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Small Businesses Up the Ante this Holiday Season: Offer Discounts and Invest in Advertising to Get More Out of Small Business Saturday, According to NFIB/American Express Research

Number of business owners who say they’ll rely primarily on paid advertising to promote Small Business Saturday doubles; 67% will offer discounts to drive consumers to ‘Shop Small’ on November 30

Washington, D.C. – November 6, 2013 – With five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many small business owners say they’ll be pulling out all of the stops to get customers into stores during the critical holiday shopping season. According to the second annual Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, released today by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, more independent merchants will feel the Christmas creep as they start their promotional activity earlier than last year.

For many of the small business owners who are aware of Small Business Saturday, the day will be a part of their promotional calendar. Of those small business owners incorporating Small Business Saturday into their holiday plans, 70% say Small Business Saturday will be helpful in attracting new customers.

Small Business Saturday has become an important fixture on the business calendar for merchants and an increasing number are investing more money and providing additional incentives to reach customers.  Even as social media and word of mouth remain the top methods for business owners to reach customers with their Small Business Saturday offerings, the number of business owners who say they’ll rely primarily on paid advertising (TV, radio and newspaper) to promote Small Business Saturday has doubled (18% vs. 9% in 2012).  Discounts continue to be the top incentive used to encourage consumers to Shop Small, but more business owners are planning to reward customers by offering them a free gift with  purchase (33%, up from 20% in 2012).

The busy holiday season often demands a more robust workforce; a large number of business owners are looking to their local communities to hire the help they need to meet consumer demand this holiday season. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of local small business owners aware of Small Business Saturday said they make it a point to hire employees from their neighborhood.

Small Business Saturday, now in its fourth year, falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and serves as the traditional kick off to the holiday season for independent retailers and restaurateurs. The day was created in response to small business owners’ most pressing need, more customers, and has since grown into an annual celebration of the independent businesses that help boost our local economies.

“Small-business owners are always looking for new ways to creatively promote their products and services—especially in a tough economy,” said NFIB president and CEO Dan Danner. “Small Business Saturday is a reminder of how important the small-business sector is to our economy and why it’s so important to Shop Small all year around.”

Findings from the survey also uncover the lengths to which small businesses are ready to go to promote their activities on Small Business Saturday. Among those that plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday promotions:

•    75% say the day would be more effective if communities participated together by hosting events;
•    39% are planning to collaborate with other small businesses in a community event to promote Small Business Saturday; and
•    33% rely on social media most to promote Small Business Saturday to their customers.

The Small Business Saturday Insights Survey was created to provide a window into holiday planning for small business owners. Other key survey findings relating to Small Business Saturday activities include:

•    67% will offer discounts on specific items or general discounts on the day;
•    36% will offer coupons for future offers or discounts;
•    32% are starting their holiday promotions earlier than last year; and
•    21% are planning to increase the number of employees working on Small Business Saturday.

Communities Come Together To Take Small Business Saturday to the Next Level
American Express has created a Neighborhood Champions program, working with business organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., the Latino Coalition and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) to organize Small Business Saturday events in communities throughout the country. To date over 1,000 Neighborhood Champions have signed up to rally businesses in their municipalities to partake in local activities leading up to and on the day.

“In 2012, small businesses took ownership of the day by offering great deals and amazing experiences for their customers,” said Susan Sobbott, president, American Express OPEN. “This year, with more than 1,000 ‘Neighborhood Champions’ rallying communities, the country will be blanketed with Small Business Saturday events that can undoubtedly help keep the registers ringing.”

Tools for Making the Day Their Own
For the past three years, small business owners have embraced the day and developed creative and effective ways to promote their businesses.  American Express is again helping to amplify those efforts with free digital and in-store marketing tools to help small business owners expand their local footprint on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season.

The Small Business Saturday Marketing Toolkit provides businesses with turnkey, personalized assets and materials to better promote their efforts.  These tools are available at ShopSmall.com and include:

•    Printable signage and decals to print and display in a business
•    Logos and imagery for business websites, custom materials, and social media pages
•    Suggested social media and email templates to get the word out to customers on the Web

American Express has also rallied organizations from across the country to lend a hand in providing resources to mobilize businesses and consumers for the day. Premier partners include:

FedEx Office
A longstanding supporter of Small Business Saturday, this year, FedEx Office is offering two copies of the free 11” x 17” printed poster that small business owners can create as part of their customized marketing campaign on ShopSmall.com.  In addition, FedEx Office will offer a special discount to small businesses that take advantage of the free printing offer. FedEx will also promote Small Business Saturday to small businesses and consumers through their marketing channels. Offer terms apply and are available http://local.fedex.com/?promo=sbs2013.

Foursquare
New this year, Foursquare and American Express are offering small businesses $250,000 in free credits to use on the recently launched Foursquare Ads for Small Business platform. The credits will enable businesses to create local campaigns that can help drive new customers into their stores based on where they are, or what they are searching for. Additionally, Foursquare will highlight millions of small businesses in their app to help drive foot traffic to local merchants on Small Business Saturday. Offer terms apply and are available at http://business.foursquare.com/shopsmall.

Twitter
Twitter is offering one million dollars in free advertising to small business owners who have not advertised with Twitter previously, to help drive customer engagement and increase sales on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season.  Business owners can also get ready for the big day with an educational toolkit containing helpful tips on gaining more followers and launching exclusive promotions. Offer terms apply and are available at https://business.twitter.com/shop-malsl.

United States Postal Service (USPS)
As a Premier Partner of Small Business Saturday, USPS is providing shipping of Shop Small branded merchandise orders placed on ShopSmall.com as well as Neighborhood Champion Activation Kits.  In a move to help drum up support and activity on Small Business Saturday, USPS will also distribute a consumer mailer and place signage at approximately 1,500 Post Offices to emphasize the importance of supporting their neighborhood business and to help motivate consumers to go out and Shop Small on the day.

Consumer Incentives to Shop Small
Again this year, American Express will give Card Members a special offer for shopping on Small Business Saturday. Card Members who register an eligible American Express® Card will get a one-time $10 statement credit when they use their registered Card to spend $10 or more on November 30, 2013, in a single, in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location that appears on the Small Business Saturday Map. Enrollment is limited and opens on November 24th at ShopSmall.com. Offer terms apply and are available at ShopSmall.com/offerterms.

About the Survey
The Small Business Saturday Insights survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 500 owners/managers of retail establishments with physical storefronts, kiosks, and restaurants/bars/pubs that are not part of a franchise.  In order to qualify, all establishments had to have fewer than 100 employees.  No quotas were established for this criterion, in order to allow for a natural representation of retailers.  The average number of employees of all establishments in the survey was 6 (with the vast majority falling in the 0-5 range).  The study was conducted anonymously via telephone by Redshift Research from October 4 to October 16, 2013.

About Small Business Saturday

November 30th marks the fourth annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: more customers.

About NFIB
NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C., and all 50 states. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information about NFIB is available online at www.NFIB.com/newsroom or NFIB.com/shopsmall.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

SOURCE:

NFIB

 

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Travelocity Reveals Top 10 Most Popular Destinations For July 4th Weekend

 

Orlando, Boston and Washington, D.C. Among Hotspots for Independence Day Travel

SOUTHLAKE, Texas, July 1, 2013, Whether it’s catching the firework show in New York City or hitting the beautiful beaches of Florida, Americans are looking to get away and celebrate July 4th. Travelocity‘s latest booking data reveals the top 10 most popular destinations for the holiday weekend including average airfare and hotel prices travelers can expect to see.

“For travelers planning a trip for our nation’s birthday, the good news is average airfare for the majority of the hotspots are below the national average making these trips a great deal,” said Courtney Scott, senior editor at Travelocity. “The average cost of a domestic round-trip flight for July 4th weekend is $384, and the average daily rate for a domestic hotel is $168. Travelers should think of these prices as the ‘price to beat’ and keep them in mind when booking travel.”

Top 10 Most Popular Destinations for July 4th Weekend
According to Travelocity’s booking data, among the top 10 most popular destinations for Independence Day 2013 are Boston and Washington, D.C., cities that have played important roles in American history.  South Florida rose from number six on the list last year to number four on the list this year.  New to the top 10 this year is Chicago, a city in its prime during the summer season; it bumped Las Vegas out of the number 10 spot.  Additional destinations include some of the nation’s largest cities and popular family entertainment destinations like Orlando and Los Angeles.  The full top 10 rankings of July 4th destinations are as follows:

Top Destinations

Average Airfare

Average Daily Rate

1.    Orlando

$307

$185

2.    New York City

$326

$240

3.    Los Angeles

$368

$162

4.    South Florida

$298

$164

5.    Seattle

$408

$164

6.    Denver

$310

$160

7.    Boston

$335

$197

8.    Washington, DC

$314

$138

9.    San Francisco

$393

$177

10.  Chicago

$333

$163

To lock in your July 4th vacation deal, visit Travelocity.com/summersale.

For more tips and advice about summer travel visit Travelocity’s Window Seat blog.

About Travelocity
Travelocity wants to inspire you to Go & Smell the Roses ! Travelocity helps make your traveling experience memorable with innovative apps, competitive prices and 24/7 customer service. Travelocity believes that travel makes us better and is dedicated to being the traveler’s kindred spirit – a travel companion and a travel instigator, roaming the world beside travelers everywhere. Travelocity provides discounts on Hotels , Flights , Vacation Packages , Cruises and Rental Cars .

About Travelocity Global
Travelocity Global is one of the world’s largest travel companies, serving the needs of travelers from all walks of life. Based in Southlake (Dallas/Fort Worth), Texas, with offices and customer care centers around the world, Travelocity Global owns and operates: Travelocity® in North America; lastminute.com, a leader in European online travel; The Travelocity Partner Network; and igougo.com, a leading online travel community. Travelocity Global is owned by Sabre Holdings, a global technology company whose innovative technology is used by more than a billion people around the world to plan, book and get to their destination at a time and price that’s right for them.

CONTACT:
Edelman
Meredith McKee
214-443-7555
Meredith.McKee@Edelman.com

SOURCE:

Travelocity

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Deloitte: Shoppers’ Belts Remain Tight Despite Economic Improvement

National brand loyalty slides third consecutive year; consumers want household and grocery clicks before trips

NEW YORK, April 16, 2013, Even as the economy improves, 94 percent of Americans indicate they will remain cautious and keep their spending for food, beverage and household goods at its current level, according to Deloitte’s 2013 American Pantry Study.

More than nine in 10 (92 percent) consumers surveyed indicate they have become more resourceful, and 86 percent say they are getting more precise in what they buy — attitudes that have remained consistent in the three years Deloitte has conducted the study, and across income levels.

Despite enduring frugal attitudes, few consumers feel they are making any compromise: More than seven in 10 (72 percent) consumers indicate that, even though they are spending less on household and grocery items, it doesn’t feel like they are sacrificing much, a seven percentage point increase in two years.

Nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) survey respondents report they have found several store brands that they feel are just as good as national brands, and few consumers plan to switch back to national brands: Only 27 percent plan to do so as the economy rebounds, an eight percentage point decline from the previous year.

“One of the most notable year-over-year trends in the study is how embedded frugality has become due to the recession,” said Pat Conroy, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and consumer products sector leader. “Prudent consumers and improving perceptions about store brands are squeezing national brands’ position. The gap between the few ‘must have’ brands on shoppers’ lists and others on the shelf may be widening, making it more important for brands to differentiate through innovation, quality and performance. Consumer product companies may also consolidate low and mid-level performers and shift investment to the category leaders.”

Brand loyalty declines, shoppers put experimentation on hold

As store brands become more entrenched in the pantry, brand loyalty continues to slide, however consumers appear to be selectively loyal to certain brands.

Brand loyalty dropped for the third consecutive year in the survey. When asked why certain brands are no longer a priority for their households, consumers cited “other brands are available on sale” as the No. 1 reason. However, brands to which consumers are most loyal significantly outpace their lower performing counterparts by 20 or more percentage points on attributes such as performance, experience and trust.

Consumers have also honed in on select brands they will consider. More than eight in 10 (84 percent) consumers say they have a specific set of brands in mind, and will purchase whichever one is on sale. When using coupons, 71 percent indicate they will use them only for items they would have purchased anyway.

Shoppers are also selective about the retail channels where they are willing to purchase certain items. Consumers surveyed shop an average of 2.5 channels in each product category, compared with an average of 5.5 channels (including grocery, mass merchandise, club, drug, convenience, dollar, neighborhood market and online) for all of their food, beverage and personal goods combined.

Loyalty cards’ importance in consumers’ cross-channel shopping has increased, as the number of consumers with three or more grocery loyalty cards has grown from 28 percent in first American Pantry Study in 2010 to 39 percent in the most recent survey.

Additionally, 58 percent of shoppers surveyed use shopper loyalty cards in grocery stores every time they shop, up 14 percentage points in two years, and 30 percent participate in a loyalty program via their smartphone while shopping in a store. Consumers appear to feel a sense of reward from these efforts: Eight in 10 (80 percent) say it is fun to see how much money they can save by using coupons or a shopper loyalty card.

Online options in demand for household goods, grocery; Mobile shopping interest growing fastest among baby boomers

The 2013 American Pantry Study reveals an unmet demand for online shopping options, particularly for in-store pickup and at-home delivery. While 14 percent of shoppers surveyed currently buy consumer products online and pick them up in the store, 43 percent indicate they would like to do so, with strongest demand appearing in food and beverage categories for in-store pickup.

Approximately one in 10 (11 percent) survey respondents purchase online with home delivery, and the number rises to 34 percent among those who would like to do so, primarily for household goods such as laundry soaps and tabletop disposable paper products.

“Consumers are drawn to the convenience of purchasing frequently-used food, beverage and household items online, and brand preferences will likely extend into their online buying habits,” added Conroy. “Consumer product companies can use mobile and online channels to strengthen the functional and experiential brand attributes that translate into conversion and loyalty. They should consider aligning their digital efforts with consumers’ location and context to reach shoppers online and on their phones, blending into their list-making, meal planning, product and price-checking, family activities and health and beauty routines. They may also market channel-specific product offerings and use these platforms to make product suggestions based on target consumers’ prior shopping behaviors.”

The latest American Pantry Study also indicates that interest in mobile technology is growing at a higher rate among baby boomers than younger consumers. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents age 45 to 70 indicate they are interested in using mobile coupons they can scan at the checkout, up from 12 percent in last year’s survey, compared with a six percentage point increase among respondents age 21 to 29.

Shoppers surveyed are tapping into their smartphones outside the store nearly as often as they do inside the store. Three in 10 (30 percent) consumers manage a shopping list or recipe while in a store, just three percentage points higher than those who do so offsite during the shopping process.

For more information about the 2013 American Pantry Study, including in-depth survey findings, please visit: http://www.deloitte.com/us/pr/2013APS

About the Survey

The 2013 American Pantry Study was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company in January 2013. The survey polled a sample of 4,047 consumers and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

About Deloitte’s Consumer Products Practice

Deloitte is a leading presence in the consumer products industry, providing audit, consulting, risk management, financial advisory and tax services to more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 consumer product companies. Delivering insights on the latest consumer product issues, effective practices, technology and operating procedures, Deloitte serves companies across multiple categories including food and beverage, apparel and footwear, personal care, and household products. For more information about Deloitte’s consumer products practice, visit: http://www.deloitte.com/us/consumerproducts

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

SOURCE:

Deloitte
http://www.deloitte.com/us

 

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Goodwill® Sponsors Thrift Store Project: Documenting America’s Consumption Patterns

All Thrifty States Documents Positive Aspects of Secondhand Shopping

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 10, 2013, Goodwill Industries® is proud to serve as an educational partner and sponsor of All Thrifty States: A Visual Journey through America’s Collective Closets, a documentary photo project and upcoming book that will focus on how consumers’ purchases of previously used items are not only healthy for the planet, but they are an answer to the consumerism that has pushed Americans’ spending habits to the max.

The project is run by Jenna Isaacson, a Washington, DC-based independent visual journalist and lover of all things thrift. She will travel the country to document consumerism in the country and the toll it has taken on valuable resources and financial stability. Isaacson, who grew up thrifting with her grandfather in Illinois and Florida, will travel cross-country and search for treasures at Goodwill stores in Albany, NY; Baltimore, MD; Burlington, VT; Charlotte, NC; Charleston, WV; Cleveland, OH; Columbia, SC; Columbus, OH; Concord, NH; Detroit, MI; Morgantown, WV; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, ME; Richmond, VA; Savannah, GA; Scranton, PA; and Stratford, NJ, photographically documenting the goods that can be found at Goodwill stores. When not visiting a Goodwill store, Isaacson will visit thrift stores that support local community efforts, including animal shelters, domestic violence shelters, hospices, hospitals, and services for people who are homeless. In the process, she will be encouraging a more ‘second-hand’ consumer lifestyle. Goodwill is sponsoring Isaacson’s transportation, a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle. BALCON Enterprises, a Gaylord box and bulk bag manufacturer, and supplier of packaging supplies used by various Goodwill agencies throughout the United States, is also sponsoring the project due to its commitment to environmental sustainability and Goodwill’s mission of providing job training for people with disabilities and disadvantages through the revenue from the sale of donated goods.

“With the economic paradigm shifting rapidly towards reuse and repurpose, showcasing America’s thrift stores, particularly Goodwill stores, is a great way to engage Americans’ creativity,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Jenna is taking her passion for donated goods and educating the public on the tie-in between donations and environmental sustainability. She’s also disproving negative stereotypes about thrift stores and bringing light to the Goodwill mission and sharing her knowledge of the benefits of second-hand living.”

Isaacson, who departed from Washington, DC, on her thrifting expedition, intends to raise awareness about the positive aspects of second-hand shopping in local communities while also demonstrating the benefits of donating, including shrinking landfills, reducing clutter, saving money for municipalities and boosting the economy. Isaacson’s trip will complete 48 of her 50 “thrifty” states. Her first trip was in June 2011, and she crisscrossed the country visiting more than 60 thrift stores, including 32 Goodwill stores in 30 states and traveling 10,200 miles.

“With All Thrifty States, my goal is to not only make an impact on the environment but to provide a window on the story of America’s communities through the observation of things they once owned,” said Isaacson, founder of All Thrifty States. “Goodwill stores are one example. The stores contain a distinct variety of items that are reasonably priced, stylish, fun and say a lot about the communities that surround them.”

For more information, visit http://allthriftystates.com or Twitter: @AllThriftyState and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/All-Thrifty-States/112781348732621.

ABOUT GOODWILL INDUSTRIES INTERNATIONAL

Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based, independent agencies in the United States and Canada with 14 affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill is one of America’s 25 most inspiring companies (Forbes, 2012). Goodwill agencies are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that fund job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 2,700 stores and online at www.shopgoodwill.com. Local Goodwill agencies also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation and document imaging and shredding. In 2012, more than 4 million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill’s career services. Goodwill channels 82 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services. To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at locator.goodwill.org, or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl or @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook: GoodwillIntl.

SOURCE:

Goodwill Industries International

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J.D. Power and LMC Automotive Report: Strong New-Vehicle Sales in February Drives Robust Selling Rate

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Feb. 22, 2013, The new-vehicle retail selling rate in February remains above 12 million units—stronger than it was a year ago—as the auto industry recovery continues, according to a monthly sales forecast developed by J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.

Retail Light-Vehicle Sales
February new-vehicle retail sales are expected to come in at 931,100 vehicles, which represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 12.1 million units, a decline from the robust 13.1 million SAAR in January, but stronger than the 11.7 million SAAR in February 2012. Retail transactions are the most accurate measurement of true underlying consumer demand for new vehicles.

“All signs of the industry’s health are positive right now,” said John Humphrey , senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Average transaction prices are up, incentives are stable, leasing is at a healthy level and newly redesigned models continue to make an impact on the marketplace.”

“Demand is increasing, but the automakers deserve credit for doing a much better job of keeping alignment of production and demand.” said Humphrey. “This has led to new-vehicle transaction prices that are averaging nearly $1,000 more in February than the same period in 2012 while incentives have remained relatively flat year over year.”

Total Light-Vehicle Sales
Total light-vehicle sales in February 2013 are projected to reach 1,176,200 units, a seven percent increase from February 2012 and the fourth consecutive month with the selling rate at or above 15.2 million units. Fleet share is expected to remain at the January level of 21 percent.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive U.S. Sales and SAAR Comparisons

February 20131

January 2013

February 2012

New-Vehicle Retail Sales

931,100 units2

(9% higher than February 2012)

822,018 units

887,924 units

Total Vehicle Sales

1,176,200 units

(7% higher than February 2012)

1,041,982 units

1,147,761 units

Retail SAAR

12.1 million units

13.1 million units

11.7 million units

Total SAAR

15.2 million units

15.2 million units

14.4 million units

1Figures cited for February 2013 are forecasted based on the first 14 selling days of the month.
2The percentage change is adjusted based on the number of selling days in the month (24 days in February 2013 vs. 25 days in February 2012).

Sales Outlook
The outlook for 2013 continues to improve, as the selling pace remains robust. In fact, LMC Automotive is increasing its 2013 U.S. forecast for total light-vehicle sales to 15.3 million units from 15.1 million units. The increase is split between fleet and retail light-vehicle sales, with the outlook for retail increasing to 12.5 million units from 12.4 million units.

“The current fundamentals that are driving strong vehicle sales—pent-up vehicle demand and a stable, recovering economy—are expected to get a boost by additional positive factors this year,” said Jeff Schuster , senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “An expected recovery in the housing market, and 50 percent more new-model launches combined with an increase in lease maturities should keep light-vehicle sales climbing throughout the year.”

North American Production
North American light-vehicle production in January 2013 finished at more than 1.3 million units, seven percent higher than in January 2012. Production in Mexico has increased by nearly 21 percent from January 2012 on higher General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen volumes related to newer launches. U.S. vehicle production has grown by nine percent from January 2012, while Canadian production has declined by 13 percent during the same period.

Vehicle inventory levels in early February increase to a 74-day supply, compared with 59 days in January. A higher level is typical in February. However, at the current selling rate, inventory levels are expected to rebalance within the next month or two. Overall, there are nearly 3.1 million units currently available on dealer lots or in transit—an increase of approximately 600,000 units from February 2012.

LMC Automotive’s forecast for North American production remains at 15.9 million units for this year, a three percent increase from 2012.

“The current inventory situation and production plan for 2013 suggests that there is enough volume to support the expected increased level of demand, and there remains little risk for an overbuild environment,” said Schuster.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), a financial intelligence and education company, signed an agreement to sell its McGraw-Hill Education business to investment funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management, LLC in November 2012. Following the sale closing, expected in early 2013, the Company will be renamed McGraw Hill Financial (subject to shareholder approval) and will be a powerhouse in benchmarks, content and analytics for the global capital and commodity markets. The Company’s leading brands will include: Standard & Poor’s, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, Platts, Crisil, J.D. Power and Associates, McGraw-Hill Construction and Aviation Week. The Company will have approximately 17,000 employees in more than 30 countries. Additional information is available at www.mcgraw-hill.com.

About LMC Automotive
LMC Automotive, formerly J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting, is the premier supplier of automotive forecasts and intelligence to an extensive client base of automotive manufacturer, component supplier, logistics and distribution companies, as well as financial and government institutions around the world. LMC’s global forecasting services encompass automotive sales, production and powertrain expertise, as well as advisory capability. LMC Automotive has offices in the United States, the UK, Germany, China and Thailand and is part of the Oxford, UK-based LMC group, the global leader in economic and business consultancy for the agribusiness sector. For more information please visit www.lmc-auto.com.

Media Relations Contacts
John Tews ; Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218; media.relations@jdpa.com
Emmie Littlejohn ; LMC Automotive; Troy, Mich.; (248) 817-2100; elittlejohn@lmc-auto.com

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates or LMC Automotive. www.jdpower.com/corporate www.lmc-auto.com

SOURCE: J.D. Power and Associates

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Does 24/7 Connectivity Equal Increased Productivity?

Randstad survey shows the majority of women disagree

ATLANTA, Feb. 19, 2013, With technology increasingly blurring the lines between work and home and women assuming more prominent roles at work, a survey released today by Randstad US reveals that constant connectivity does not mean increased productivity for women workers.

Randstad’s latest Engagement Index study reveals that while 42 percent of women believe it is increasingly difficult to disconnect from work while at home, the majority (68 percent) do not believe that the blurring of lines between work and home has increased their productivity.

“As enhanced technologies and increased access to information continues to blur the lines between our professional and personal lives, many workers mistake being busy for being productive,” said Linda Galipeau, Randstad CEO of North America. “These are two very different concepts that when looked at from an organizational standpoint—could have serious implications for a company’s bottom line. We are only productive if we’re producing the results that are most impactful to our goals. Being that we live in a multi-tasking world, it is important to work smarter and hone in on those high-impact efforts that will create more meaningful results. This is incredibly important, especially as women and men can now perform their jobs from almost anywhere.”

Other notable findings:

Flexible Working Arrangements and Policies Among Prime Benefits For Women

  • Forty-nine percent of women say their company is flexible and accommodating in terms of hours or working arrangements. Additionally, 33 percent of female respondents feel this is one of the most effective ways to engage them.

Women Cite the Top Asset in Growing Their Careers

  • In terms of the skills important to growing their careers, half of women surveyed (50 percent) chose flexibility/adaptability, followed by encompassing computer and technology skills (43 percent).

On-the-Job Relationships Impact Career Happiness

  • Women value their relationships with colleagues and supervisors. Relationships with their colleagues (87 percent) and direct supervisors (85 percent) have a big impact on their happiness with their jobs.

Randstad recently launched its Women Powering Business section on its Workforce360 thought leadership site. This section includes the latest research and trends shaping the way women work. For more information, as well as other research insights, advice and career resources, visit www.randstadusa.com/workforce360.

Methodology
The Randstad Engagement Index is comprised of findings from quarterly waves of research targeting employees and annual surveys of employers. The sixth wave of findings was conducted November 1-13, 2012 from a national sample of 3,417 aged 18 and older who are currently employed full time from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online.

Weighting was used to balance demographics and ensure samples reflect the U.S. population of working adults.

Employees and employers were surveyed to compare notable differences in perceptions and attitudes. Multiple waves of research allow for trending and to track changes in perceptions and attitudes over time. Research into employee attitudes and perceptions will be conducted quarterly. Research into employer attitudes and perceptions will be conducted on an annual basis.

About Ipsos Public Affairs
Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice which conducts strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based on public opinion research. They are the international polling agency of record for Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. To learn more, visit: www.ipsos-pa.com.

About Randstad US
Randstad is a $22.5 billion global provider of HR services and the second largest staffing organization in the world. From temporary staffing to permanent placement to inhouse, professionals, search & selection, and HR Solutions, Randstad holds top positions around the world and has approximately 28,700 corporate employees working from its nearly 4,700 branches and inhouse locations in 40 countries. Founded in 1960 and headquartered in Diemen, the Netherlands, Randstad Holding nv is listed on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam. Learn more at http://www.randstad.com.

SOURCE: Randstad

 

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Annual Car Sales Strength Expected To Slow Following Three-Year Trend Of Double-Digit Growth, According To Kelley Blue Book Analysts

Industry Sales Will Continue to Outpace Economic Growth; Affordable Pricing and Credit Environment Keeps Consumers Coming Back

IRVINE, California, Feb. 13, 2013, New-vehicle sales are expected to grow nearly 6 percent in 2013 to 15.3 million units overall, breaking the three-year trend of double-digit sales growth that has persisted since 2010, according to Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com, the leading provider of new and used car information.

“Although the sales pace is expected to slow this year, automakers have demonstrated that they can generate solid profits with sales at current levels, which is a strong indication that they will remain disciplined by continuing to match production to meet demand,” said Alec Gutierrez , senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book . “Sales growth won’t come easily, especially considering the challenges facing the industry in today’s economy. While economic growth is expected to arrive slowly in 2013, there are several indications that point toward solid auto industry sales growth in the years ahead.”

Among the various factors contributing to the ongoing recovery, Kelley Blue Book believes that pent-up demand, high used-vehicle values, improving credit availability and low interest rates all have played a direct role in the auto industry’s ability to outperform the economy. Each of these factors has been critical to-date and will continue to drive sales this year and beyond.

Kelley Blue Book: New-Car Sales to Hit 15.3 Million Units in 2013

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Annual Sales Volume   (Millions)

16.1

13.2

10.4

11.6

12.8

14.5

15.3

Auto Industry Sales Will Continue to Outpace Economic Growth
The economy has come a long way since nearly collapsing in late 2008, yet a long road to recovery remains. At the depths of the recession in 2009, the unemployment rate hit a 30-year high of 10 percent, new-vehicle sales hit a 30-year low of 10.4 million units, and the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index hit an all-time low of 25 (for perspective, in 1985 the index was at 100). Some feared the onset of a second Great Depression in 2009, and while a repeat of the 1930s doesn’t appear to be in the cards, the nation still has a long way to go before the economy is completely back on its feet.

Today unemployment remains at an uncomfortably high 7.8 percent, while consumer confidence is below 60, which is notably better than in 2009 but well below the 4.5 percent unemployment rate and 100+ consumer confidence readings from 2007. This is important to note since 2007 was the final year of a 10-year span in which the auto industry consistently posted sales of 16 million units or more. Although the economy has recovered slowly and still has a long way to go before unemployment and consumer confidence are back to levels last seen in 2007, Kelley Blue Book doesn’t see a reason why auto sales cannot continue to outperform the pace of the economic recovery.

“Looking at the historical relationship between unemployment and auto sales from the 1980s through 2007, unemployment would need to be below 6 percent to generate auto sales of 16 million units or more,” said Gutierrez. “According to estimates from the Federal Reserve, unemployment only will drop down to 7.4 percent in 2013 at best; a point that would historically justify sales of only 13 million to 14 million units. However, since 2010, new-car sales have outperformed their traditional relationship with unemployment, which means that sales in excess of 15 million units clearly are attainable.”

Auto sales also have outperformed their historical relationship to consumer confidence by a significant margin. Despite expectations for consumer confidence to remain well below levels historically required to justify sales of 15 million units or more, Kelley Blue Book believes auto sales will continue to grow as predicted provided that consumer confidence remains stable.

Pent-Up Demand Drives Growth Since 2010, Will Persist in 2013
While economic growth has remained relatively weak and only explains part of the auto sales recovery, Kelley Blue Book sees pent-up demand playing a more critical role in the rebirth of the industry. According to Polk, registered vehicles in the United States are 11 years old on average; the oldest ever recorded. The increase in vehicle age can be attributed to two key trends. First, vehicles have grown much older as consumers have opted to hold onto them longer, due to the weakened economy. Consumers have focused on deleveraging after the collapse of the real estate bubble, and unless they require a replacement or the model no longer meets the needs of its owners, many are choosing to hold on to their vehicle rather than acquire additional debt to purchase an all-new vehicle. This leads directly to the second major influence of increased vehicle age, which is improved vehicle quality.

Aging Vehicles to Continue to Generate Demand in 2013

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Avg. Registered

Vehicle Age

8.9

8.9

9

9.1

9.4

9.5

9.7

9.8

10

10.3

10.6

10.8

Source: Polk

“Vehicles produced during the past few model years are significantly higher in quality than those produced in previous decades,” said Gutierrez. “In the 1990s, consumers came to expect a vehicle produced by a Japanese manufacturer to last 100,000 miles and beyond. Now we can say the same about vehicles produced by all manufacturers. Whether shopping for a Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, Ford or Hyundai, consumers can be reasonably assured that their vehicle will hit 100,000 miles with ease, and 200,000 miles or more with proper maintenance and care.”

With consumers delaying the purchase of a new vehicle due to economic hardship and improved vehicle quality, Kelley Blue Book expects the average age of vehicles on the road to continue to increase. As vehicles continue to get older and economic conditions slowly improve, buyers are expected to continue to return to market.

Leasing to Aid Sales Growth in 2013
When auto sales hit their low point in 2009, leasing all but dried up. The lack of lease returns during the past several years has played a pivotal role in the used-vehicle supply shortfall that has driven used-vehicle values to record highs. The reduced lease returns also have limited the number of consumers that traditionally would be seeking a new vehicle at the end of their lease term. While this reduced the number of in-market shoppers in recent years, Kelley Blue Book anticipates this trend to begin to reverse in 2013. Leasing bounced back in 2010, increasing nearly 700,000 units year-over-year. Kelley Blue Book believes that the return in leasing will generate as many as 300,000 additional in-market shoppers this year, a number that will increase in 2014 and beyond. With lease returns expected to approach more normal levels during the next few years, Kelley Blue Book anticipates new-vehicle sales to grow and used-vehicle values to soften.

Kelley Blue Book: Increase in Lease Returns to

Drive Boost in Demand for 2013

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Total

Vehicles

Leased

2,446,569

2,453,189

1,935,910

1,083,619

1,709,149

1,960,128

2,284,800

Source: Kelley Blue Book Automotive Insights

Affordable Pricing and Credit Environment Keeps Consumers Coming Back
Consumers looking to purchase a new vehicle in 2013 will find affordable pricing on some of the best vehicles being produced today. On average, consumers can expect to find new vehicles priced at approximately 94 percent of MSRP, not including incentives. Not only are transaction prices quite favorable for consumers, but interest rates also remain at historically low levels.

“Consumers with a solid credit history should have no trouble obtaining a loan for 3 percent or less for up to 72 months,” said Gutierrez. “Many automakers continue to offer loans of zero percent for up to 60 months, as well as rock-bottom lease payments around $160 per month for a compact and only a few dollars north of $200 per month for a mid-size.”

Leases accounted for approximately 18 percent of all vehicles sold in 2012, returning to levels regularly seen prior to the collapse in industry sales in 2009. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated that interest rates will remain near zero through at least 2015, so consumers looking for a new vehicle can expect to find affordable pricing on new models for several years to come.

The affordability of new vehicles has been made even more attractive by the high values maintained by used cars. Although approximately 8 percent below the all-time highs seen in 2011, late-model used-car values remain uncomfortably close to new-car transaction prices, influencing many consumers to purchase new rather than used. This phenomenon is most pronounced for high-demand vehicles such as subcompact, compact and mid-size cars. These vehicles all have been significantly upgraded in recent years and generate excellent fuel economy for an affordable price. As a result, they have maintained extraordinarily strong values in the used-car market. In fact, the difference between a five-year payment on a new car and a 1- to 2-year-old used model is as little as $30 per month apart in some cases. Kelley Blue Book expects used-car values to continue to ease from current highs, so this phenomenon likely will play less of a role in the years ahead.

Kelley Blue Book: New-Car Pricing Remains

Near Used-Car Pricing

MY2013
(New)

MY 2012 (Used)

MY2011

MY2010

MY2009

MY2008

Average Monthly

Payment for a Compact

$335

$302

$280

$253

$224

$202

Source: Kelley Blue Book Automotive Insights

For more information and news from Kelley Blue Book ‘s KBB.com, visit www.kbb.com/media/, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kelleybluebook (or @kelleybluebook), like our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kbb, and get updates on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+kbb/.

About Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com)
Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the industry. Each week the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website www.kbb.com, including its famous Blue Book® Trade-In and Suggested Retail Values and Fair Purchase Price, which reports what others are paying for new cars this week. The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies as well as governmental agencies. KBB.com provides consumer pricing and information on cars for sale, minivans, pickup trucks, sedan, hybrids, electric cars, and SUVs. Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of AutoTrader Group.

SOURCE:

Kelley Blue Book

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