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Consumer confidence shaken

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index in December fell to 38.0, down from 44.7 in November. The new figure is the lowest since 1967, when the business group began tracking the index. A reading of 100 represents 1985 levels of confidence.

Also on the decline were the Present Situation Index, down from 42.3 last month to 29.4 in December; and the Expectations Index fell from 46.2 to 43.8.

“The further erosion of the Consumer Confidence Index reflects the rapid and steep deterioration of economic conditions that occurred in the fourth quarter of 2008,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “The Present Situation Index is now close to levels last seen in the months following the 1990 to 1991 recession, but is not as low as levels reached during the 1981 to 1982 recession. Declines in the Expectations Index appear to be moderating, but this index continues to hover at historical lows. Both sub-indexes bear careful watching over the next several months to see if they are starting to show signs of approaching a bottom. In the meantime, however, the overall economic outlook remains quite dismal for the first half of 2009, and only a modest recovery is expected in the second half.”

Consumers’ short-term outlook was only moderately more pessimistic. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen over the next six months increased to 32.8 percent from 28.3 percent, while those expecting conditions to improve rose to 13.4 percent from 11.5 percent.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for the Conference Board by TNS.

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Radio Systems acquires ScatMat line

BY HBSDEALER Staff

British Columbia-based Contech Inc. sold its ScatMat product line to Radio Systems Corporation of Knoxville, Tenn. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Contech Inc. designs and manufactures animal control and wellness products and non-toxic pest management products for home and garden, forestry, landscape, agriculture, and commercial applications. The ScatMat is an indoor pet training device that can be placed on furniture, in doorways, on countertops or window sills. It emits a mild static pulse when a pet touches it, and it helps to establish out-of-bounds areas.

“The capital from this sale bolsters our ability to grow our key product segments through internal development and acquisition,” said Mark Grambart, president and CEO of Contech. Among Contech’s pet and garden brands are EatBetter and DrinkBetter bowls, WaterDog, CatStop, ScareCrow, and pheromone-based insect traps.

Radio Systems Corporation is the owner of PetSafe, PetSafe Pro, Invisible Fence, SportDOG,?Innotek, Guardian, Staywell and FenceMaster brands.

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Wangler Ace Hardware hires PR firm

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wangler Ace Hardware in Fort Recovery, Ohio, has hired Eisen Management Group (EMG), a Cincinnati-based public relations and marketing firm, to develop and implement a new communications and marketing program, EMG reported.

According to EMG president Rodger Roeser, one of the main aspects of the campaign is to establish Wangler Hardware as a community hub.

“As a fourth generation family business, Wangler Hardware has a reputation of true customer service,” Roeser said. “They have expanded to include more than just basic hardware. As a brand new Vision 21 Ace Hardware store, they’ve evolved into a major player in the Fort Recovery community.”

EMG has developed a new logo and tagline for Wangler and recently finalized new radio creative for the company. A new Web site, www.WanglerHardware.com, will be unveiled in early January.

“By letting them handle our marketing work, we have more time to focus on serving our customers,” said Mike Minor, who owns the store with his wife Patti. “It lets us do what we love, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results of our combined efforts.”

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