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Survey: Open-concept kitchens resonate in 2013

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A new Fall Houzz Kitchen Remodeling Survey demonstrated that open-concept kitchens are trending this year, though homeowners aren’t necessarily looking for increased square footage.

Of the 7,500 Houzz users surveyed who are planning a kitchen remodel, only a third are expanding, though three-quarters are opening up their kitchens, and 3-in-5 are incorporating kitchen islands.

An overwhelming number of respondents (94%) also said they were changing their countertops, with granite and quartz being the popular choices (86%). 

Other trending items were stainless steel appliances (preferred by two-thirds of respondents), with many choosing to combine them with appliances integrated into the cabinetry. "Soft and neutral" colors also prevailed (75%), and nearly half said they valued eco-friendly appliances and materials.

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Survey: 40% of consumers curb spending in midst of government shutdown

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A consumer survey conducted Oct. 10-13 by ORC International on behalf of ICSC and Goldman Sachs found that 40% of consumers have tightened their belts in the face of the federal government shutdown.

Of the demographically representative sample, lower-income households were more affected than their upper-income counterparts: Those with income of $35,000 or less were 15% more likely to curb spending than those making at least six figures.

Of the 40%, the majority (70%) said they were only scaling back "a little," with 13% making "considerable" reductions in spending.

"As Congressional leaders optimistically predict a budget deal may soon be reached, it is clear that the fallout of the past two-week impasse in Congress has affected consumers’ willingness and maybe their ability to spend," said Michael Niemira, VP research for ICSC. "Hopefully, if the end of the government shutdown truly is in sight, this is likely to restore consumer confidence quickly and well ahead of the holiday season."

A recent Gallup survey also found that consumer confidence had dipped to 2008 levels during the shutdown.

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Survey: Top retailer sites too slow

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The websites for the top 500 U.S. retailers are still too slow and continue to get slower – pages have slowed down 14% since summer 2013, and are 16% slower than fall 2012, according to a study by Radware. 

Radware’s quarterly “State of the Union” report measures and tracks the performance and page composition of the top 500 U.S. retail websites (as ranked by analytics firm Alexa.com) over a two-day period with the purpose of gaining ongoing visibility into the real-world performance of leading Ecommerce sites.    

Key findings from the “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Fall 2013” include:

The trend toward bigger, slower pages continues. The median page took 8.56 seconds to load for first-time visitors, representing a 14% slowdown over the median of 7.48 seconds recorded three months ago (summer 2013).

The median page takes 5.3 seconds to become interactive. Sites have experienced a slowdown of 8% since summer 2013, when the median time to interact (TTI) was 4.9 seconds. Ideally, pages should be interactive in 3 seconds or less. (TTI is the point at which a page displays its primary interactive content (e.g., feature banners with functional call-to-action buttons.)

Three common design practices are failing users. Most sites made at least one of three critical mistakes in the design and presentation of their feature content: loading feature banners last; placing a call-to-action at the bottom of feature banners; and/or not implementing a call-to-action at all.

The adoption of performance best practices is inconsistent, even among leading sites. Among the top 100 sites, adoption of some best practices is nearing the saturation point, whereas others remain neglected.

Browser vendors are not keeping pace with page demands. Across all three major browsers, performance is trending downward as browser vendors struggle to keep pace with the demands of today’s large, complex, dynamic web pages.

“In just the last few years, web page speed has migrated from the fringe to center stage, emerging as not just a technology trend, but a hot-button business issue,” said Tammy Everts, web performance evangelist, Radware. “Numerous studies have found an irrefutable connection between load times and key performance indicators, such as conversion rates and revenue increases. Site owners need to understand that optimizing performance is much more nuanced than just pushing out faster pages to customers: It’s about understanding what users want from every page of your site, then fine-tuning those pages to ensure that critical content loads first instead of last. A site owner who neglects core-performance best practices is missing out on significant opportunities to make relatively easy performance gains.”

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