Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Home Improvement Research Institute Research Finds Good News for Market Growth

No one is calling it breakout growth, but the housing market is picking up, and along with it comes spending on home improvement.

That’s one of the broad strokes from the latest “Size of Market” study from the Home Improvement Research Institute. The study, executed by IHS Economics, estimated the total home improvement product universe up 4.5% for the year. The major home center chains were running higher than that figure, but the other channels of distribution lagged — paint and wallpaper stores, lawn and garden, equipment and supply stores, and appliance stores, among them.

Meanwhile, after an anemic 1% growth in the final quarter of 2015, the economists behind the “Size of Market” study expect the economy to “get back on track” in the first half of 2016 (notwithstanding the stock market, which will do what it will do). Expectations for real GDP are in for 3.0% growth in the second quarter. The story there is solid gains in sales to domestic purchasers and weak export demand, combined with a slowdown in investment in inventories.

What’s this mean for the size of the home improvement market? Mostly positive — the pace of growth of home improvement products sales is expected to increase 4.7% in 2016, reaching $333.5 billion.

Read the entire article courtesy of HBS Dealer:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Consumers Rank Panera, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, DQ as Favorite Brands

Nearly 50,000 individual assessments of 36 QSR (Quick Service Restaurants) brands over the first quarter of this year have resulted in a couple of eye-opening Top 10 lists. Consumers, for example, ranked Panera Bread, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Dairy Queen and Baskin-Robbins as their favorite brands, according to Phoenix Marketing International, which collected data through its Restaurant XP mobile insights platform to reveal how QSR guests rated brands based on performance and service. Through the combined use of mobile devices and GPS, the platform gives customers a chance to provide feedback about their experiences while they’re still in the restaurant.

In total, 49,474 assessments were collected on 36 brands between January and March. According to the responses of those diners, the top decisive factors on a restaurant's performance include the delivery of "fast, efficient service" and "food served fresh." The research shows that restaurants that surpass expectations on those two aspects fare best on ratings....

Check out the Top 10 list and read the full article courtesy of Fast Casual:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

New Auto Launches to Reach Record Pace

Automakers will sell a record 20 million new cars and trucks in 2018, and will introduce new vehicles at historically high rates through the end of the decade, according to a forecast in the annual Car Wars report released Wednesday.

John Murphy, senior auto analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research, told the Automotive Press Association on Wednesday in Detroit that the industry is still in the midst of a “very significant” upturn, and that demand — driven in part by low interest rates — will continue through 2020. As a result, automakers will drastically increase the pace at which they put out new cars and trucks from an average of 38 per year over the past few decades to 58 per year from 2017-20.

“Introductions are reaching unprecedented levels,” Murphy said. “(Automakers are) realizing more and more these product introductions are key. ... If you have new, good fresh product, you tend to gain market share.”...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When it comes to payments, cash and cards still reign supreme

When it comes to payments, cash and cards still reign supreme. But one digital alternative is not far behind.

Those are among the key findings of a new study, “How America Pays,” by Blackhawk Network, that surveyed more than 1,000 Americans in March 2016 to examine preferences for traditional and emerging payments tools and the role payments play in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

The survey, now in its second year, found that while cash is still king, it is starting to decline slightly. Eighty-seven percent of Americans reported using cash to pay in the last year, down from 93% the year before. Sixty-nine percent used credit cards, up one percentage point from last year....

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Break Up With These 9 Costly Travel Habits

Let's be honest: Organizing a cost-effective trip can feel like an overwhelming task. Even if you've mastered pro tricks for scoring discounted flights and room rates and devised a well-thought-out travel budget, scaling back costs isn't always stress-free – or attainable. Sure, experts can recommend the right times to book your tickets and list favorable (and cheap) places to travel for the best prices, but it's up to you to put these tips into practice. Maybe you're a spur-of-the-moment adventure-seeker who aims to clinch the best deals by waiting until the last minute for price drops. Or perhaps you're a careful planner who always reserves flights months in advance. Are these habits optimizing savings or derailing your chances of cutting costs? We spoke with experts to identify common travel mistakes that can make the difference between a pricey or budget-minded getaway. Banish these bad habits to save time and money on your next trip.

See all 9 practices to eliminate stress and maximize savings by reading the complete article courtesy of U.S. News & World Report:

Monday, May 23, 2016

What moms look for when buying a house

Traditionally, when people with children have looked to buy a new home, they were more concerned with neighborhood schools, walkability and convenient shopping than with the actual layout of the home they’d be occupying.

But that is changing, says Jeff Martel, a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE) agent in Boise, Idaho. “Ten years ago, the only thing families were looking for was square footage and a large yard,” he said. “Configuration of the home is more important now,” as people prefer open floor plans rather than separate dining and living rooms.

“We see less and less formal spaces,” Martel said, as floor plans with separate dining rooms aren’t as preferable as a larger kitchen, often not just with one large central island, but two islands. “Everything happens in the kitchen,” he said. “Kids use the islands now for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said.

Separate home offices are out too, replaced by an office nook off the main living space so that parents can keep tabs on what kids are looking at online. “You want a family office that’s very visible with a direct sightline to the kitchen,” he said....

Read the entire article courtesy of MarketWatch:

Friday, May 20, 2016

In-Store Coffee Shops Give Boutiques a Jolt

Jane Motorcycles’ slogan is something of a joke: A sandwich board sign outside a sweeping glass facade reads, in marquee caps: FREE ESPRESSO WITH PURCHASE OF MOTORCYCLE.

While Adam Kallen, one of Jane’s co-owners, will tell you about their "stupid slogan" with a fully self-aware laugh, the message comes in earnest. ("Of course we’re more than happy to give someone a free espresso after they buy a bike," he assures me over the phone.) Both products, after all, promise to give your slogging life(style) the jump it needs.

Jane’s owners’ greater hope is that, hey, if you’re not in the market for a motorcycle right this second, maybe you’ll stop in for a cup of Counter Culture Coffee, or a leather jacket, or a currently-very-popular acai bowl, or a cozy beanie. Jane offers all of this (and more!) in pursuit of both a lifestyle brand and a financially sustainable retail operation that can satisfy anybody who walks by with a wallet and one of many sorts of hunger.

A few streets down, you’ll find Parlor coffee, where you’ll have to walk past a number of men in leather chairs getting haircuts in order to order their morning cortado. At Saturdays Surf NYC across the river in Manhattan, you can sip an iced latte and browse surf boards and apparel, rain or snow or shine. In San Francisco’s Mission District, a visit to the beloved Heath Ceramics building isn’t complete without a New Orleans iced coffee (and a cookie, if you’re smart) from the Blue Bottle Coffee outpost nestled into their entryway. In Copenhagen’s Atelier September you can can purchase a pourover and then look at handmade furniture. Our cities’ coffee shops are slowly morphing into boutiques, and vice versa; in the right hands, it’s not a bad thing. And in case you had any doubt, their collective Instagram game is on point.