I have to admit it – I’ve always thought artificial Christmas trees were stupid. But I’m a man of the 21st century, and I wondered what kind of environmental impact came about through all that chopping. Well, thank you to Trucost for at least slightly absolving me of whatever guilt I feel for buying a real Christmas tree every year. According to Trucost research, artificial Christmas trees are six to ten times more environmentally costly than real Christmas trees. But as with all statistics, there is more to the story. One fact is that most of us real tree people end up purchasing many natural trees over our lifetimes of Christmas revelry.

Guest Blog By Brian Miller

With profit margins shrinking and overhead costs soaring, retailers are under immense pressure to cut costs. While most business managers look far and wide for new cost saving ideas, too few are looking at indirect categories as a way to cut costs. According to sourcing data from the past two years, retailers could save hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars by competitively sourcing facility maintenance services like store cleaning, floor care, and snow removal.

 Guest Blog by Claire Mula

This festive quarter, Comscore estimates 13% of all e-commerce transactions will be made via a mobile device in the US, up from 8% in Q4 2011. Globally, AIBI Research expects 1 in every 4 e-commerce dollars will be spent via mobile in five years. How does this compare with today’s “mobile-first” markets in Asia? What should retailers and brands seeking to engage Asian consumers in the world’s fastest growing economies be aware of when it comes to developing multi-channel strategies for Asian markets?

Guest Blog by Brendan O’Kane

Could a holiday shopping season in which big retailers stay open around the clock be somewhere in our near future? It may seem farfetched until we consider that Thanksgiving, once a day when almost all stores were closed and people stayed home with family, is in the process of becoming Black Thursday. Macy’s recently announced that, during the weekend before Christmas, it will stay open for 48 hours straight. It probably won’t be long before other leading large retailers follow suit, hoping for an even bigger slice of the year-end profit pie.

Guest Blog By Rikard Bandebo

Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping season with a bang, providing many retailers with an important consumer spending boost – despite the challenges faced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Many merchants attracted more customers by opening their doors on Thanksgiving and expanding their shipping and layaway options to simplify shopping. The First Data SpendTrend report is proprietary research that tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.  The 2012 Black Friday SpendTrend report compared Black Friday 2012 spending against 2011 numbers.

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