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Easter, warmer weather boost spending in April

BY Dan Berthiaume

ATLANTA — Consumer year-over-year spending growth of 4.1% gained momentum in April 2014 compared with the prior month’s growth of 3.1%, driven by warmer weather, as well as the Easter shift into April this year, according to First Data SpendTrend analysis. The report, which tracks same-store point-of-sale data by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks from nearly four million merchant locations serviced by First Data, shows transaction growth of 3.5% in April,  compared to March’s 2.7% growth.

Higher gas prices, an uptick in job creation and a lift in consumer confidence also supported the growth. Gas station spending growth of 3.3% marked the highest growth since July 2013 as gas prices eclipsed the prior year’s levels. Retail spending growth and transaction growth of 1.3% and 2.4% gained traction compared to March’s growth of -0.5% and -1.2%, as the Easter shift pushed holiday retail purchases and related foot traffic into April.

Spending growth at clothing & accessories, stores and health & personal care stores of 1.2% and 0.2%, respectively, spiked compared to the previous month’s growth of -5.0% and -2.4% as shoppers visited these merchants for candy, Easter-themed toys and spring apparel. Dollar volume growth of 3.6% at building material & supply stores slowed slightly from the previous month’s growth of 4.3% but remained healthy as higher temperatures encouraged spending on garden, home construction and outdoor items.

Average ticket growth of 0.5% was up compared to March’s growth of 0.3%, the strongest growth in the past 12 months, driven by an increase in gas and food costs. Gas station average ticket growth was 0.4% vs. -4.1% last month, the highest growth in nine months. Average ticket growth of 1.8% was seen in food & beverage stores, the highest growth in more than a year.

Looking at different methods of payment, credit card dollar volume rose 4.3%, signature debit volume rose 4.5%, PIN debit volume grew 4.1%, prepaid card volume increased 6.9%, and check volume dropped 2.7%.

“Overall spending growth was strong and gained momentum over March as the Easter shift into April and the return of warmer weather encouraged consumers to get out and shop,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, information and analytics solutions, First Data. “Consumer confidence and job creation also bounced back, which put consumers in the mood to release their pent-up demand from the extended winter. We also saw debit spending growth continue to rise, due in large part to higher tax refund values and volumes through April.”

 

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Simple Skincare campaign highlights impact of city living on skin’s health

BY Antoinette Alexander

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. — Unilever’s Simple Skincare range of facial products has kicked off the “Kind to City Skin” — a global initiative designed to help women understand the impact that city living — both environmental and lifestyle-related factors — can have on their faces.

While most women are already aware of skin-irritating behaviors to avoid, such as excessive sun exposure or a high-sugar diet, a new survey reveals that women in the top 40 cities nationwide don’t realize the wear and tear their everyday lifestyle may be having on the health and appearance of their skin.

In launching “Kind to City Skin,” Simple created a provocative time-lapse video and is providing information, tools and a range of products to help women’s city skin thrive.

The Simple brand’s time-lapse video dramatically depicts the potential effects city living can have on a woman’s face in just 14 days. Simple will unveil the video on billboards in select cities worldwide, starting Monday with New York (Times Square).

While the skin damage in the video was created using makeup and special effects, the dramatization is grounded in insights, expertise and research, led by Simple advisory board member and board certified dermatologist Debra Luftman and Unilever scientists, the company stated.

“Women across the country — in cities big and small — know they need be proactive with their skin health, but they don’t always realize how their daily physical environment and lifestyle-driven habits can make their skin sensitive,” said Dawn Hedgepeth, marketing director, Simple Skincare. “We wanted to issue a wake-up call to women everywhere with a visual that dramatizes the need to be kind to city skin with Simple. We are also hosting events in cities nationwide so women can learn how to care for their skin from the inside out with a holistic approach.”

Simple, in partnership with go-to lifestyle destination POPSUGAR.com, will be hosting interactive events in the following cities (exact locations and times will be available on the simpleskincare.com site):

  • May 17th: Boston
  • June 1st: Cincinnati
  • June 7th: Chicago
  • June 14th: Minneapolis
  • June 21st: Dallas, TX
  • June 28th: San Francisco, Calif.
  • July 12th: Los Angeles

 

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NCL names winners of the third annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The National Consumers League on Monday announced the winners of the third annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge for health profession students. This month-long competition engaged students and faculty across healthcare disciplines in developing creative ideas for raising awareness about a critical public health issue: medication adherence. This year’s awardees are Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Touro University California College of Pharmacy, Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy and University of Wisconsin — Madison School of Pharmacy.

“This was the second year we challenged students to work in collaborative teams of future health professionals who interact with patients — the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and others,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director. “This more comprehensive approach will ultimately result in patients hearing from multiple voices encouraging them to take their medication as directed.”

The 2014 Medication Adherence Team Challenge is part of the national Script Your Future public awareness campaign coordinated by NCL. The campaign includes more than 135 public and private stakeholder organizations, including Challenge sponsors — the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation, the American Medical Association, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Student teams from pharmacy, medicine, nursing and many other health professions worked side by side on campuses and in local communities using innovative solutions to reach thousands of consumers to raise awareness using Script Your Future materials. This year, students also submitted entries in the categories of “Health Disparities Outreach” and “Creative Inter-Professional Team Event.” Coordinators also established, new this year, the award for “Effective Communication and Media Outreach.”

“The Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has been an innovative method for our future healthcare professionals to engage with their local communities,” said Lucinda Maine, EVP and CEO at AACP. “The levels of communication and types of events held in these communities provide essential information and strategies for patients to improve their medication adherence and ultimately their health outcomes.”  

More than 2,200 future healthcare professionals held 300 events in 26 states and the District of Columbia, counseling more than 9,300 patients and reaching more than 6 million consumers nationwide.

“It is vital for patients to take their medication as directed in order to achieve optimal health outcomes,” said AMA president Ardis Hoven. “Educating patients through community outreach helps improve the conversations happening in doctors’ offices across the country and helps patients avoid adverse drug reactions and unnecessary hospitalizations. The Script Your Future challenge presents an excellent opportunity for healthcare professionals-in-training to improve public health.”

“The involvement of students and faculty in the effort to boost medication adherence is incredibly important,” said NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger. “The Medication Adherence Team Challenge establishes this issue as a top priority for the next generation of health professionals and inspires them to advance this goal within their own communities. The winners are showing the tremendous power that healthcare professionals can have on advancing patient care through medication adherence. We hope that is a lesson they will carry with them throughout their careers and that will inspire others to do the same.”

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