Record Black Friday bodes well for holiday sales
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The recession grinch may have to pack it up this holiday season, as initial spending indicated that this year’s holidays are on track toward some pretty significant growth as compared with last year.
(THE NEWS: Black Friday proves to be record day for retail, NRF reports. For the full story, click here.)
Maybe it’s the "super deals" that many retailers presented even before the pumpkin pie was placed on the Thanksgiving table, as those retailers sought to get a jump start on Black Friday sales a day early. Or maybe the cool, dry November weather that was in stark contrast to the rain storms earlier in the month got people to walk off their holiday eating … in a retail setting. Or, maybe, it’s that "Last Christmas" message that end-of-the-world extremists are touting — better make sure that this year’s holiday season is extra jolly, because there won’t be another, they say. Happy Holidays!
Or maybe people are just spending again.
No matter the reason behind the spending, the fact that shoppers are spending bodes well for retailers who are looking to blow out some holiday merchandise this year. And it’s not just Black Friday that was hopping — analysts were projecting a pretty strong Cyber Monday, too. comScore on Sunday reported that for the holiday season to date (first 25 days of November), $12.7 billion have been spent online, marking a 15% increase versus the corresponding days last year.
On Black Friday there were $816 million in online sales, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011, and representing a 26% increase versus Black Friday 2010. And it turns out that many people who didn’t want to join that pre-Black Friday shopping spree while the after-dinner coffee was brewing were satisfying that shopping bug online — Thanksgiving Day, while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 18% increase to $479 million in online sales, comScore reported.
The online Black Friday winners in terms of most-visited sites (and excluding auction sites) were, in order: Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple, according to comScore.
“Despite some analysts’ predictions that the flurry of brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we still saw a banner day for e-commerce, with more than $800 million in spending,” stated comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it’s clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels. We now turn our attention to Cyber Monday, a day that Shop.org says will see 8-in-10 retailers running special online promotions. Last year, Cyber Monday was the heaviest day of online spending ever, with sales exceeding $1 billion, and we fully expect to see another record set this year.”
Retailers sue Federal Reserve
NEW YORK — A coalition of retail organizations, including the National Retail Federation, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Association of Convenience Stores, have filed a lawsuit charging that the Federal Reserve failed to comply with a new law requiring it to reduce fees bank charge retailers when shoppers use credit cards.
The law, which went into effect Oct. 1, said that banks could charge a maximum of 21 cents when consumers use a debit card, down from an average of 44 cents per transaction.
The retail groups argue that the Reserve Board’s rules "have allowed big banks to continue charging unjustifiably high swipe fees" and are discouraging price competition among credit card networks, contrary to the requirements of the law.
The lawsuit alleges that the Fed — under pressure from the banks and card industry — included costs in that calculation that were barred by the law.
"Doing so has deprived merchants and their customers of the full extent of the swipe fee relief to which they were entitled," NRF said in a statement.
All signs point to growth for convenient care industry
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — In recent months there have been a string of key milestones within the convenient care industry, and now the new Rand Corp. study indicates that clinic usage climbed tenfold between 2007 and 2009 — impressive growth and a clear message that retail-based health clinics are a significant player within the U.S. healthcare system.
(THE NEWS: Study: Retail clinic usage rose tenfold from 2007 to 2009. For the full story, click here.)
As the article states, the study examined 2007 to 2009 claims and enrollment data provided by Aetna for its 13.3 million enrollees in 22 markets in which there are retail clinics. Of that number, 3.8 million enrollees made at least one clinic visit between 2007 and 2009. The utilization rate during the study period rose from a monthly rate of 0.6 visits per 1,000 enrollees in January 2007, to 6.5 visits per 1,000 enrollees in December 2009.
Among the key predictors of clinic usage: convenience, age and income. Those enrollees who live close to a retail clinic, are between 18 and 44 years old, and have a higher income are more likely to use a retail clinic.
It also is important to note that the American Journal of Managed Care, which published the study, stated that if the trends within the convenient care industry continue, then health plans can expect to see a dramatic increase in clinic usage.
In fact, just within the past week or so, CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic has announced that it now is a provider with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. Furthermore, during the third quarter, MinuteClinic entered its 11th clinical affiliation and, on Nov. 21, announced an affiliation with Emory Healthcare in the Atlanta metro area. Oh, and don’t forget that MinuteClinic has surpassed its 10 millionth patient visit since its inception.
All of these factors, in addition to other developments within the industry, undoubtedly point to growth for the convenient care industry.