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Generative AI Data Privacy Risks Need to be Weighed, Experts Say

| Mike O'Brien

While generative AI is unquestionably a transformative technology being applied virtually everywhere, companies would do well to consider their potential for sharing sensitive personal information that could cause them to run afoul of privacy regulations both here and abroad. A cautious approach and careful attention to things like the structuring of contract agreements is advised, experts said.

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Consumers Don’t See Categories Like Retailers, Survey Finds

| Mike O'Brien

U.S. consumers are sending out mixed signals on their spending habits and financial self-assessments, according to management consulting firm Kearney, with over 50% saying they’re living check to check, even as retail sales rise, inflation is down and mall traffic is up. The firm also found consumers views are often at odds with the kinds of fixed categorizations endemic to the retail industry.

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Target Sees Sales Decline from Pride Boycott

| Mike O'Brien

Target reported weaker Q2 sales, acknowledging it was partly due to backlash over its annual pride month collection in May, first from shoppers who reacted negatively to items like children’s clothing in front-of-store displays, then from LGBTQ groups angered by the company’s response. However, Target’s earnings beat expectations, efficiency efforts including automation and lean inventory.

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Brand Loyalty and the Impact of Changing Consumer Behavior

| Michelle Wood

Brand loyalty plays a crucial role in retail success. But the consumer behavior dynamics are constantly evolving, and recent trends indicate a significant shift in how they approach purchasing decisions. With rising price consciousness, there are valid concerns about the potential erosion of brand loyalty as consumers prioritize cost savings over allegiance, for both everyday brands and luxury sellers.

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Economic Picture Iffy, But NRF Calls for Record Back-to-School Spending

| Mike O'Brien

Economic signals are a bit of a mixed bag heading into the important back-to-school and back-to-college shopping season, an economist with the National Retail Federation said, with inflation easing but spending on services and essential items still impacting spending on goods. In spite of this unsettled macro picture, the NRF projects record spending on K-12 and college.

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BNPL Usage Grows, Curbside Pickup Declines

| Mike O'Brien

Buy now pay later (BNPL) usage continues to grow, as cash- and credit-strapped consumers dinged by inflation use it for a wider variety of purchases. The share of online purchases using BNPL increased by 14% and revenue grew by 27% in 2022, according to new data from Adobe Digital Insights.

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Sizing Up Consumer Trends in 2023 with S&P

| Mike O'Brien

With a month of 2023 behind us, everyone in retail is wondering how consumer trends will play out this year in the face of ongoing (but lessening) inflation and a tricky macroeconomic picture, to say the least. To get a better understanding of the months ahead, we spoke with Sarah Wyeth, Retail Sector Lead for S&P Global Ratings.

Consumer Data Bonanza Over Cyber Weekend

| Mike O'Brien

The recent Cyber Weekend was a boon for online mining of consumer data, with major social media players using cookies to track users’ activity across the internet, including of course ecommerce websites, often without permission, then sell the data to advertisers.

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SMS Marketing Over the Holidays: What it Means for 2023

| Greg Zakowicz

SMS marketing shows zero signs of slowing down. Once an up-and-coming channel, it’s now a must-have for ecommerce brands. Even with the growth, there’s still plenty of opportunity to capitalize on it, especially when combined with email marketing. Here are 5 takeaways from the 2023 holidays you can apply in the New Year.

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Inflation, Economy Dominated 2022 Headlines

| Mike O'Brien

James Carville famously told Clinton campaign workers in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and that mantra dominated again 30 years later, as high inflation and recession fears dogged the retail industry this year, leading to massive discounting to drive sales, often at the expense of profits.