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Austin Grocery Retailers: The Ban of Disposable Bags

March 21, 2012

Although the Austin City Council passed one of the broadest bag bans in the nation early Friday , a few details remain to be ironed out.

 

Among them is what the penalties will be for refusing to comply with the law, which will prohibit retailers from offering single-use paper and plastic bags at all retail checkout counters starting in March 2013 . Penalties and details about who will enforce the ban will be worked out over the next few months, said Jennifer Herber , a spokeswoman for Austin Resource Recovery , the city's trash and recycling department.

 

Only retailers, not customers, will face penalties, she said.

 

The council also asked staffers to explore creating an "emergency option" that would allow shoppers who forget their reusable bags to pay a fee for disposable bags so that they aren't forced to buy more reusable bags. It's not clear exactly how that would work or whether it would simply become a loophole for customers to continue getting disposable bags.

 

Before and after the ban takes effect, the city plans to do a $2 million education campaign to alert shoppers to the change and remind them to bring reusable bags.

 

The council decided not to enact a fee on disposable bags before the ban takes effect. An interim fee had been discussed as a way to help shoppers and retailers begin to change their habits and prepare for a ban.

 

Austin is the first big Texas city to pass a bag ban. More than two dozen U.S. cities have bag laws, most of them prohibiting plastic bags and imposing a fee on paper.

 

"This is about Austin reclaiming its position as the national leader in environmental protection," said Rick Cofer , vice chairman of the city's Zero Waste Advisory Commission, who has pushed for a ban for five years. "This ordinance is forward-looking. It may have taken a few years, but we got it right."

 

The City Council came close to enacting a ban a few years ago but held off when a few big retailers agreed to try to voluntarily reduce the plastic bags they offer. Council members have said that program wasn't effective enough, and they asked city staffers last summer to begin writing up a ban.

 

Friday's vote came at about 2 a.m. , after a daylong council meeting. It was unanimous, even though a few council members recently had expressed reservations about the details of the ban, including the idea of prohibiting paper bags as well as plastic.

 

Austin retailers will still be able to offer reusable bags, defined as those made of cloth or durable materials, or thicker paper or plastic bags that have handles. Retailers will decide whether to charge for those bags, though most probably will because such bags tend to be costlier to make.

 

Exempt from the ban will be single-use bags for bulk foods, meat, fish, produce, newspaper delivery, dry cleaning and restaurant carryout foods, and bags that charities and nonprofits use to distribute food and other items.

 

During months of debate, members of the plastics industry argued that thin plastic bags can be easily recycled and reused, such as for lining trash cans and picking up pet waste. But city leaders said the bags often end up as litter or landfill trash and cause environmental harm. Activists urged the City Council to ban single-use paper bags as well, saying they take more energy to make and transport.

 

The Texas Retailers Association was the most vocal opponent of a ban, saying it would discourage retailers from continuing robust programs they've built to accept plastic bags and plastic packaging for recycling, meaning more of those goods could end up in landfills.

 

In recent weeks, ban opponents have urged the city to pursue a program that will allow Austin residents to put plastic bags in their curbside recycling carts. Currently, the city accepts paper but not plastic bags through its curbside collection and recycling program because plastic bags can damage recycling machinery.

 

Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert said adding plastic bags to the curbside program would be costly and difficult to carry out. He also said Austin should focus on reducing the number of plastic bags in circulation, not simply on continuing to make and recycle them.

 

About a dozen people stuck around late Thursday and early Friday to offer the council their thoughts on the ban; most were in favor of it.

 

"It's time for you folks to make history and take a huge step in cleaning up your community," said Robin Schneider , executive director of the nonprofit Texas Campaign for the Environment .

 

Chris Bailey told the council a ban could have unintended consequences.

 

"People act like the solution is to just create a crime out of an everyday activity, and all of a sudden, it will go away," he said. "You're trying to modify behavior by creating a punishment for it, and this has not been shown to work. ... I think common sense is being neglected here."

 

scoppola@statesman.com; 912-2939

Basics of the ban
Austin retailers will no longer be able to offer thin, so-called single-use paper and plastic bags starting in March 2013 .Retailers will offer only reusable bags made of cloth or durable materials, or thicker paper or plastic bags that have handles.Exemptions will include disposable bags used for bulk foods, meat, fish, produce, dry cleaning, newspaper delivery and restaurant carryout foods.

 

 

For more information, visit: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/austin-bag-ban-means-penalties-for-retailers-that-2213031.html?cxtype=rss_news&viewAsSinglePage=true

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Department Stores Play an Important Role in the Success of a Designer

March 13, 2012

“American Idol” has produced Grammy winners, but reality TV has yet to produce a designer with mass commercial success. By adding retail to the formula, NBC’s “Fashion Star,” premiering Tuesday, aims to make business part of the entertainment

 

“It’s the fashion version of ‘American Idol,’ a real business process,” said E.J. Johnston, a former IMG Fashion executive who created the show’s concept with producing partner James Deutch, a former Hearst Entertainment executive.

 

The grand prize, a $6 million contract with Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M, will be awarded to one of 14 contestants on the 10th episode finale. In addition, each week buyers can place orders after each runway presentation, and viewers can buy product online that night and in stores the next day.

 

“We like the idea of big entertainment with tangible prizes, not to mention viewers like instant gratification,” said Deutch. (The show was taped over the summer, allowing retailers time to produce the clothes.)

 

“With other shows, winners still need to find a way to make their business work,” said Johnston. “We wanted to show that dream-come-true moment where a buyer says ‘I want that,’ so we made them the judges.”

 

In addition to decision making on camera, buyers must bid against one another to carry a look exclusively. “I can honestly say the show was really competitive both from the design and the buying process,” said Nicole Christie, H&M’s communications manager who was one of the show’s “featured buyers.” “It’s like going to Sotheby’s. You have to act fast and outbid the competition,” said Terron E. Schaefer, Saks’ executive vice president and chief creative officer, also a featured buyer. But the advantages far outweighed the challenges. “It’s like a 10-hour commercial for Saks,” he said.

 

Noted Macy’s vice president-regional planning manager for women’s apparel Caprice Willard, “We’re on the cutting edge of new ways to find talent and bring fashion to viewers. It’s important that retailers be open [to it] because we have to evolve in order to stay relevant. Customers are armed with far more product knowledge than ever before, so it puts the onus on us to be one step ahead.”

 

For contestants, who ranged from designers at major fashion brands to bartenders, the show means a fast track to success. “Whether or not they progress to the finale, their success is limitless. I wouldn’t be surprised if some end up in Macy’s and other storefronts,” said Willard. “There were designers who sold hundreds of thousands of dollars who didn’t win the grand prize,” added Deutsch.

 

While it remains to be seen how the clothes will sell, all retailers were optimistic about their profitability. As for the show, it has sold to 25 countries, and producers are in discussions to develop foreign versions with local retailers. Deutsch and Johnston are now developing a similar show with a 1,000-door home goods retailer. Said Johnston, “There are thousands of fascinating processes out there to add entertainment to.”

 

For more information, visit: http://www.wwd.com/media-news/film-tv/retailers-have-roles-in-fashion-star-5789620

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A Boost in Spending at Retail Stores and Malls

March 13, 2012

Americans heartened by an improving labor market boosted spending at stores and malls by the most in five months, adding to signs that the world’s largest economy is gaining strength.

 

The 1.1 percent advance followed a 0.6 percent increase in January that was larger than previously estimated, according to Commerce Department data issued today in Washington. Sales rose in 11 of 13 categories, including auto dealers and clothing stores, showing gains in demand were broad based.

 

Stocks and bond yields rose as the report indicated that the best six-month streak of employment growth since 2006 is bolstering spending even as gasoline costs rise. Job gains may not be enough to satisfy Federal Reserve officials, who today may reaffirm a commitment to keep interest rates low.

 

Consumers are “unfazed by higher gas prices,” said Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York, who correctly forecast the increase in spending. “This is a pleasant surprise on the overall picture for the economy. For the Fed, it’s steady as she goes. They will be encouraged, but there is still a long way to go.”

 

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SXP) climbed 0.7 percent to 1,380.6 at 11:22 a.m. in New York. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note increased to 2.08 percent from 2.03 percent late yesterday.

 

The gain in sales last month matched the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Estimates ranged from gains of 0.5 percent to 2.1 percent. The Commerce Department revised the January increase from a previously reported 0.4 percent advance.

Gap, Target

 

Sales at chains like Gap Inc. (GPS) and Target Corp. (TGT) last month beat analysts’ estimates. Williams-Sonoma Inc., the biggest U.S. gourmet-cookware chain, said demand improved at the start of the year following the holiday shopping season.

 

“Post holiday, we saw a progressively stronger retail environment,” Laura Alber, chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based company, said on a March 8 conference call. The company reported record earnings for 2011.

 

Sales increased 1.6 percent at automobile dealers, reversing the prior month’s drop, today’s report showed. The results fell short of industry figures that showed an even bigger gain.

 

Cars last month sold at the fastest pace in four years, led by Chrysler Group LLC and a surprise gain from General Motors Co. (GM) Light-vehicle sales accelerated 6.4 percent from January to a 15 (SAARTOTL) million annual rate, the strongest since February 2008, according to Ward’s Automotive Group.

‘Pent-Up Demand’

 

“There are a number of factors that are helping release this pent-up demand,” Don Johnson, vice president of GM’s U.S. sales, said on a March 1 conference call with analysts. “They include stronger employment, good credit availability, and both of those are leading to improving consumer sentiment.”

 

Automobile stockpiles jumped by the most in more than a year in January, leading a 0.7 percent increase in business inventories, the Commerce Department said in a separate report today.

 

Retail sales excluding autos increased 0.9 percent in February, exceeding the median forecast of economists surveyed that called for a 0.7 percent gain.

 

The sales data, which aren’t adjusted for inflation, reflected a 3.3 percent jump in receipts at service stations, the biggest gain in almost a year, as gasoline costs climbed. Regular (3AGSREG) fuel in February averaged $3.56 a gallon, or 18 cents more than January, according to AAA, the nation’s biggest auto organization. It advanced further this month, reaching $3.81 on March 12, the highest since May.

Clothing Stores

 

Purchases at clothing stores rose 1.8 percent, the most since November 2010. Furniture and general merchandise stores were the only categories to show a decrease in demand.

 

Employment and income gains are giving consumers the confidence to spend more. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to an almost four-year high in the week ended March 4.

 

Employers boosted payrolls more than forecast in February. The 227,000 increase followed a revised 284,000 gain in January that was bigger than first estimated, the Labor Department reported on March 9. The jobless rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent.

 

Job openings were little changed in January, capping the best back-to-back months since mid 2008, a signal businesses remain confident about the economic expansion, other figures from the Labor Department showed today. The number of positions waiting to be filled totaled 3.46 million, down from a revised 3.54 million in December that was higher than previously estimated.

 

For more information, visit: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-13/retail-sales-in-u-dot-s-dot-climb-the-most-in-five-months-as-recovery-takes-hold

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A Boost in Spending at Retail Stores and Malls

March 13, 2012

Americans heartened by an improving labor market boosted spending at stores and malls by the most in five months, adding to signs that the world’s largest economy is gaining strength.

 

The 1.1 percent advance followed a 0.6 percent increase in January that was larger than previously estimated, according to Commerce Department data issued today in Washington. Sales rose in 11 of 13 categories, including auto dealers and clothing stores, showing gains in demand were broad based.

 

Stocks and bond yields rose as the report indicated that the best six-month streak of employment growth since 2006 is bolstering spending even as gasoline costs rise. Job gains may not be enough to satisfy Federal Reserve officials, who today may reaffirm a commitment to keep interest rates low.

Consumers are “unfazed by higher gas prices,” said Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York, who correctly forecast the increase in spending. “This is a pleasant surprise on the overall picture for the economy. For the Fed, it’s steady as she goes. They will be encouraged, but there is still a long way to go.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SXP) climbed 0.7 percent to 1,380.6 at 11:22 a.m. in New York. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note increased to 2.08 percent from 2.03 percent late yesterday.

The gain in sales last month matched the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Estimates ranged from gains of 0.5 percent to 2.1 percent. The Commerce Department revised the January increase from a previously reported 0.4 percent advance.

Gap, Target

Sales at chains like Gap Inc. (GPS) and Target Corp. (TGT) last month beat analysts’ estimates. Williams-Sonoma Inc., the biggest U.S. gourmet-cookware chain, said demand improved at the start of the year following the holiday shopping season.

“Post holiday, we saw a progressively stronger retail environment,” Laura Alber, chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based company, said on a March 8 conference call. The company reported record earnings for 2011.

Sales increased 1.6 percent at automobile dealers, reversing the prior month’s drop, today’s report showed. The results fell short of industry figures that showed an even bigger gain.

Cars last month sold at the fastest pace in four years, led by Chrysler Group LLC and a surprise gain from General Motors Co. (GM) Light-vehicle sales accelerated 6.4 percent from January to a 15 (SAARTOTL) million annual rate, the strongest since February 2008, according to Ward’s Automotive Group.

‘Pent-Up Demand’

“There are a number of factors that are helping release this pent-up demand,” Don Johnson, vice president of GM’s U.S. sales, said on a March 1 conference call with analysts. “They include stronger employment, good credit availability, and both of those are leading to improving consumer sentiment.”

Automobile stockpiles jumped by the most in more than a year in January, leading a 0.7 percent increase in business inventories, the Commerce Department said in a separate report today.

Retail sales excluding autos increased 0.9 percent in February, exceeding the median forecast of economists surveyed that called for a 0.7 percent gain.

The sales data, which aren’t adjusted for inflation, reflected a 3.3 percent jump in receipts at service stations, the biggest gain in almost a year, as gasoline costs climbed. Regular (3AGSREG) fuel in February averaged $3.56 a gallon, or 18 cents more than January, according to AAA, the nation’s biggest auto organization. It advanced further this month, reaching $3.81 on March 12, the highest since May.

Clothing Stores

Purchases at clothing stores rose 1.8 percent, the most since November 2010. Furniture and general merchandise stores were the only categories to show a decrease in demand.

Employment and income gains are giving consumers the confidence to spend more. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to an almost four-year high in the week ended March 4.

Employers boosted payrolls more than forecast in February. The 227,000 increase followed a revised 284,000 gain in January that was bigger than first estimated, the Labor Department reported on March 9. The jobless rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent.

Job openings were little changed in January, capping the best back-to-back months since mid 2008, a signal businesses remain confident about the economic expansion, other figures from the Labor Department showed today. The number of positions waiting to be filled totaled 3.46 million, down from a revised 3.54 million in December that was higher than previously estimated.

 

For more information, visit: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-13/retail-sales-in-u-dot-s-dot-climb-the-most-in-five-months-as-recovery-takes-hold

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Shoplifting at American Apparel? Think twice.

February 20, 2012

Thieving hipsters, take note.

 

American Apparel will be tagging every neon legging, velvet bodysuit, V-neck t-shirt and iconic hoodie with an RFID sensor, the RFID Journal reports. The sensors will track items from the time they are shipped from American Apparel’s factory in downtown L.A. to when a customer purchases the item from one of its 280 stores, helping the chain to keep better track of inventory and disappearances.

 

Since entering the retail market in 2003, American Apparel has succeeded wildly by imparting its cotton basics with alternative appeal. The company supports progressive issues like gay rights, pays factory workers $12 to $14 per hour -- far above minimum wage -- and regularly incites the uptight with skin-filled ads.

 

Yet American Apparel has long been targeted by shoplifters, many of them indistinguishable from the chain's loyal customers. The company's stores initially lacked anti-theft sensors, inciting a series of plunders whose history is documented on various Facebook groups and blogs. Former employees allege that in its early years, American Apparel had a pro-shoplifting policy, explicitly asking managers to turn a blind eye so that the right type of person would have easier access to the clothes and become an unwitting spokesperson for the brand.

 

Whether or not these claims prove true, the fact that the company has made its money by catering to rebellious,anti-corporate youth has infuriated more than a few members of its target market. Arguably, shoplifting from the store was a way for some to subvert the commercialization of counter-culture. Free clothes were, naturally, a perk.

 

"This is a true story about stealing from a corporation," Tao Lin wrote in the Vice Magazine story that inspired his 2009 novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel. "American Apparel is a corporation. ... Don’t hate me for stealing from an independent clothing company, because then you'd be basing your hatred on something that isn’t real."

 

Of course, irony-tinged theft is a bad thing for any company, "independent" or otherwise. As American Apparel expanded, opening 133 stores between 2007 and today, it equipped its locations with EAS (Electronic Article Surveillence) devices, or those hard plastic sensors that get removed at cash registers. In 2007, it launched a pilot program that tested the more sophisticated RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, which track the movement of each item and help prevent merchandise from getting stolen internally, by employees.

 

In stores with both kinds of sensors, "shrinkage," or the number of items that mysteriously disappear between a factory and a store, has dropped as much as 75 percent, Stacey Shulman, American Apparel's VP of technology told the RFID Journal in April 2011.

 

Once it finishes installing the devices in every store, American Apparel -- now the largest clothing manufacturer in America -- will also have the second largest network of RFID sensors of any retailer, after Walmart. Other retailers are running trials of RFID, though the technology has yet to become an industry standard.

 

Still, theft is but one item on a long list of business problems for American Apparel. The company teetered on the edge of bankruptcy for much of last year, due to declining sales and falling stock. It is in the process of resolving a lawsuit from a former employee that accuses CEO Dov Charney of sexual harassment.

 

With demand for American Apparel's clothing so low, it's hard not to wonder whether the company longs for the days when attractive thieves flocked to its locations. Whether American Apparel manages to pull itself up will be an interesting test of how long a corporation can continue to sell "cool," when one of the only constants in its shoppers' idea of "cool" is anti-corporate sentiment.

 

For more information, visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/19/american-apparel-shoplifting_n_1285313.html

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Crocs Creating Stepping Stones For Their Comeback

February 15, 2012

Crocs Inc announced its expansion into licensing, providing opportunities for the Crocs brand to extend beyond footwear. The company has signed licensing agreements with key global and regional manufacturers for products ranging from apparel to sunglasses and other accessories.

 

“Licensing presents an opportunity to leverage one of our most valuable assets – the global power of the Crocs brand - by associating it with best-in-class products that go beyond footwear,” said Mike DeBell, Vice President of Global Sales. “More than 200 million pairs of Crocs shoes have been sold, in more than 90 countries around the world. That’s powerful testimony to the connection forged with consumers by the Crocs brand. Through strong international and regional licensing partners, we plan to extend the power of our brand and make new consumer connections.”

 

The first non-footwear Crocs-branded products included a line of adult and children’s socks from Sock and Accessories Brands, which launched in the holiday 2011 season. These are available in North America through wholesale and retail channels. Crocs-branded socks, produced by Intersocks, will also be available throughout European markets.

 

Crocs also entered an agreement with Accessory Exchange, which is producing a variety of Crocs-branded accessories for men, women and children, in several global regions. Accessory Exchange Crocs-branded products include hats, bags, backpacks, socks and gloves that are available now at Crocs retail stores and Crocs.com.

 

In April 2012, the Crocs brand will extend to children’s apparel through an agreement with the A Group. The children’s apparel will be available in 46 countries around the globe and distributed through retail and wholesale channels. Crocs-branded sunglasses and sunglass accessories also will launch in May 2012. Eye King, LLC is producing sunglasses for adults and youth for retail and wholesale distribution in the U.S. and Canada.

 

Through a partnership with ICER Brands, Crocs Professional Footwear Division will build on the loyal following of medical professionals with the introduction of Crocs-branded scrubs. This new medical gear is available now through specialty stores and online.

 

Finally, Paramount, a sports licensee, recently kicked off Collegiate and MLB licensed footwear for the brand, which is available now.

 

“As we continue to explore these and other new collaborations, I am confident our license partners will help us grow and spread our brand promise of delivering products with profound comfort, fun and innovation,” continued DeBell.

 

A world leader in innovative casual footwear for men, women and children, Crocs Inc, offers several distinct shoe collections with more than 250 styles to suit every lifestyle.

 

For more information, visit: http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/company-news/crocs-inc/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=108076


How Are You Retaining Customers?

February 13, 2012

Love just isn't enough anymore. In brand relationships, good customer service, high customer satisfaction and even professed brand loyalty won't keep consumers from ditching a product for the competition. In fact, more than half of U.S. consumers did so last year.

 

A global study by Accenture found that even though consumers are more satisfied with customer service than ever before, they are switching brands at a high rate.

 

The survey, conducted over the web in September and October 2011, queried more than 10,000 consumers to measure customer satisfaction across key attributes in 10 different industries. It found that while satisfaction increased for all those service attributes, an astounding two-thirds of respondents -- 66% -- reported they switched brands in the past year because of a bad customer experience. While the U.S.-only percentage of switchers was lower in 2011, at 51%, it is still significant and an increase over the previous year.

 

"Switching is something that's here to stay, said Robert Wollan, global managing director, Accenture customer relationship management. "Consumers have become accustomed to switching when the service or product isn't meeting their needs."

 

What is new is the big uptick in satisfaction, with increases ranging from 5% to 7% in one year, depending on the category. Consumers are happier, for instance, with shorter wait times (33% are satisfied compared to 27% last year); the ability to solve issues without having to speak to someone (38% satisfied, up from 33%); and the ability to resolve an issue by speaking to just one person (39% compared to 32%).

 

So what's going on -- shouldn't happier customers mean more loyal customers? Not necessarily. About one-fourth (24%) of consumers characterize themselves as brand loyal, while an almost equal number (23%) describe themselves as having no loyalty at all. As Mr. Wollan pointed out, not only are consumers now used to switching brands, there is a third factor on the increase that may also help explain the trend: the rise in customer expectation.

 

About 44% said they expect more, or much more, than they did last year from the brands with which they do business. In 2008, 31% said they expected more than the year before.

 

"We think the attributes we ask about -- wait times and talking to just one person to resolve issues -- have become table stakes," Mr. Wollan said.

 

Today's savvy digital customers expect polite and knowledgeable employees or convenient customer-service hours. And while they appreciate and are satisfied with those things, it's not going to stop them from taking their business elsewhere.

 

Also on the rise is partial switching, defined as when a consumer keeps a brand, but also adds another in the same category, such as buying a second mobile phone from a different provider. Partial switching in 2011 increased in all 10 industries Accenture tracks, from retail and consumer electronics to travel and tourism and banking. That's not only lost business, but more importantly, a loyalty lapse that opens a door to a new brand.

 

For more information, visit: http://adage.com/article/news/brand-love-satisfaction-shoppers-faithful/232680/


How Are You Retaining Customers?

February 13, 2012

Love just isn't enough anymore. In brand relationships, good customer service, high customer satisfaction and even professed brand loyalty won't keep consumers from ditching a product for the competition. In fact, more than half of U.S. consumers did so last year.

A global study by Accenture found that even though consumers are more satisfied with customer service than ever before, they are switching brands at a high rate.

The survey, conducted over the web in September and October 2011, queried more than 10,000 consumers to measure customer satisfaction across key attributes in 10 different industries. It found that while satisfaction increased for all those service attributes, an astounding two-thirds of respondents -- 66% -- reported they switched brands in the past year because of a bad customer experience. While the U.S.-only percentage of switchers was lower in 2011, at 51%, it is still significant and an increase over the previous year.

"Switching is something that's here to stay, said Robert Wollan, global managing director, Accenture customer relationship management. "Consumers have become accustomed to switching when the service or product isn't meeting their needs."

What is new is the big uptick in satisfaction, with increases ranging from 5% to 7% in one year, depending on the category. Consumers are happier, for instance, with shorter wait times (33% are satisfied compared to 27% last year); the ability to solve issues without having to speak to someone (38% satisfied, up from 33%); and the ability to resolve an issue by speaking to just one person (39% compared to 32%).

So what's going on -- shouldn't happier customers mean more loyal customers? Not necessarily. About one-fourth (24%) of consumers characterize themselves as brand loyal, while an almost equal number (23%) describe themselves as having no loyalty at all. As Mr. Wollan pointed out, not only are consumers now used to switching brands, there is a third factor on the increase that may also help explain the trend: the rise in customer expectation.

About 44% said they expect more, or much more, than they did last year from the brands with which they do business. In 2008, 31% said they expected more than the year before.

"We think the attributes we ask about -- wait times and talking to just one person to resolve issues -- have become table stakes," Mr. Wollan said.

Today's savvy digital customers expect polite and knowledgeable employees or convenient customer-service hours. And while they appreciate and are satisfied with those things, it's not going to stop them from taking their business elsewhere.

Also on the rise is partial switching, defined as when a consumer keeps a brand, but also adds another in the same category, such as buying a second mobile phone from a different provider. Partial switching in 2011 increased in all 10 industries Accenture tracks, from retail and consumer electronics to travel and tourism and banking. That's not only lost business, but more importantly, a loyalty lapse that opens a door to a new brand.

 

For more information, visit: http://adage.com/article/news/brand-love-satisfaction-shoppers-faithful/232680/


American Eagle Outfitters to Expand in Jordan, Morocco, & Egypt

December 27, 2011

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. announced the opening of stores in three new international markets—Morocco, Jordan and Egypt. The company also opened its third store in Saudi Arabia, and has plans for a second store in Lebanon in early 2012.

The leading lifestyle brand, with a fleet of more than 1,000 stores worldwide, currently operates in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE through its franchise partner, M.H. Alshaya, one of the most experienced retailers in the world.


American Eagle Outfitters opened in Jordan on November 30 in Taj Mall. Morocco’s store opened in Casablanca at Morocco Mall on December 1. The Egypt store is located in Cairo’s City Stars Mall, and opened on December 10.


The partnership with Alshaya, signed in May 2009, was AEO’s first foray into bricks-and-mortar stores outside of North America. Since then, AEO has opened stores in Russia, China and Hong Kong, and signed franchise agreements for stores in Japan and Israel as well, working with various franchise partners.


“American Eagle Outfitters’ ongoing international expansion is evidence of the success and positive customer response, as well as the expertise of our valued partner, M.H. Alshaya,” said Simon Nankervis, vice president of global business development, American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. "


“We are continuously delighted by consumers’ excitement and passion for the American Eagle Outfitters brand as we pursue our international expansion strategy around the globe. We look forward to announcing new stores and additional countries in the coming months.”


Even before American Eagle Outfitters began opening stores abroad, customers around the world were fans of the brand. The company’s e-commerce site shipped internationally beginning in 2004, and today ships to 77 countries, with Italy being the latest to join.


All American Eagle Outfitters international stores offer a similar product assortment as those in the U.S., which is well known for being high-quality, on-trend fashion at affordable prices. Most stores also feature the company’s Aerie brand, a confident, sexy intimates and apparel line for young women in their twenties.


American Eagle Outfitters Inc., through its subsidiaries, (AEO, Inc.) offers high-quality, on-trend clothing, accessories and personal care products at affordable prices.

 

 

American Eagle Outfitters Inc
 
 

http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/apparel-news/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=106443


The Release of Air Jordans: Several People in Jail and Several Others Wounded.

December 27, 2011

Fights, vandalism and arrests marked the release of Nike’s new Air Jordan basketball shoes as a shopping rush on stores across the United States led to unrest that nearly turned into rioting.

 

The outbursts of chaos stretched from Washington state to Georgia as shoppers — often waiting for hours in lines — converged on stores Friday in pursuit of the shoes, a retro model of one of the most popular Air Jordans ever made.

 

In suburban Seattle, police used pepper spray on about 20 customers who started fighting at the Westfield Southcenter mall. The crowd started gathering at four stores in the mall around midnight and had grown to more than 1,000 people by 4 a.m., when the stores opened, Tukwila Officer Mike Murphy said. He said it started as fighting and pushing among people in line and escalated over the next hour.

 

Murphy said no injuries were reported, although some people suffered cuts or scrapes from fights. Shoppers also broke two doors, and 18-year-old man was arrested for assault after authorities say he punched an officer. “He did not get his shoes; he went to jail,” Murphy said.

 

The mayhem was reminiscent of the violence that broke out 20 years ago in many cities as the shoes, endorsed by former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan, became popular targets for thieves. It also had a decidedly Black Friday feel as huge crowds of shoppers overwhelmed stores for a must-have item.

 

In some areas, lines began forming several hours before businesses opened for the $180 shoes that were selling in a limited release.

 

As the crowds kept growing through the night, they became more unruly and ended in vandalism, violence and arrests.

 

A man was stabbed when a brawl broke out between several people waiting in line at a Jersey City, New Jersey mall to buy the new shoes, authorities said. The 20-year-old man was expected to recover from his injuries.

 

In Richmond, Calif., police say crowds waiting to buy the Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords at the Hilltop Mall were turned away after a gunshot rang out around 7 a.m.

 

No injuries were reported, but police said a 24-year-old suspect was taken into custody. The gun apparently went off inadvertently, the Contra Costa Times reported.

 

Seventeen-year-old Dylan Pulver in Great Neck, New York, said he’s been looking forward to the release of the shoes for several years, and he set out at 4:30 a.m. to get a pair. After the first store he tried was too crowded, he moved on to a second location and scored a pair.

 

“I probably could have used a half a size smaller, but I was just really happy to have the shoe,” he said.

 

The frenzy over Air Jordans has been dangerous in the past. Some people were mugged or even killed for early versions of the shoe, created by Nike Inc. in 1984.

 

The Air Jordan has since been a consistent hit with sneaker fans, spawning a subculture of collectors willing to wait hours to buy the latest pair. Some collectors save the shoes for special occasions or never take them out of the box.

 

The Associated Press

 

http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/world/article/644647--new-air-jordans-cause-shopping-frenzy