Personal income, spending rise in December
Figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department on Jan. 31 showed a 7% increase in consumer spending in December 2010, compared with the previous month. This continues an upward trend: Personal expenditures also rose in November 2010 by 4%.
Personal income increased 4% for the second straight month in a row, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“Today’s data show consumer spending clearly accelerated at the end of last year,” said U.S. Commerce Department Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank. “Personal income also posted stronger gains in the fourth quarter compared with the third. Looking ahead, we expect disposable personal income to get a boost from the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, which increases the take-home pay of many working families. Taken together, we expect these income and spending data to support stronger economic growth in 2011 — a top priority for President Obama and this administration."
Other data released by the Commerce Department showed that private wage and salary disbursements increased $15.5 billion in December 2010, compared with an increase of $5.9 billion in November. Goods-producing industries’ payrolls increased $1.5 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $2.5 billion; manufacturing payrolls increased $0.2 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $2.5 billion. Services-producing industries’ payrolls increased $14.0 billion, compared with an increase of $8.4 billion. Government wage and salary disbursements increased $1.6 billion, compared with an increase of $1.3 billion.
For all of 2010, the economy grew 2.9%, the best performance since 2005. Overall, wages grew by 3%, and inflation is up 1.2% to the end of December.
Merchandising shake-up at Walmart
It turns out the announcement earlier today by Walmart that Duncan Mac Naughton would serve as head merchant of the company’s U.S. division was but one component of a more extensive shakeup at the company.
Walmart issued a press release early Friday that Mac Naugton had been named CMO after serving just three months as EVP merchandising responsible for health and wellness, consumables and Walmart.com. However, other personnel moves and restructuring actions were disclosed only in internal company announcements beginning with a message from Wal-Mart Stores president and CEO Mike Duke under the heading of “How we are building the next generation Walmart.”
According to Duke, who was fresh off a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where Walmart hosted a breakfast, the next generation Walmart is one where the company could serve as many as 1 billion customers a week.
“If we are going to continue to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, we must adapt to reach them on their terms. We’ll do this by collaborating in new ways globally, leveraging our talent and developing ways to service customers anytime, anyplace,” according to Duke.
Accordingly, Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon elevated Mac Naugton to the chief merchant role and then in an internal announcement spelled out several other moves, but did not mention who would be filling Mac Naughton’s shoes.
In operations, Raul Vasquez, who served briefly as EVP of Walmart’s western division was given a new role as EVP global e-commerce. Filling his position is Michael Bender who joined Walmart in 2009 from Cardinal Health and previously served as SVP of Walmart’s mountain division. Rosalind Brewer will serve as EVP of Walmart’s eastern division and will fill a position previously occupied by Hank Mullaney. Mike Moore will serve as EVP of the central region.
With Vasquez’s move to global e-commerce, he will oversee developed markets as part of a restructuring implemented by vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright. He announced that Wan Ling Martello would serve as EVP global e-commerce for emerging markets and business development. The company also expects to name an EVP and chief technology officer for its global e-commerce unit.
Castro-Wright said that Walmart global group created a year ago has a strong foundation in place, but the new structure “will ensure we are responsive to all of the multichannel shopping needs of our customers across every market.”
In addition to the U.S. merchandising and operations changes and the Global eCommerce developments, Walmart executives Rollin Ford, chief information officer, and Sam’s Club president and CEO Brian Cornell, announced a new team called Global Business Processes that will be led by Rick Webb as SVP innovations.
In the new role, Webb will be responsible for enhancing Walmart customers’ shopping experience, increasing the effectiveness of the merchandising, planning and marketing organizations and identifying opportunities to better optimize merchandise flow. Webb reports to Ford.
The company also created a new organization called Global Customer Insight and indicated it would soon name someone to lead the group.
Gift card scammer targets Home Depot, Lowe’s
A man already convicted of forgery and grand larceny in New York State is also facing a federal indictment that accuses him of gift card scams at Home Depot and Lowe’s totaling $78,800, according to an article in the Buffalo News.
Randall McGovern, 41, was convicted in 2010 for possession of stolen property and given a 3.5-year to seven-year sentence. In September 2010, he plead guilty to forgery and grand larceny for buying a 46-in. television set with a bounced check for $2,157; ordering an $8,400 industrial range and taking it home after pretending to be an employee of a local construction company; and selling some stolen construction equipment to a Niagara Falls company for $10,000.
McGovern now faces federal charges that accuse him and an unnamed accomplice of fraudulently obtaining and redeeming $42,000 worth of Home Depot gift cards in 2005 and 2006, as well as attempting to pull a $36,800 gift card scam on a local Lowe’s store.