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Retail Roundup: Back-to-school season, EBay acquires Zong, consumer electronics shopping decisions

-- Retailers are ready for the all-important back-to-school season, which kicks off this month and is the second-largest sales drive of the year, accounting for 16% of the retail industry's annual sales. The International Council of Shopping Centers is forecasting a modest but healthy increase of 3% to $39 billion in sales for the three-month period.

-- EBay announced that it has agreed to acquire Zong, a provider of payments through mobile carrier billing, for about $240 million in cash. Zong allows shoppers to pay for purchases from their mobile phones or computers by simply entering their mobile phone numbers. Once Zong verifies the number (usually in a matter of seconds), the payment is cleared on the customer's existing wireless service account. 

-- When it comes to shopping decisions, men and women both rank brand familiarity as the most important reason they make a consumer electronics purchase, according to a new report from market research firm NPD Group. In the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, women prioritize electronics that work well with what they own already and have the features and benefits they want, while men like gadgets that are growing in popularity and offer "real solutions."

-- Andrea Chang

 
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