Digital cameras at top of Mother’s Day wish-list

Filed under: Retail |

Mom’s family role appears to be “chief family historian,” according to a Circuit City Mother’s Day shopping survey.

Digital cameras were listed as the gift of choice, and electronics ranked second.

More than 3,000 moms and dads responded to the survey.

Asked to choose their preferred Mother’s Day gift:

  • 20 percent of moms would choose a digital camera
  • 16 percent of moms would choose flowers
  • 16 percent of moms would choose a camcorder
  • 12 percent of moms would choose DVD movies or music CDs
  • 9 percent of moms would choose an MP3 player
  • 1 percent of moms would choose candy

The same survey confirmed mom’s love for picture taking.

When asked who takes most of the family photos, 58 percent of parents said mom, 26 percent said dad and 15 percent said kids or others.

Forty-two percent of moms said they are thinking about upgrading or shopping for a new digital camera, and 55 percent said the feature they want most in a new camera is better picture resolution. Eighteen percent said they want faster shutter speed, and 14 percent said they wanted a better lens. Thirteen percent said they wanted a small, sleek design.

Retailers urge state efforts on $36 billion credit card fee

The National Retail Federation is working to combat interchange fees, which add to about $36 billion for consumers each year.

An interchange fee is a percentage of a credit card transaction that Visa and MasterCard collect from retailers each time a credit or debit card is used. The amount varies with type of card, transaction and merchant, but averages about 2 percent.

NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan, who also serves as chairman of the Merchants Trade Coalition, a group of trade associations representing merchants who accept credit cards, spoke out against the fees during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ spring meeting in Washington.

He told legislators that interchange fees are of particular concern because they are added to the transaction after sales tax has been applied to purchases, resulting in a larger fee than if it applied only to merchandise.

Retailers are required to remit the entire sales tax amount to state treasuries, so merchandise must be priced high enough to compensate for the interchange charged on the sales tax, he said.

Nine states have introduced at least 15 pieces of legislation dealing with interchange fees this year, including measures to ban them on the sales tax portion of transactions in Florida, Kansas, Nevada, New York and Washington.

Kentucky, Nebraska and Texas have introduced bills requiring credit card companies to be more transparent in disclosing rules and fees.

A bill in Tennessee would cap interchange rates at 0.75 percent. Some states have multiple bills pending that address various aspects of interchange.

Most consumers do not know that they are paying an interchange fee because Visa and MasterCard do not disclose the charge on monthly statements and prohibit retailers from showing it on receipts.

The two credit card companies collected about $36 billion worth of interchange fees during 2006, up 17 percent from the year before and 117.5 percent since 2001.

With the 2 percent average rate roughly equal to the retail industry’s average profit margin, Duncan explained to legislators that retailers cannot absorb the charge and are effectively required to pass it on to consumers. Since Visa and MasterCard require the advertised price of merchandise to be the credit card price and make cash discounts difficult, the fee drives up prices even for consumers who pay by cash or check, he said.

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee plans to hold a hearing about interchange fees this year, and the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee might include the issue in its investigation of abusive credit card industry practices and fees.

Meanwhile, 50 antitrust lawsuits about the issue are pending in U.S. District Court in New York.

MaggieMoo’s creates new trend, ice cream cupcakes

The world has seen its fair share of ice cream dessert inventions, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cakes and ice cream shakes and even ice cream candy bars.

And now, ice cream shop chain MaggieMoo’s has come up with a new offering to the everything-ice-cream mix — ice cream cupcakes.

The cupcakes are a concoction of dark chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake and marshmallow filling with chocolate ganache and icing on top.

While that’s the standard flavor and recipe for the cupcakes, MaggieMoo’s says it can make them in any flavor with any design.

The cupcakes made their debut on cable TV’s Food Network

MaggieMoo’s is based in Columbia, Md., and has more than 190 locations across the country, including one in The Promenade Shops at Briargate.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.