Consumer confidence going out like a lamb

Filed under: Retail |

After an upturn in February, consumer confidence dropped in March, reflecting the uncertainty American consumers have about future economic conditions, according to results of the RBC Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household Index.

The index for March stands at 86.2, a considerable decrease from 96.1 in February.

RBC’s CASH Index is a monthly national survey of consumer attitudes about the current and future state of local economies, personal financial situations, savings and confidence to make large investments.

This month’s findings are based on a sample of 1,000 adults polled nationwide March 6-8.

Expectations for local economies have worsened. The RBC Expectations Index for March dropped significantly from 59.4 to 40.7. Currently, one in five respondents expects the local economy will be weaker.

Opinions about purchases remain stable, with 38 percent of those surveyed reporting that they are more confident in making a major purchase like a home or a car and 45 percent stating that they are comfortable making other household purchases.

Confidence in job security has remained stable, with 41 percent of Americans reporting that they are more confident about their job security than six months ago. As a result, the RBC Jobs Index for March stands at 118.5 – virtually unchanged from 119.3 in February.

Merchandise counterfeiting bill an NRF favorite

The National Retail Federation welcomed passage of legislation that would close a major loophole and protect consumers from counterfeit consumer goods.

Joseph LaRocca, NRF vice president for loss prevention, said in a news release that the law will close that loophole and protect U.S. consumers from counterfeits that can range from cheap imitations of designer apparel to unsafe baby formula that threatens the health of infants.

He said counterfeiting costs America hundreds of billions of dollars and has harmful effects throughout the economy.

On March 16, President Bush signed H.R. 32, the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act, which was sponsored by Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich. The legislation, which first passed the House in May, won final passage this month after the House agreed to an amendment passed in the Senate in February.

Under current law, the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit labels and packaging intended to accompany counterfeit products is legal as long as the labels haven’t been attached to the bogus products. The new law closes that loophole, making it illegal to traffic in counterfeit labels, patches, stickers, hangtags and similar items regardless of whether they have been attached to products.

Enactment of the bill comes at a time when unauthorized imitations of apparel, handbags, accessories and other general retail merchandise are costing U.S. companies an increasing amount in lost sales each year.

The FBI has estimated losses due to counterfeit goods at $250 billion annually.

Group makes $265 million bid for Jamba Juice

Led by former Blockbuster CEO Steven Berrard, Services Acquisition Corp. plans to turn privately-held Jamba Juice into a public firm — if the group’s $265 million bid for the company closes.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and shareholder approval. If the acquisition is completed, Services Acquisition will change its name to Jamba Inc. and maintain its listing on the American Stock Exchange.

Opening its first location in 1990, Jamba Juice reported $345 million in sales last year. The chain has 532 locations nationwide.

Paul Clayton, who joined the company in 2000 after serving as president of the North America operations for Burger King, will continue to run Jamba Juice. He said in a statement that the deal will give Jamba Juice “the capital to reach its full potential.”

The international franchise annual expo

The International Franchise Association sponsors an annual exposition that showcases hundreds of franchise concepts.

Franchising companies from an array of industries attend the expo, offering concepts at all investment levels. The expo is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and promoted worldwide as part of their International Buyers Program.

For more than a decade, the IFE has been the meeting place for the franchise industry – where franchisors both domestic and international, franchisees, suppliers, industry publications come together to conduct the business of franchising.

The 15th annual IFE will be held June 2-4 in Washington, D.C., at the Washington Convention Center.

Best Western expands online

Best Western is working with WorldRes to expand its presence online.

The distribution partnership will make Best Western a preferred hotel provider for WorldRes. In return, WorldRes will have access to Best Western inventory and retail rates.

Best Western hotels will be featured on the worldres.com consumer site in addition to the WorldRes affiliate network, which includes Opodo, hotel.de, SAS and Bestlodging.com.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.