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Tablets Among Top 5 Father’s Day Faves

Wanna make Dad happy on Father’s Day? Give him a tablet.

Or a vacation. Or tickets to a sporting event.

The latter two were actually the top choices of dads polled by Ebates, the cash-back online shopping service and Rakuten subsidiary, which were cited by 32 and 31 percent of fathers, respectively.

But when it comes to tech items, tablets are king in his castle, tying with power tools as a third-place choice at 28 percent each.

Coming in fifth at 26 percent was watches, although Ebates didn’t distinguish between the smart or traditional kind, and sixth place went to beer (25 percent).

What not to buy dad? A gym membership, for which 92 percent of fathers queried said anything but.

The poll also found that fathers get the short end of the stick when it comes to gift spend. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they plan to spend between a buck and $50 on Father’s Day, compared with 30 percent who spent $51 to $100 last month on Mom.

Staples CEO Ron Sargent Stepping Down

Staples chairman Ron Sargent will relinquish his CEO post following the company’s shareholders meeting on June 14, when he will be succeeded on an interim basis by North American operations president Shira Goodman.

The move, described as mutually agreed upon by Sargent and Staples’ board of directors, follows the chain’s failure to close its planned $6.3 billion acquisition of No. 2 rival Office Depot.

That deal was derailed last month after a U.S. district court judge granted the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) request for a preliminary injunction to block the sale.

“With the termination of the merger, we mutually agreed that now is the right time to transition to new management to lead Staples through its next phase of growth,” the board said in a statement, citing Goodman’s “fresh perspective.”

Sargent’s interim successor is a 23-year veteran of the company who variously ran Staples’ supply chain, customer service and B-to-B operations in North America. In her current role she’s responsible for commercial, retail and online operations in the U.S. and Canada.

The board, working with an executive search firm, said it will consider internal and external candidates for the permanent CEO spot.

In the meantime, Goodman said she plans to drive sales by “intensifying our focus on our best growth opportunities with mid-market business customers in North America and in key categories beyond office supplies.”

Women Drain Cellphone Batteries Faster Than Men

Women in the U.S. use their smartphones more than men, and premium-phone owners use their devices more than owners of entry-level phones, causing them to drain their smartphone batteries faster than other users, Strategy Analytics found.

Females experience higher battery drain than males across all tiers of phones, the research company added.

Only owners of entry-tier devices get a full day’s worth of charge, while users of premium and midtier phones run out of juice in less than a day, the company said.

Among U.S. Android phone users, female users of entry-level phones drain their battery on average in 24.5 hours, while men coax 25.8 hours out of their phones. Among owners of midtier devices, women get 19.9 hours of battery life, and men get 23 hours. Among premium-tier owners, women get only 18.9 hours of use, and men get 20.9 hours.

Almost Half Of Households To Have 4K TV In 4 Years

North American household penetration of 4K Ultra HD TVs will jump from 5 percent in 2015 to 48 percent in 2020, driven by U.S. consumers’ appetites for big-screen TVs, availability at more affordable price points, and shrinking selections of 1080p TVs, Strategy Analytics forecasts.

By the end of 2016, more than 11 million homes will own at least one 4K TV, the research company said.

“[The] North American appetite for very-large-screen TVs has been a key factor in the rapid uptake of Ultra HD TVs across the region,” the company reported. More than 80 percent of all Ultra HD TV shipments in 2015 featured 50-inch or larger displays, and although that share will fall as 4K filters down into smaller screen sizes, 50-inch and larger TVs will still account for more than 50 percent of Ultra HD TV demand by 2020, the company continued.

Also by 2020, all 40-inch or larger TVs being sold in North America will be 4K models.

Mobile Data Usage Will Explode In Next 5 Years

Think your cellular plan has enough data? Think again.

Video usage will drive average data consumption of smartphones in North America to 22GB/month in 2021 from 2015’s 3.7GB, and the number of IoT devices will surpass mobile phones in 2018 as the largest category of connected devices, telecom-infrastructure maker Ericsson said in its latest mobility report.

The study also found that consumers worldwide are watching less TV and more smartphone video. The rise of smartphone video is also cutting into time spend viewing video on such devices as PCs and laptops, Ericsson also found.

The drop in video watching on devices other than smartphones is most pronounced among teens, and from 2011 to 2015, teens spent 50 percent less time watching TV while increasing their video watching on a smartphone by 85 percent.

The number of IoT devices will almost double worldwide from 15 billion in 2015 to 28 billion in 2021, with cellular IoT devices growing from 0.4 billion to 1.5 billion and non-cellular IoT devices jumping from 4.2 billion to 14.2 billion.

Conn’s Credit Biz Takes First-Quarter Toll

Continuing challenges within its in-house credit unit led Conn’s into the red last quarter.

The company reported a net loss of $9.7 million for its fiscal first quarter, compared to year-ago profits of $15.7 million.

The red ink flowed from the chain’s customer credit operation, where rising delinquency rates and higher bad-debt provisions led to a $21 million operating loss, compared to an $8.5 million operating loss last year.

The credit crisis also led to last year’s ouster of former chairman, president and CEO Theo Wright. To help staunch the bleeding, his successor, Norm Miller, has brought in a new finance team.

Broken out by category, CE comps fell 14.2 percent; majap comps declined 3.9 percent; and home office comps slipped 3.8 percent.

The quarter’s only comp-sale gains were in furniture and mattresses (up 3.8 percent), and revenue from service contract commissions (up 0.9 percent).

Looking ahead, Conn’s plans to open 10 to 12 stores during the current fiscal year and is projecting comp declines in the mid-to low-single digits, due to stricter credit standards.

“Our long-term outlook and market opportunity remain intact,” Miller noted, “and we believe the actions we are taking to improve our credit results will significantly increase profitability in fiscal 2018 and beyond.”

Reporting by Alan Wolf and Joseph Palenchar.


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