Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

“These companies make me feel secure”

Worried about the safety of your personal information? On second thought, maybe you’re not — if you shop with your American Express card, surf eBay or use an IBM system.
 
Those three companies are consumers’ picks for the top most trusted when it comes to protecting their customers’ privacy, according to a survey by TRUSTe, a consumer privacy protection organization, and the Ponemon Institute, an independent research group. 
 
Consumers reported that identity theft is the No. 1 factor influencing their view of how companies handle privacy concerns, with only 45 percent of respondents saying they felt they had control over how their personal information was used or shared. That’s down from 56 percent two years ago.
    
The worries over data security are real — companies from discount retailer TJX Cos to Bank of New York Mellon Corp have had major data breaches compromising the personal information of millions of consumers.
    
The top ten list is rounded out by Amazon.com, Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. Postal Service (which shares the No. 6 spot with Hewlett Packard), Procter & Gamble, Apple, Nationwide, and Charles Schwab.
    
The survey, now in its fifth year, polled nearly 6,500 U.S. adults to determine their view of the most trustworthy companies and brands when it comes to protecting personal information.
    
Companies including Disney, AOL and Dell made it to the top 20 list, with Yahoo, FedEx, Facebook and Verizon joining that group for the first time since 2004, when the Ponemon Institute began conducting research on the topic. It was also the first time for Apple, at No 8.

Google, whose growing dominance of the search market has prompted questions over how it uses its data, found itself ousted from the Top 20 list this year, as were Countrywide and Bank of America.

Consumer goods makers try to offset the fuel cost pinch

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While products ranging from cereal to tissues cost more these days, more than a third of food and household product makers have not been able to recoup higher fuel costs by raising prices, according to survey data released this week.

Manufacturers have been raising prices to offset higher costs stemming from the rise in fuel prices and the impact on raw materials and transportation.  According to a survey of consumer goods executives at the Grocery Manufacturers Association‘s Fuel Roundtable on Oct. 7, those price hikes are often not enough.

Sears to offer virtual dressing room

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Sears, Roebuck, looking to engage shoppers in new ways, is embracing a 3-D Web technology that will allow shoppers to try on clothes virtually from its Web site in an effort to replicate the in-store dressing room experience.

sears1.jpgThe retailer this week said it is partnering with IBM and My Virtual Model , a Montreal creator of virtual identity products, to revamp its Sears.com site so that consumers can search for clothing items by clicking on images and try on garments virtually.

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