Consumer sentiment keeps rising
An index of consumer sentiment rose for the fourth month in a row, gaining 5.8 points and reaching its highest level since last June. The Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index hit 69.9 points in December, and researchers pointed to falling gasoline prices, mildly better employment prospects, an uptick in the stock market and real income growth.
IHS Global Insight is forecasting holiday retail sales to rise slightly less than 5.0% above last year’s sales of approximately $453 billion. (Holiday sales are defined as not seasonally adjusted November plus December total retail sales minus autos, gasoline, food services and non-store retailers.)
Retailers can expect strong holiday sales in the final stretch, according to the IHS forecast, although the consumer mood may sour if the political gridlock over the extension of the payroll tax cut and emergency unemployment benefits linger.
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Do it Best expo reinforces margin opportunities
New products and new-product knowledge took center stage earlier this month at Do it Best Corp.’s New Product Expo held in Woodburn, Ore.
Among the hundreds of new products added to inventory were more than 100 exclusive Channellock items, the company said.
“Our members have a number of ways to get information about product launches and line enhancements through our website, markets, online catalogs and various other member communications, but the sheer number of great new items added to inventory can sometimes be overwhelming,” said Jay Brown, VP sales and business development for the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based co-op. “And that’s where the idea for an expo first took root. Our field sales team, in full partnership with other divisions, created a model program for attracting our members to regional meetings where they could not only pick up the products, examine their packaging and learn about their margin potential, but also place orders right on the spot.”
The Woodburn event took place Dec. 2. The co-op’s expos, held at retail service centers throughout the country, are the result of extensive collaboration between Do it Best’s sales and business development, merchandising and retail logistics divisions.
Further enhancing the value of the New Product Expos was the addition of vendor seminars and informative Do it Best Corp. training sessions. “Along with the tables and tables of new items, we offered our members the opportunity to tour their warehouse to learn about the operational efficiency of the co-op,” said regional sales and business development manager Dave Enmark. “At our recent Waco, Texas, expo we included training sessions on Do it Best Radio, Category Solutions, store design, paint, LBM, advertising and our Compete and Win program. Everything was well received, and our members left with a number of ideas to immediately implement in their stores as well as new products to attract and retain customers.”
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Valspar opens R&D facility in China
The Valspar Corp. has announced the opening of a new research and development center in Shunde, China. The Valspar Applied Science and Technology Center will employ more than 200 scientists to support the continued growth of Valspar in Asia Pacific and Valspar’s research and development on a global basis.
“This facility enables us to bring a higher level of value to our relationships in the Asia Pacific region by allowing us to be closer to our customers,” said Valspar president and CEO Gary Hendrickson. “The research and development center will give our customers a unique competitive advantage. Valspar’s strategy is to continue to invest in our people and our businesses in China.”
Valspar’s 2011 global sales totaled $4 billion, including sales in Asia Pacific of $1 billion. Nearly half of the sales in the Asia Pacific region are in China, where Valspar currently has five manufacturing facilities. Valspar produces and sells coatings for numerous end markets in China, including consumer paints, food and beverage packaging, shipping containers, furniture, building products, and agricultural and construction equipment.
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