Higher Prices at Checkout

August 18, 2012 Comments off

Deloitte Survey: Back-to-School Shoppers Ready to Spend, Prepared for Higher Prices at Checkout
Source: Deloitte

Consumers’ days of cutting back-to-school spending are behind them, and shoppers are reverting to more traditional information sources to study up before heading to the store, according to Deloitte’s annual “Back-to-School” survey, released today.

Nearly 9 in 10 (88 percent) consumers surveyed plan to spend the same or more on back-to-school shopping this year, with higher prices a contributing factor for some families. Among those who plan to spend more this year (34 percent), nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) cite higher prices as their reason for doing so and more than one-third (34 percent) say their children need more expensive items than last year.

Despite these intentions, few intend to forego the tradition of setting a budget or looking for a sale. Nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) consumers have a budget in mind for back-to-school shopping, and while two-thirds (66 percent) say they will shop for items on sale, fewer respondents feel stores are offering them more value for their money (36 percent in 2012 versus 47 percent in 2011).

Top 10 back-to-school trends for 2012

August 15, 2012 Comments off

Top 10 back-to-school trends for 2012

Source: National Retail Federation

The tardy bell will be ringing sooner than we know it. Parents, kids and retailers have one thing on their minds: back-to-school shopping. According to the National Retail Federation, combined K-12 and college spending will reach a record $83.8 billion. That’s quite a few colored pencils and new backpacks.

See also: NRF Back to School Headquarters

Worldwide IKEA Price Comparisons

August 3, 2012 Comments off

Worldwide IKEA Price Comparisons

Source: Idealo Blog

IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer. The popularity and conformity of their products allows for an intriguing price comparison. Back in 2009, prices for the Billy Bookshelf were compared across 38 countries to create an IKEA Billy Bookshelf Index.
In our price comparison, we increased the scope to include 40 IKEA products which can be found in 33 different countries. Five products were chosen from 8 distinct home furnishing categories in order to improve the product diversity in our research and help to ensure the results are not skewed in favour of any particular country.

Since the prices for the USA do not include VAT, we compared the prices for each country both with and without VAT, based on each country’s tax rate.

2012 State Sales Tax Holidays

July 31, 2012 Comments off

2012 State Sales Tax Holidays

Source: Federation of Tax Administrators

Chart includes links to relevant pages for each state.

In it for the Long Run: True Innovation is Sustainable

July 22, 2012 Comments off

In it for the Long Run: True Innovation is Sustainable

Source:  Nielsen
As Nielsen reviewed the vast information about new product launches in the CPG space, we saw an opportunity to expand the view. We analyzed 11,000+ products launched between 2008 and 2010. We stood these launches up against our criteria for breakthrough innovations and came out with 34 clear winners. One key element in our model was examining endurance. We wanted to ensure that winning initiatives achieved at least 90% of year one sales in year two. I think we can all agree that when a product launches with high sales, but then fails to continue that pace, the success is short-lived, and probably not one you want to replicate.
There are two activation models that we’ve identified when looking at how to sustain momentum in the marketplace for breakthrough performance: marathoner and sprinters. Marathoners launch at a slower pace and build off their momentum, picking up speed as time goes on. Sprinters launch with substantial support and come out fast, rarely slowing down. More often, larger companies use this model when they are launching line extensions or a product that is relatively lower risk. These products carry a meaningful price premium, on average 1.9x the category average. But the marathoner approach is certainly capturing its share of the consumer wallets as well. These products are priced at 35 percent premium on average versus competitors in their categories. Smaller companies or brands launching products in a new category were more likely to follow this model.

Free registration required to download report.

Questions and Answers: Proposed Rule – Retail Pet Sales

July 16, 2012 Comments off

Questions and Answers: Proposed Rule – Retail Pet Sales (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Agricultural (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service)

APHIS is proposing to revise its definition of “retail pet store” to close a loophole that has in some cases threatened the health of pets sold sight unseen over the Internet and via phone- and mail-based businesses. Under the current definition of “retail pet store,” which was developed over 40 years ago and predates the Internet, some breeders selling pets are taking advantage of a loophole that improperly exempts them from meeting the basic requirements of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The proposed rule will close this loophole, ensuring that animals sold over the Internet and via phone- and mail-based businesses are better monitored for their overall health and humane treatment.

The proposal will restore the definition to its original intent so that it limits the retail pet store exemption to only those places of business and residence:

  • that buyers physically enter to observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase and/ or to take custody of the animals after purchase, and
  • where only the following animals are sold or offered for sale at retail for use as pets: Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, domestic farm animals, birds, and coldblooded species.

APHIS is also proposing to increase the number of breeding females from three to four that small hobby breeders of dogs, cats, and small exotic or wild mammals can own and still be exempt from licensing requirements. To meet the exemption requirements, these breeders can only sell the offspring of the breeding females that were born and raised on their premises, and sold for only pets or exhibition.

NRF Report Finds No Retailer Immune To Organized Retail Crime

June 24, 2012 Comments off

NRF Report Finds No Retailer Immune To Organized Retail Crime
Source: National Retail Federation

Growing in severity, number and type, retailers are reporting organized retail crime (ORC) has become more troublesome than ever before. Of the 125 retail companies surveyed for NRF’s eighth annual Organized Retail Crime Survey, a record-setting (96.0%) say their company has been the victim of organized retail crime in the past year, up from 94.5 percent last year, and another 87.7 percent say ORC activity in the United States has grown over the past three years.

“What this tells us is that as retailers and law enforcement become more aware of and more proactive in pursuing organized retail crime gangs, criminals have become more desperate and brazen in their efforts, stopping at nothing to get their hands on large quantities of merchandise,” said NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention, Rich Mellor. “Selling this stolen merchandise is a growing criminal enterprise and retailers must remain vigilant as this is an issue that involves everyone’s cooperation when it comes to protecting retailer’s assets, including their valued store associates and customers.”

The silver lining: more companies this year believe law enforcement is aware of and understands the severity and complexity of the issue (40.0% vs. 32.3% in 2011). More than half (54.4%) say top management at their company is aware of the problems associated with organized retail crime.

Spotlight on Statistics: Fashion

June 24, 2012 Comments off

Spotlight on Statistics: Fashion
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Throughout history, fashion has greatly influenced the “fabric” of societies all over the world. What people wear often characterizes who they are and what they do for a living. As Mark Twain once wrote, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

The fashion industry is a global industry, where fashion designers, manufacturers, merchandisers, and retailers from all over the world collaborate to design, manufacture, and sell clothing, shoes, and accessories. The industry is characterized by short product life cycles, erratic consumer demand, an abundance of product variety, and complex supply chains.

In this Spotlight, we take a look at the fashion industry’s supply chain—including import and producer prices, employment in the apparel manufacturing and fashion-related wholesale and retail trade industries, labor productivity in the manufacturing sector and in selected textile and apparel industries, and consumer prices and expenditures on apparel-related items.

Progress Made, but Some Handbags Still Pose Lead Threats

June 22, 2012 Comments off

Progress Made, but Some Handbags Still Pose Lead Threats

Source: Center for Environmental Health

Testing this spring of nearly 300 handbags, purses, wallets and other accessories purchased from Bay Area outlets of leading national retailers found dozens of products still contain high levels of lead. As seen tonight on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced that independent lab tests it commissioned by the found high levels of lead in purses or wallets from Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21, and many other retailers. Lead levels in the products range from nearly three times to more than 195 times higher than the level agreed to in a 2010 settlement between CEH and dozens of retailers, producers and distributors of the products.

Federal law limits lead in children’s products, but there is no federal standard for lead in adult handbags or wallets. In June 2010, CEH set a landmark industry standard by reaching legal agreements with more than 40 major retailers and vendors of handbags and other accessories sold in stores nationwide. The agreement called for no more than 300 ppm of lead in most materials used in handbags. CEH has since reached similar legal agreements with nearly 200 handbag producers, distributors and retailers.

Since February, CEH has purchased and tested nearly 300 handbags, purses, wallets, and clutches from Bay Area outlets of major retailers and online retail outlets. Lead-tainted handbags or other accessories were found at 21 retailers. More than 300 parts per million (ppm) of lead were found in materials used in 43 products. Ten of the 43 products were found with materials containing lead levels in excess of 10,000 ppm; lab testing of one Tory Burch brand wallet from Neiman Marcus found 58,700 ppm of lead in, more than 195 times higher than the 300 ppm standard.

Lead exposure has been linked to higher rates of infertility in women, an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure, among other health problems. Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for pregnant women and young children. A recent study concluded that lead exposure during pregnancy could have "lasting and possibly permanent effects" on a child’s IQ, and another study showed that lead exposure during the first trimester (three month period), when some women are not even aware that they are pregnant, had the most pronounced effects on a child’s mental development. A 2009 study showed that chronic low-level lead exposures in young women could lead to impaired mental functioning as they age.

CRS — Data Security Breach Notification Laws

May 10, 2012 Comments off

Data Security Breach Notification Laws (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

A data security breach occurs when there is a loss or theft of, or other unauthorized access to, sensitive personally identifiable information that could result in the potential compromise of the confidentiality or integrity of data. Forty-six states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have laws requiring notification of security breaches involving personal information. Federal statutes, regulations, and a memorandum for federal departments and agencies require certain sectors (healthcare, financial, federal public sector, and the Department of Veterans Affairs) to implement information security programs and provide notification of security breaches of personal information. In response to such notification laws, over 2,676 data breaches and computer intrusions involving 535 million records containing sensitive personal information have been disclosed by data brokers, businesses, retailers, educational institutions, government and military agencies, healthcare providers, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, utility companies, and Internet businesses. As a result, a significantly large number of individuals have received notices that their personally identifiable information has been improperly disclosed.

This report provides an overview of state security breach notification laws applicable to entities that collect, maintain, own, possess, or license personal information. The report describes information security and security breach notification requirements in the Office of Management and Budget’s “Breach Notification Policy,” the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA).

The Senate Judiciary Committee marked up three data security bills and reported the three bills with substitute amendments. See CRS Report R42474, Selected Federal Data Security Breach Legislation, by Kathleen Ann Ruane. S. 1151 (Leahy), the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011, would apply to business entities to prevent and mitigate identity theft, ensure privacy, provide notice of security breaches, and enhance criminal penalties. It would provide law enforcement assistance and other protections against security breaches, fraudulent access, and misuse of personally identifiable information. S. 1408 (Feinstein), the Data Breach Notification Act of 2011, would require federal agencies and persons engaged in interstate commerce, in possession of data containing sensitive personally identifiable information, to disclose any breach of such information. S. 1535 (Blumenthal), the Personal Data Protection and Breach Accountability Act of 2011, would protect consumers by mitigating the vulnerability of personally identifiable information to theft through a security breach, provide notice and remedies to consumers, hold companies accountable for preventable breaches, facilitate the sharing of postbreach technical information, and enhance criminal and civil penalties and other protections against the unauthorized collection or use of personally identifiable information. The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade marked up H.R. 2577 (Bono Mack), the SAFE Data Act, to protect consumers by requiring reasonable security policies and procedures to protect data containing personal information, and to provide for nationwide notice in the event of a security breach. Several subcommittee Democrats objected to the bill’s definition of personal information, arguing that the description is limited and does not adequately protect consumers from identity theft. The House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee approved H.R. 2577 by voice vote and the measure was referred to the full committee for consideration. H.R. 1707 (Rush) and H.R. 1841 (Stearns) were also introduced to protect consumers by requiring reasonable security policies and procedures to protect computerized data containing personal information and providing for nationwide notice in the event of a breach. Congress may address data security during its consideration of cybersecurity legislation.

Gas Prices No Match When it Comes to Mom, According to NRF Survey

April 26, 2012 Comments off

Gas Prices No Match When it Comes to Mom, According to NRF Survey
Source: National Retail Federation

Riding the coattails of a spring where they spent freely on everything from garden supplies and home décor to colorful fashions, consumers will stretch their dollars a little further this Mother’s Day to make sure mom has the perfect day. According to NRF’s 2012 Mother’s Day consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, the average person celebrating the holiday is expected to spend $152.52 on gifts, up from $140.73 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $18.6 billion.

According to the survey, consumers will spoil mom with special meals and/or outings, clothing, electronics, flowers and more. Two-thirds (66.4%) will buy flowers, spending a total of $2.2 billion, and nearly one-third (32.8%) will treat mom to a new blouse or sweater, spending $1.6 billion on clothing and accessories. Those buying electronics (12.7%) will shell out a total of $1.6 billion on tablets, digital cameras and more, and over half (54.3%) of all celebrants will treat mom to a nice dinner or brunch, spending $3.4 billion. Additionally, consumers will shell out $1.8 billion on gift cards and $1.3 billion on personal services such as a trip to a day spa.

When it comes to where people will shop, the survey found nearly two-thirds (35.6%) of gift buyers will shop at a department store, the most in the survey’s history. Adults ages 18-24 also prefer to shop at department stores where more than half (55.7%) will look for the perfect gift for mom. Other shoppers will head to discount stores (30.2%), specialty stores including jewelers, florists and electronics stores (36.3%) and specialty clothing stores (8.2%). One-quarter (25.6%) of shoppers will buy their gifts online, up from 21.5 percent last year.

+ Complete survey results (PDF)

Young, Mobile and Growing: The State of U.S. Hispanic Consumers

April 20, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Nielsen
More than 52 million strong and representing the majority of population growth over the next five years, Latinos have become prominent in all aspects of American life. A growing, evolving population, Latinos are a fundamental component to future business success, with a buying power of $1 trillion in 2010 that is projected to grow 50 percent to $1.5 trillion in 2015.
In State of the Hispanic Consumer: The Hispanic Market Imperative report, Nielsen has identified several unique circumstances that combine to make Hispanics the largest population group to exhibit culture sustainability—ever. Borderless social networking, unprecedented exchange of goods, technology as a facilitator for cultural exchange, retro acculturation, and new culture generation combine to enable Hispanic culture in the U.S. to be sustainable. In other words, Hispanic culture may evolve but will not go away.

Free registration required to download full report.

The State of the African-American Consumer

April 18, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Nielsen
As businesses look for opportunities to grow their companies and gain market share it is critical that they understand new and emerging demands from consumers, especially within growing segments, wherever they do business. As the population of the United States evolves to become more ethnically diverse, the complexity of such an effort has grown. To help close the gap and give insight as to how to address the needs of the growing diverse base, Nielsen—along with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)— developed this report to better illustrate the qualities of the African-American community, the business opportunities that exist, and the best methods for a productive connection between businesses and this community.
The African-American population is, today, the largest racial minority group in America, with a population of close to 43 million. This market segment’s growth rate continues to exceed the overall population’s growth and is making continued gains in the area of education and income. The collective buying power of the African-American population is projected to be at $1.1 trillion by 2015. Collectively the group over-indexes in several key categories (television viewing, mobile phone usage and trips to grocery channels) and exerts a large influence on popular culture and trends, indicative of the high growth industries of the future. The three areas of focus for this report include a review of demographic characteristics, a survey of the programs and mediums favored by the group, and a look at overall consumer packaged goods buying behavior.

Free registration required to download full report.

Report: The Diverse People of Africa

April 6, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Nielsen
With over one billion consumers—a number growing faster than that of any other continent—Africa boasts a wealth of potential. With young and quickly growing populations paired with a rising gross domestic product (GDP) that has grown faster than that of the rest of the world every year since 20011, African markets brim with opportunity. Traditionally viewed as an impoverished continent where few people have discretionary income, Africa’s middle class is growing at an astounding rate and the GDP per capita (PPP) has grown 26 percent in the past 10 years2. With its steadily rising incomes, African economies offer vast potential and rewarding growth opportunities.
Despite the exciting opportunities and considerable promise of the African continent, doing business here also comes with significant challenges. Aside from political turmoil, wide income disparities, and infrastructure shortfalls, one of the biggest issues facing marketers in Africa is its diversity.
Rather than just a continent, Africa must be viewed as 54 separate and distinct countries with a wide array of political, economic, geographical, cultural and social features.
Free registration required to download full report.

Analytics in Retail

March 25, 2012 Comments off

Analytics in Retail
Source: Deloitte

The retail sector has seen considerable change in this uncertain economy. Highly informed and more demanding customers are challenging retailers to consider new ways of tapping into their data to answer the “crunchy questions” that can hold the key to improving performance. As the questions become more complicated to answer, retailers require in-depth insights to effectively manage and forecast future performance.

Oftentimes, the questions are enterprise-wide in nature; traditional siloed analysis is simply not enough:

  • Who are the next 1,000 customers we will lose — and why?
  • Which suppliers are most at risk of going out of business?
  • Which customers are our biggest influencers?
  • Will our workforce profile match our needs in two years?
  • How will demographic shifts affect our market share?
  • Which high-performing associates are we at risk of losing?

Advanced analytics represent a portfolio of tools, techniques, and organizational capabilities that can be applied to specific decisions across a wide range of business concerns. This article highlights six key areas where retailers can apply analytics to drive value for their stakeholders.

+ Full Document (PDF)

Food Retailers Issue Report Demonstrating the Costs Associated with Shouldering Debit Card Fraud-Prevention

March 5, 2012 Comments off

Food Retailers Issue Report Demonstrating the Costs Associated with Shouldering Debit Card Fraud-Prevention
Source: Food Marketing Institute

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today issued a report that examines the extent to which FMI’s food retailer members are paying a disproportionately higher amount in fraud prevention costs compared to the actual rate of debit fraud in their stores. Signature debit transactions account for 85 percent of all debit fraud, while 41 percent of purchases with debit transactions are completed with a more secure PIN debit transaction.

Debit Card Fraud and the Impact of Regulations on the Grocery Industry estimates the cost of fraud across the entire food-retailing sector. The FMI study points out that if food retailers accepted debit cards at the same rate as other stores accept them, they could be paying as much as $3.17 billion in fraud prevention costs, more than 100 times what they actually lose from fraudulent transactions. In fact, 85 percent of all fraudulent debit transactions involve signature debit.

Despite the higher frequency of fraud, banks have historically encouraged consumers to use signature debit cards, which are more profitable for banks than PIN debit cards. Merchants bear more of the cost of fraud on signature debit cards, as liability shifts away from issuers.

+ Full Report (PDF)

I Have Not Yet Begun to Shop … or Have I?

February 26, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Deloitte
Shoppers wander grocery store aisles, checking items off of tattered shopping lists. They fumble for clipped coupons in the checkout line and scan loyalty cards at the register only to overspend anyway and come home to discover they overlooked an ingredient, bought something they already had in quantity or forgot the milk. Depending on one’s appetite for nostalgia, this scene is either a pleasant nod to the past or a costly and frustratingly outdated experience in a world that could—and perhaps should—offer something better. Fortunately for those with the latter point of view, the consumer seems poised to take much greater (and earlier) control of the shopping experience.
Smarter phones and shoppers empowered with shopping-related mobile applications are transforming the shopping process. Early adopters of smartphones in a shopping context—ordinary consumers who have embraced mobile technology to make their lives easier, make more informed product decisions and save money—are benefiting from increasingly capable devices and a proliferation of mobile applications, and it is likely that a far larger population of smartphone users will follow in their footsteps. For these mobile consumers, the pre-store and in-store shopping process is being redefined with a wide range of players vying for a prominent role in enabling, guiding and constructing business models around that process. While smartphone-equipped consumers currently comprise only a small percentage of the general public, their attitudes and behaviors may be indicative of a much larger customer base in the future.

USPS: Bad Check Prevention and Collection: Audit Report

February 17, 2012 Comments off
Source:  U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General
Postal Service’s policies and procedures to prevent and collect bad checks were effective and efficient. The Postal Service collected about 69 percent of bad check debt, and bad checks represented 0.14 percent of retail check payments, which was over seven times better than the industry average of 1 percent. In addition, the collection process for bad checks was cost effective, and management has decreased staffing to process and collect bad checks concurrently with bad check volume. However, there is additional opportunity to decrease bad check costs by increasing the bad check service fee to the national retail median.

Dollar Days: How Dollar Stores Are Growing in a Weak Economy

February 9, 2012 Comments off

Dollar Days: How Dollar Stores Are Growing in a Weak Economy (PDF)
Source: Colliers International

It’s the single lesson retailers took away from the recent recession: they’re dealing with a transformed consumer. The rapid evaporation of wealth, both real and perceived, has profoundly changed the way Americans shop, how they think about the buying experience, and how they define value.

As dollars migrate away from some discretionary spending, retailers’ mission to provide value has intensified competition in need-based product categories. Food is one of them. Traditional grocers, drive-up grocers, supercenters, organic markets, warehouse clubs, drugstores, and dollar stores now jostle each other in an extremely crowded food-at-home marketplace. Developers, owners, and investors have taken notice, realigning their growth strategies to embrace the lowerrisk prospects of either retailers or properties that derive significant profits from food sales.

Dollar stores have been one of the clear winners. Long known for value they provide with convenience positioning, edited assortments, and low prices, the four leading national chains have emerged recently as viable, rapidly expanding players in the niche food market. Unlike other retail categories with clear leaders and laggards, each dollar store chain is a strong operator. All four have remained bullish in their 2012 outlooks, reiterating earnings guidance and the scope of their real estate programs.

This white paper will explore the combined expansion programs of the four major chains with an eye toward the sustainability of their future growth. An aggressive suppliers’ rush into any category, even food, carries a risk of saturation, and historically newer entrants are more vulnerable when consumer sentiment changes. A combination of dollar stores’ real estate decisions, merchandising assortments, and deal structures, however, suggests their future will continue to be bright even as the overall retail market struggles to regain momentum.


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