New Trends…Convenience Stores To Focus on Food in 2012

Newswise — CHICAGO- Convenience stores (c-stores) are not typically recognized for their food selections, but as tobacco and gas prices rise, fewer people are spending money on these items and other c-store staples. In the January 2012 issue of Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Digital Editor Kelly Hensel writes that c-stores are beginning to shift their attention to growing their food/beverage and foodservice segments in order to compete with quick service restaurant chains.

According to data from Symphony IRI Group, the c-store channel is expected to see a growth rate of about 3 percent between 2010 and 2012, and one of the key drivers of this expansion are foodservice items. Technomic Director Tim Powell says that recently convenience stores are increasingly falling into the same consideration set as fast food restaurants. As technology and food innovation continue, c-stores will continue to capitalize on the opportunity to present consumers with better quality products with do-it-yourself customization.

C-stores are well known for their coffee bars that offer customers a way to make their coffee the way they like it. Some chains switched to a thermal dispensing system last year in order to keep coffee fresh tasting. In addition some c-stores offer hot tea reaching the previously untapped demographic of female consumers and those 50 years and older. It’s the hope that by getting consumers in the door with beverages, they will also end up choosing one of their many new food items such as breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs, made-to-order sandwiches, soups, etc.

Snacking is also becoming a key driver for all c-stores. According to a survey by Snack Factory more Americans would prefer to reach for snacks throughout the day instead of having three solid meals. Pairing foods with beverages is also a popular way c-stores can drive profits. Also due to the shifting paradigm of what is considered a snack, for example a hot dog or pizza slice as a snack instead of a meal can increase traffic at c-stores throughout the day.

Released: 1/12/2012

Source: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

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Halloween Indicates If Holiday Season Will be Retailers’ Trick Or Treat

Newswise — There are 14 million people officially unemployed in the United States; another 12 million have stopped looking for jobs. Yet the ghoulish economy is not scaring away Halloween consumers, and that means the holiday season will not be a nightmare for retailers.

“Halloween sales really reflects well the mood of the consumer and the economy in this country,” says Mickey Gee, M.A., executive-in-residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business. “Halloween sales is a number that we as retailers really look at because it often will indicate how much extra help we need to hire for the holiday season, how much we need in inventory levels and the amount of promotion we need to do or not do.”

The National Retail Federation says the average person will spend almost $75 on Halloween, up nearly $10 dollars per person from last year. According to Gee, an instructor with the UAB Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics, Halloween is the second largest event-driven season for retailers.

“With costumes, decorations, pumpkins and candy, Halloween will approach almost $7 billion in total expenditures, which is more than double what was spent in 2005,” said Gee. “I even saw one statistic that said people will spend around $300 million this year just to dress their pets.”

So why is Halloween a treat for those being tricked by the economy? Gee, an active retailer for 40 years, says Halloween is exactly what people need because of the economy. “We get tired of all bad news that we get inundated with on the nightly news,” Gee said. “People are ready for a little frivolity, so – dress up like a ghoul and have a good time!”

Almost half of adults and children will wear a costume this Halloween. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a great retail season. Gee is quick to point out – you don’t have to go to Target to be a pirate. Even so, he believes holiday sales predicted to increase 2 percent to 2.3 percent from this past year is an underestimate.

“This year we are predicting a pretty robust Halloween season, but so far our predictions for the holiday season have been a little bit less than robust,” says Gee. “When we finally get our numbers in here for Halloween I think you’ll see those holiday numbers go up in early November.”

Released: 10/14/2011
Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Via Newswise

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Business and Retailing News….Consumers Rely on Signage Over Other Ad Media

Newswise — Businesses looking for a sign on how to prosper in a down economy need look no further than their own indoor and outdoor signage.

That’s because University of Cincinnati analysis of a market research survey of more than 100,000 North American households found that shoppers are drawn into stores and make important quality inferences on the basis of signs.

In fact, one of the surprising finds of the UC research performed in collaboration with BrandSpark/Better Homes and Gardens American Shopper Study™ is just how highly ranked signage is among forms of communication used to provide new product information.

When consumers were asked to rate the perceived usefulness of various media, only television was ranked more highly than signage as the most useful source of new product information.

According to UC researcher James J. Kellaris, “Although television was rated as the most useful source of new-product information, indoor signage (such as those at point-of sale, e.g., signage at the ends of store aisles or at check outs) tied with magazine ads as the second most useful source. And outdoor signage ranked third, followed by radio ads, Internet ads and finally, newspaper ads.”

He added, “So, what we found was that signage, a basic form of technology and communication that evolved in antiquity still works even in today’s Internet age.”

Kellaris will present his findings at the National Signage Research and Education Conference held Oct. 12-13 in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city that serves as a premier global hub for the marketing industry. Kellaris holds the James S. Womack/Gemini Corporation Chair of Signage and Visual Marketing in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at UC.

The survey also explored an important visual acuity issue: driving by and failing to find a business because its signage was too small or unclear.

“This appears to be a major problem,” said Kellaris. “Nearly 50 percent of American consumers report that this has happened to them.”

Although the problem is universal across genders and regions, it varies across age groups.
Surprisingly, this is not a “senior citizen” phenomenon, as both younger and older age groups report more signage communication failure than the middle (35-49, 50-64) age groups.

“What we see is a U-shaped distribution with the younger shoppers being just as affected as boomers and seniors. Surprisingly, 64 percent of women aged 18 to 24 report having driven by and failed to find a business due to small, unclear signage.”

The BrandSpark/Better Homes and Gardens American Shopper Study™ is performed annually by leading independent market research firm BrandSpark International in conjunction with the Better Homes and Gardens Best New Product Awards program. The sample for this survey includes over 100,000 North American households, with approximately 63 percent being U.S. consumers ages 18 to 65+.

“The survey provides a goldmine of data,” said Kellaris. “Our ongoing partnership with BrandSpark allows marketing faculty with varying interests to explore the database to uncover consumer insights relevant to many business areas, including the signage industry.”

The most recent survey included several items of interest to those in the signage business, including some critical issues—such as the economic value of signage.

For researchers like Kellaris, the importance of the collaboration with BrandSpark and Better Homes and Gardens Best New Product Awards program lies in the ability to track these initial findings with a massive sampling year after year.

“With an annual survey, one can tweak or add new questions. We can also spot trends, track changes over time,” said Kellaris. “We can even assess the impact of regulatory changes within geographic areas as sign codes are updated. This has implications for businesses and communities.”

Released: 10/10/2011

Source: University of Cincinnati

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Price Too High? Budget Tight? Negotiate for a Better Deal!

Newswise — Winston-Salem N.C. — According to the Federal Reserve, economic growth remains slow and signs point to continuing weakness. Unemployment rates remain elevated, and household spending has been increasing at only a modest pace. While this may affect your household budgeting, it could also work in your favor. Charles Lankau, a business professor and expert in negotiation at Wake Forest University, says in this economy, consumers should be assertive when shopping for just about everything.

These days retailers and service providers are willing to negotiate to get your business, says Lankau. “As a consumer in today’s economy, people need to ask themselves, ‘Am I about to spend some money?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ negotiating is almost always appropriate. Price, terms, perks or extras—most of the time they are there if you just ask.”

For those new to bargaining, Lankau offers the following tips:

Give yourself permission to negotiate. Bargaining is one of many valuable budget-stretching tools available. Use it.

Focus on the result, not on any misplaced embarrassment for asking. Think of how good it will feel if you get something for your efforts. Even if you are successful, it’s a win-win situation. In most cases, the seller will still be making a profit.

Touch a chord. Choose your words carefully to reach the emotional side of the person you are dealing with, for example: ‘I’m just not sure I can afford this. Can you do any better?’ Practice different approaches in the car to see how they sound.

Practice. Just like in sales, keep trying, and your ‘ask’ will improve.

Track your results. Keep a note card in your glove box and jot down every time you purchase an item for less than the asking price. It adds up! Seeing your savings grow is a great motivator.

Lankau says large purchases, like cars and homes, or competitive services for television or telephone, are expenses where people expect to negotiate, but deals can also be found in retail shops. “My mother never hesitated to point out a flaw, if there was one, in a blouse or sweater, and she almost always received at least a ten percent discount.”

Released: 9/23/2011
Source: Wake Forest University
Via Newswise
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Business News; The Best in the U.S. for Entrepreneurship: How States Rank

Newswise — It’s been said that entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art, it’s a practice. But which parts of the United States are getting the most practice? According to a new state-by-state measurement of entrepreneurial activity, New York is at the top, followed by Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon.

The Empire State topped the newly released State Entrepreneurship Index, a nationwide analysis and ranking method that evaluates how states stack up in terms of business formation and innovation.

Economists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Bureau of Business Research and Department of Economics developed the State Entrepreneurship Index, or SEI, by combining five key components – a state’s percentage growth and per capita growth in business establishments, its business formation rate, the number of patents per thousand residents and gross receipts of sole proprietorships and partnerships per capita.

The result is a comprehensive look at the levels of entrepreneurship in each state, said Eric Thompson, UNL associate professor of economics and director of the Bureau.

“The SEI uses a broad group of indicators rather than just raw counts of business starts,” Thompson said. “This ensures that the index reflects sales and innovation among a state’s businesses as well as the business formation rate.”

A state index for each component is assigned based on how much each state’s performance is above or below the average of all state data, which has a value of 1.0. For example, a component one standard deviation above the average gets a value of 2.0, while a component one below is assigned a value of zero. A state’s overall SEI number is the average of the five index values.

For 2010, the latest year for figures, New York’s score was 2.34, thanks to its strong performance in gross receipts per capita and substantial improvement in two other components: growth in establishments and establishments per capita. Washington (2.17), Massachusetts (2.04), New Jersey and Oregon (both at 1.93) completed the top five.

Oregon was the biggest climber in the rankings, to No. 5 from No. 45 in 2008, while Delaware moved up 28 spots to No. 14. The drastic changes were largely caused by growth in establishments and establishments per capita. Kentucky, Texas and Rhode Island also saw marked improvement, jumping 26, 25 and 25 spots, respectively.

South Carolina, with an index of 0.07, was No. 50 and Arizona (0.11) was No. 49, behind Mississippi (0.32), Nevada (0.33) and Alabama (0.41). Nevada, which was No. 7 in previous rankings, highlighted a handful of states that experienced steep drops. Arkansas, Tennessee and Utah also saw significant ranking drops, mostly because of sharp declines in growth of establishments and establishments per capita in those states.

The State Entrepreneurial Index combines detailed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IRS Statistics of Income Bulletin, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Statistical Abstract.

State-by-state rankings are available for download in graphical format at or in tabular form at

Released: 8/2/2011
Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Via Newswise

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Asia Retail News: Chinese Consumers Help Luxury Retailers Rebuff Sluggish Economy

Newswise — Sales of luxury goods, which analysts say could spike as much as eight percent this year, are soaring thanks to expanding personal wealth in China, says a luxury retail expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

“One of the key factors driving global sales of luxury goods is the burgeoning Chinese economy and the concomitant expansion of its affluent classes,” says Martin K. Sneider, adjunct professor of marketing at Olin Business School.

“These people are anxious to demonstrate their successes and newly found wealth,” he says. “What better way than purchasing and displaying or wearing the signature luxury items that Louis Vuitton and other similar brands market?”

While the United States hopes to avoid a “double-dip” recession, global demand for luxury goods is skyrocketing.

Luxury retail giant Moët-Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), the world’s largest maker of luxury goods, announced recently that profits beat analysts estimates in the first six months of 2011 as demand for its products soared in America, Europe and emerging markets.

LVMH plans to open two new stores in Asia and expand four others this year.

Hermes International SCA, the French maker of luxury handbags and silk scarves, raised its target for annual revenue growth, saying first half operating profit, when numbers are released, should grow 12 to 14 percent.

Domestically, despite what many see as a still fragile economic outlook, the luxury market has taken off as well.

“The stock market has recovered, commercial real estate has rebounded and corporate earnings and salaries are robust,” Sneider says. “The self-imposed austerity of 2008 and 2009 is but a distant painful memory for wealthy Americans. Comparative store sales are up every month for Saks and Neiman-Marcus, which provides further proof that for their customers the recession is history.”

Sneider teaches the “Luxury Apparel Marketing” course at Olin Business School. During a two-week class tour of luxury goods’ headquarters in Europe this year, Sneider and his students learned first hand about the upturn in this niche market.

“It was an eye opening experience for the students,” Sneider says. “We had presentations from senior executives, buyers and strategists from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Burberry, Brunello Cucinelli, Gucci, Armani and more. I think the students were able to see the pride these retailers take in their products and some of the reasons they are expanding so quickly.”

Released: 7/29/2011
Source: Washington University in St. Louis

Via Newswise

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Fashion and Retailing News: Madonna & Daughter Lola Debut New Material Girl Marketing Campaign Featuring Kelly Osbourne

KELLY OSBOURNE Madonna along with her daughter Lola unveils the new Fall 2011 marketing campaign for their junior brand, Material Girl starring Kelly Osbourne. The campaign creative represents the quintessential New York City scene with Osbourne photographed in Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, Soho, the West Village, Little Italy and Chinatown. Material Girl is exclusively available at Macy's and (PRNewsFoto/Iconix Brand Group, Inc.)

Material Girl and Macy’s Launch Back-To-School Marketing Campaign

NEW YORK, June 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — MG Icon, the joint venture between Iconix Brand Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ICON) and Madonna, in partnership with Macy’s announced today it will continue its association with actress and television personality Kelly Osbourne for the fall 2011 Material Girl marketing campaign titled, “MG + NYC.” The multi-media marketing campaign will debut in September issues of fashion and lifestyle magazines such as PEOPLE StyleWatch, Nylon, Seventeen, Teen Vogue and Cosmopolitan as well as online, outdoor, in-store and in Macy’s marketing collateral.

“We have both enjoyed working with Kelly and are thrilled to have her on board for the launch of the Fall 2011 collection,” commented Madonna and her daughter Lola.

“I’m really enjoying being the face of Material Girl. I love being part of a brand for girls and having the opportunity to work with Lola who has an amazing fashion instinct. Added to that is the fact that Madonna has been a big influence on my style over the years,” stated Kelly Osbourne.

The campaign creative represents the quintessential New York City scene with Osbourne being photographed for a series of print ads in Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, Soho, the West Village, Little Italy and Chinatown. The background includes the world famous Empire State Building, as well as a more playful feel with Osbourne on top of a double-decker tourist bus riding down Fifth Avenue.

Dari Marder, chief marketing officer, Iconix Brand Group, commented, “Kelly has been an amazing partner for Material Girl; she has truly embraced the brand and our consumers have reciprocated.” Marder added, “The essence of Material Girl is all about your own personal style and individuality. The new fall campaign, ‘MG+NYC’ reflects all the different sides of our Material Girl, from uptown to downtown.”

“Today’s ‘Material Girl’ really relates to the fashion independence and individuality of Kelly Osbourne,” said Martine Reardon, executive vice president of marketing and advertising, Macy’s. “We are so excited to continue with Kelly for the fall season, as we look to bring fresh fashion and inspiration to our new generation ‘Material Girl.'”

In addition to appearing in the campaign, Osbourne will make personal appearances on behalf of Material Girl brand at Macy’s.

Material Girl is a fast-fashion junior collection inspired and designed in collaboration with Madonna and her daughter Lola, along with Iconix Brand Group’s in-house fashion department. To stay up to date with the latest news from Material Girl, follow @MaterialGirlCol on Twitter and use the hash tag #MGNYC. Become a fan of Material Girl on Facebook at

SOURCE Iconix Brand Group, Inc.


What’s in a Label? Asian Consumers Taking Fashion Brands to a New Level

Picture Courtesy of

Singapore – June 23, 2011 – There has been much written about the increased spending power of Asian consumers, in addition to their penchant for fashion and brand names, many of which have launched or expanded in Asian markets over the last decade. Now there is evidence that not only are people in India and China more brand-conscious than their counterparts in Europe and the U.S. – they also are quite open in their passion for brand names in the context of fashion.

In fact, almost three-quarters of adults in China (72%) and in India (74%) admit that brand names are important to them when purchasing clothing and accessories, compared to just one-quarter in the U.S. (26%), Great Britain (24%), and even in the country known as the world’s fashion haven – Italy (28%)!

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll conducted online by Harris Interactive among 9,222 adults in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and India (June 1 and 10, 2011), the U.S (May 24 and 26, 2011) and Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy (May 25 and June 1, 2011).

Trendy vs. Classic

There are indications that in certain markets purchasing classics is more important than being trendy. 74% of Americans tend to purchase classics versus trends; a practice which is shared among adults in China (71%), India (70%), France (60%), the UK (58%), Germany and Italy (57% each).

However, in China and India, 63% indicate that they “like to be the first out of their friends to have the latest trend” whereas a quarter or fewer in all the other countries agree (between 9% and 24%).

In most of the markets studied there is a strong belief that good brand names translate to quality products; 9 in 10 adults in India (89%) and China (92%) believe that brand names provide better value due to quality, a thought shared by majorities in Singapore (75%), the U.S. (65%), Italy (63%), and France (53%) as well. However, in Spain (41%), Great Britain (48%) and Germany (47%), fewer than half think this is the case.

In Singapore (77%), India (72%), Great Britain (68%), the U.S. (66%), Spain (65%) Italy (64%) and Germany (63%) there is also a fondness for bargains, even if they are not brand names “as long as it is trendy.” In Singapore where shopping is a national pastime – and on the heels of the Great Singapore Sale – 41% report the main reason for their last purchase as “I was just browsing and it caught my eye.” One in five adults in Singapore said they made their most recent purchase because “it was on sale and I just couldn’t resist a bargain.”

Brands of What Exactly?

In Europe, branding is important when it comes to cosmetics and fragrances. In France 61% indicate that brands are important in for cosmetics and fragrances and many adults in the UK (46%), Italy (61%), Spain (48%) and Germany (41%) say the same. In Italy and Spain majority said brand names are important for sunglasses (60% and 52%, respectively).

In China and India, brands of watches are important, with 83% in China and 87% in India indicating this. 79% in China indicate that jewelry brands are important yet only one in five in France (22%), the U.S. (20%) and Germany (19%) agree .

In terms of their most recent clothing purchases, Indians were most likely to have made their recent purchase for a specific occasion, with 25% indicating this, which is not surprising given the number of family events, weddings and celebrations that their country is known for. Adults in India also indicate that brand names are important for formal wear, with 79% saying so.

So What?

While brand names may always be important, there are different values associated with these recognizable labels depending on the culture. Majorities in many countries agree that brand names are generally good quality, but in some places trendiness and the love of a bargain can trump the benefits of a well-known label.

In markets like China and India, conveying an interest in brand names is paramount, especially when it comes to status symbols like formal wear for a wedding or a shiny watch. With the growing buying power of consumers in these markets it will be important for brands to continue to tailor their products to appeal to their consumers’ specific cultural values and beliefs.

Source: Harris Interactive

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New Products: Cobra to Showcase Cobra Tag™ and Other Consumer and Mobile Electronics Innovations at gdgt live in New York

Cobra Tag. (PRNewsFoto/Cobra Electronics)

NEW YORK, June 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Cobra Electronics Corporation (NASDAQ: COBR), celebrating 50 years of innovation in 2011 as a leading designer and manufacturer of award-winning consumer and mobile electronics, today announced it will showcase some of its newest and most innovative new consumer electronics devices as a sponsor of gdgt live in NY, a high energy gadget showcase which kicks off the CEA’s CE Week in New York City. The event takes place June 21, 2011, from 7:00-10:00 p.m. at the Altman Building, 135 West 18th Street, in the heart of downtown Manhattan.

At gdgt live and throughout CE Week, Cobra will preview some of its latest CE and mobile electronics innovations. Among them, Cobra Tag powered by Phone Halo Technology, is an ingenious alarm and loss prevention system that consists of a smartphone app that is paired via Bluetooth® to a small, sleek key fob device. Owners download the free Cobra Tag app to their smartphone and then attach the Cobra Tag device to any item they wish to protect, such as car keys, a purse, or a backpack. The Cobra Tag system monitors the distance between the phone and tagged items and produces an audible alert if they become separated.

The company will also be demonstrating Cobra iRadar™, the industry’s most advanced smart detection system, providing Cobra customers with personal safety, driving peace-of-mind, and near real-time safety information updates. Other products on display during various events during CE Week will include Cobra PhoneLynx™, a unique and affordable solution to eliminating landline home phone bills, as well as the entire 2011 family of industry-leading radar detectors from Cobra.

“As we celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2011 and our long-standing relationship with the consumer electronics industry and the CEA, we are delighted to play a key role in the first-ever CE Week festivities in New York,” said Sally Washlow, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Cobra Electronics. “As most of us know, the ‘town that never sleeps’ is an easy place to misplace cell phones, purses, and backpacks, so it’s the perfect venue to preview our exciting new Cobra Tag device.”

“All of us at gdgt are excited to be kicking off CE Week in New York City with innovative sponsors like Cobra,” said Peter Rojas, co-founder of gdgt. “There’ll be tons of cool new gadgets to play with, free gdgt t-shirts and smartphone cases, and chances to win some amazing gear. It’s a great opportunity for users to interact with, and give feedback to, the companies creating the gadgets they can’t live without.”

SOURCE Cobra Electronics


Economic News; Deloitte Consumer Spending Index Continues Downward

Rising unemployment claims and inflation weaken the outlook on consumer spending

NEW YORK, June 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index (the Index) continued to decline in May, weighed down by a sharp rise in unemployment claims last month. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“The labor market indicators are the primary cause of weakness in the Index, however the economy is up against other temporary headwinds that suggest weak growth may persist for the near term,” said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly Index. “Rising food and energy prices continue to hurt real wages, which combined with Americans’ insecurities about the job market, compound the pressure on consumer spending.”

The Index, which is comprised of four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages, and real home prices — fell to 2.66 percent, from an upwardly revised gain of 3.29 percent a month ago.

“Prices for everyday necessities continue to climb, leaving consumers with fewer discretionary dollars to spend,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail & distribution sector leader, Deloitte LLP. “As retailers are also challenged by rising prices, they should consider using some of the latest tools and analytics capabilities to more surgically improve margins while keeping prices low on traffic builders. Leveraging their rich transaction data in combination with new advanced analytics techniques can help to maximize sales without alienating loyal consumers. Insights into spending patterns, product preferences and price sensitivities can help retailers apply strategies to respond to a more selective consumer and keep costs in check.”

Highlights of the Index include:

Tax Burden: The tax burden is up slightly, from 9.1 to 10.15 percent from a year ago. A rising tax burden is typically a sign of an improving economy.

Initial Unemployment Claims: After breaking down below the 400,000 barrier from October to March, claims have increased sharply to 432,500. A decline in the labor market puts the current recovery at risk.

Real Wages: In the most recent month, real wage growth contracted by 0.8 percent from a year ago and is being held down by rising energy and food prices.

Real Home Prices: Real home prices continue to decline, albeit at a slightly slower pace. Prices over the past three months have shown some stability but are still down 3.3 percent from a year ago. New home inventories are almost back to normal levels despite record low level of transactions.

SOURCE Deloitte

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