- Created on 27 November 2012
After a record-breaking Black Friday, retailers may be in for a big Cyber Monday as well. Early results for Cyber Monday, from IBM's Digital Analytics Benchmark, show a 25.6 percent jump in online sales from this same time period over Cyber Monday 2011.
Mobile shopping is also performing well with the current number of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer's site at 20.4 percent. The number of consumers using their mobile device to make a purchase is at 10.1 percent.
By device, the iPhone is driving more retail shopping than any other device with traffic reaching 7.9 percent versus 6.7 percent and 5.6 percent for iPad and Android respectively. Shoppers referred from Social Networks have generated .2 percent of all online sales on Cyber Monday.
PayPal is also releasing its stats for Cyber Monday. The payments company is already seeing 196% more mobile payment volume on Cyber Monday 2012 than Cyber Monday 2011.
Traditionally, cyber Monday has been a big spending day, with $1.25 billion spent online last Cyber Monday. But this year, retailers have rolled out holiday online promotions and deal earlier, and thus, more consumers buying online Thanksgiving and Black Friday instead of visiting stores. Consumers spent over $1 billion online on Black Friday (a 26 percent increase from last year), and $633 million on Thanksgiving Day (a 32 percent increase from last year).
With those increases in spending in mind, many have forecasted lower growth for Cyber Monday. However, IBM's early data shows that consumers appear to be shopping today. We'll see how the final numbers turn out.
- Created on 26 November 2012
(AP) — Bye-bye Black Friday. So long Small Business Saturday. Now, it's Cyber Monday's turn.
Cyber Monday, coined in 2005 by a shopping trade group that noticed online sales spiked on the Monday following Thanksgiving, is the next in a series of days that stores are counting on to jumpstart the holiday shopping season.
It's estimated that this year's Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row: According to research firm comScore, Americans are expected to spend $1.5 billion, up 20 percent from last year on Cyber Monday, as retailers have ramped up their deals to get shoppers to click on their websites.
Amazon.com, which is starting its Cyber Monday deals at midnight on Monday, is offering as much as 60 percent off a Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TV that's usually priced higher than $1,000. Sears is offering $430 off a Maytag washer and dryer, each on sale for $399. And Kmart is offering 75 percent off all of its diamond earrings and $60 off a 12-in-1 multigame table on sale for $89.99.
Retailers are hoping the deals will appeal to shoppers like Matt Sexton, 39, who for the first time plans to complete all of his holiday shopping online this year on his iPad tablet computer. Sexton, who plans to spend up to $4,000 this season, already shopped online on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday and found a laptop from Best Buy for $399, a $200 savings, among other deals.
"The descriptions and reviews are so much better online so you can compare and price shop and for the most part get free shipping," said Sexton, who lives in Queens, N.Y., and is a manager at a utility company.
Sexton also said that it's easier to return an online purchase to a physical store than it had been in previous years. "That helps with gifts," he said.
How well retailers fare on Cyber Monday will offer insight into Americans' evolving shopping habits during the holiday shopping season, a time when stores can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. With the growth in high speed Internet access and the wide use of smartphones and tablets, people are relying less on their work computers to shop than they did when Shop.org, the digital division of trade group The National Retail Federation, introduced the term "Cyber Monday."
"People years ago didn't have ... connectivity to shop online at their homes. So when they went back to work after Thanksgiving they'd shop on the Monday after," said Vicki Cantrell, executive director of Shop.org. "Now they don't need the work computer to be able to do that."
As a result, the period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday has become busy for online shopping as well. Indeed, online sales on Thanksgiving Day, traditionally not a popular day for online shopping, rose 32 percent over last year to $633 million, according to comScore. And online sales on Black Friday were up 26 percent from the same day last year, to $1.042 billion. It was the first time online sales on Black Friday surpassed $1 billion.
For the holiday season-to-date, comScore found that $13.7 billion has been spent online, marking a 16 percent increase over last year. The research firm predicts that online sales will surpass 10 percent of total retail spending this holiday season. The National Retail Federation estimates that overall retail sales in November and December will be up 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion
But as other days become popular for online shopping, Cyber Monday may lose some of its cache. To be sure, Cyber Monday hasn't always been the biggest online shopping day. In fact, up until three years ago, that title was historically earned by the last day shoppers could order items with standard shipping rates and get them delivered before Christmas. That day changes every year, but usually falls in late December.
Even though Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest shopping day this year, industry watchers say it could just be a matter of time before other days take that ranking.
"Of all the benchmark spending days, Thanksgiving is growing at the fastest rate, up 128 percent over the last five years," said Andrew Lipsman, a spokesman with comScore.
- Created on 21 November 2012
(AP) — Hostess Brands Inc. lived to die another day.
The maker of Twinkies and Ding Dongs said late Tuesday that it failed to reach an agreement with its second-biggest union. As a result, Hostess plans to continue with a hearing on Wednesday in which a bankruptcy court judge in White Plains, N.Y., will decide if the company can shutter its operations.
The renewed talks between Hostess and The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union came after the company declared last week that it would move to wind down its business and start selling off its assets in bankruptcy court. The company cited a crippling strike that was started on Nov. 9 by the union, which represents 30 percent of Hostess workers.
After making its case to liquidate on Monday, the bankruptcy court judge noted that the two sides hadn't yet tried resolving their differences through private mediation. The judge noted that 18,000 jobs were on the line and urged the company and union to try to resolve their differences. Both sides agreed to hold mediation proceedings on Tuesday.
In a statement late Tuesday, Hostess said it would not comment on the breakdown in talks other than to say that mediation "was unsuccessful." A lawyer for the bakers union said he had no comment, citing mediation ground rules.
Hostess shut down its three dozen plants late last week after it said the strike by the bakers union hurt its ability to maintain normal production. The union says the company's demise was the result of years of mismanagement, however, and that workers have already given steep concessions over the years.
Hostess, weighed down by management turmoil, rising labor costs and Americans' changing tastes, is making its second trip through Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring. The company, based in Irving, Texas, had brought on CEO Gregory Rayburn as a restructuring expert in part to renegotiate its contract with labor unions.
The company reached an agreement with its biggest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, on a contract that dramatically reduced pension contributions, as well as slashing wages and health benefits. But the company said the bakers union stopped returning its calls about a month ago.
The Teamsters urged the smaller union to hold a secret ballot on whether members wanted to continue striking. Many workers in the bakers union decided to cross picket lines last week but Hostess said it wasn't enough to keep operations at normal levels.
Teamsters General Secretary Ken Hall said the failure of the mediation talks Tuesday and the likely shuttering of the company was a "tragic outcome" for Hostess workers.
Rayburn said that Hostess was already operating on razor thin margins and that the strike was the final blow. The bakers union meanwhile pointed to the steep raises executives were given last year as the company was spiraling down toward bankruptcy.
The company's announcement last week that it would move to liquidate prompted a rush on Hostess treats across the country, with many businesses selling out of Twinkies within hours.
Even if Hostess goes out of business, its popular brands will likely find a second life after being snapped up by buyers. The company says several potential buyers have expressed interest in the brands. Although Hostess' sales have been declining in recent years, the company still does about $2.5 billion in business each year. Twinkies alone brought in $68 million so far this year.
- Created on 23 November 2012
(WLS) -- On Black Friday, protestors will greet shoppers at many Walmart stores across the nation.
In Chicago, striking Walmart employees from the Chatham neighborhood have gathered in protest.
They say topics include better working conditions, wages and benefits.
They plan to join other food and retail workers at two separate protests planned on Friday.
One will take place in the Loop, while the other will happen on the Magnificent Mile.
- Created on 20 November 2012
(AP) — U.S. builders started construction last month on the most homes and apartments since July 2008, more evidence that the housing recovery is gaining momentum.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders broke ground on homes in October at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000. That's a 3.6 percent gain from September.
Single-family home construction dipped 0.2 percent to an annual rate of 594,000, down from a four-year high in the previous month. Apartment construction, which is more volatile from month to month, rose 10 percent to an annual rate of 285,000.
Applications for building permits, a sign of future construction, fell 2.7 percent to 866,000, after jumping 12 percent in September to a four-year high. Still, permit applications to build single-family homes rose to their highest level since July 2008.
"The overwhelming trend here is a housing market that has clearly shifted into recovery mode," Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note to clients.
Housing starts are 87 percent above the annual rate of 478,000 in April 2009, the recession low. That's still short of the 1.5 million annual rate considered healthy.
Superstorm Sandy had minimal impact on the October figures, the government said. It could delay some construction in November. Still, residential construction activity in region should get a boost soon after when builders begin replacing homes destroyed by the storm.
The housing market has been making consistent gains this year, helping prop up an economy that's being squeezed by a global slowdown and looming spending cuts and tax increases.
Builder confidence rose to its highest level in six and a half years, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo. Their index of builder sentiment rose to 46 this month, up from 41 in October. It was the highest reading since May 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.
Readings below 50 signal negative sentiment about the housing market. The index has been rising since October 2011, when it was 17. It has surged 27 points in the past 12 months, the sharpest annual increase on record.
Sales of previously occupied homes rose 2.1 percent to 4.79 million in October, the National Association of Realtors said. Sales are near their highest level in five years, excluding temporary spikes in 2009 and 2010 when a homebuyer tax credit boosted purchases.
A key factor fueling the gains is a gradually improving economy, which has increased the number of people looking for homes. At the same time, fewer homes are available for sale. The low supply is helping push up prices.
In addition, mortgage rates have hit all-time lows. And rents are rising, making the purchase of a single-family home or condominium more attractive.
Though new homes represent less than 20 percent of the housing sales market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to data from the home builders group.