Consumer Confidential: Spending, Banana Republic, Apple TV
--We're shopping. Maybe not a whole lot, but we are shopping. Consumer spending rebounded in July as people bought more cars and other long-lasting items. Spending was up 0.8% over the month, the strongest increase in five months, following a revised 0.1% fall in June, according to the Commerce Department. July's boost was stronger than the 0.5% rise economists had expected. Adjusted for inflation, spending rose 0.5%. Consumption is a critical driver of U.S. economic growth, accounting for about two-thirds of gross domestic product, so July's rebound strikes a positive note for the beleaguered recovery -- that is, if we keep shopping through the second half of the year.
--How do you say "Banana Republic" in French? Gap Inc. plans to open its first Banana Republic store in France in early December. The clothing company, whose other brands include Old Navy and its namesake, says the store will be in Paris on the chic Avenue des Champs Elysees. Gap says the store is part of its international growth strategy. "With loyal customers across Europe, both in our stores and online, we are confident that Banana Republic's proposition of affordable luxury will resonate well with Parisian customers," said Stephen Sunnucks, president of Gap's international division. Last week, Gap also announced that it plans to open stores in Vietnam and Guam. Do they wear khakis in Guam?
--Is there an Apple TV in your future? The website VentureBeat reports that "Apple is almost certainly working on a digital television based on its iOS operating system, according to multiple sources in Silicon Valley." An Apple TV would allow people to do many things with their televisions they can't do now. The most important of these would probably be the ability to run Apple apps. This would permit consumers to download applications from Apple's store, which has hundreds of thousands of products. The Apple TV would allow people to switch from Facebook to Google to their calendars all on one device in the living room. The big question for me: Will you have to touch the screen to change channels?
-- David Lazarus
Photo: Gap Inc. says it will open a Banana Republic store in Paris. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press