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Nielsen report says more than a third of U.S. shoppers cutting back this holiday season

BY Jenna Duncan

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. According to research released today by the Nielsen Co. about 35 percent of consumers in the United States plan to be spending less on holiday shopping this year. Nielsen surveyed 21,000 households with various incomes to produce the research.

A very small amount—6 percent—said that they plan to spend more on the holidays than last year and about and half of the people surveyed said they plan to spend the same amount this holiday shopping season as last year. The timeframe equal to about one month between Thanksgiving week and the last week of December is the period commonly referred to as the “holiday shopping season.”

About 28 percent of consumers surveyed said that they plan to spend at department and electronics stores, Nielsen said. But more shoppers—about 50 percent of those who said they would be spending the same amount as in 2007—said they would be making purchases at grocery stores, mass retailers and supercenters and mass merchandisers. Another 12 percent of shoppers said they would likely be buying gift cards at convenience and drug stores and/or gas stations, the survey results said.

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Diamond Foods reports quarterly dividend earnings of about $0.05 per share

BY Jenna Duncan

STOCKTON, Calif. Diamond Foods has announced approval by its board of directors of a $0.045 per common share payout.

The company has said that dividend funds will be payable Oct. 29, to stockholders on record as of Oct.16.

Diamond Foods recently completed a successful acquisition of Pop Secret brand microwave popcorn from General Mills, adding to its snack and nut empire. For more information on the company, visit. www.diamondfoods.com.

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Safeway announces its Q3 earnings for 2008

BY Jenna Duncan

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway today reported a net income total of $199.7 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, for 2008’s third quarter. This total compares to its net income for the same time 2007, $194.6 million, or $0.44 per diluted share.

Safeway said that its total sales were up by 3.9 percent, totaling $10.2 billion for the third quarter 2008, up from last year’s third quarter total of $9.8 billion. The company said that the rise was caused by profits from Safeway’s Lifestyle stores as well as an increase in fuel prices. Same-store sales were up 2.8 percent with fuel (0.5 percent not considering fuel).

“During the third quarter we took action to provide our customers with better everyday values,” chairman, chief executive officer and presiden, Steve Burd, said in a statement. “As we begin the fourth quarter, our sales momentum is building, with identical-store sales (excluding fuel) currently above 1.5 percent, and we are continuing to reduce costs. We continue to believe our diluted earnings per share for 2008 will be in the range of $2.25 to $2.35 for this 53-week year.”

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