Robot vacuum cleaner converts messes into fuel
Industrial designer Elliot Cohen debuted the robot vacuum cleaner he created for U.S. cleaning company Casabella’s 25th anniversary at this year’s International Home + Housewares Show. The machine uses a "microbial electrolysis" system as a power source, generating energy from the bacteria it sucks up while operating. Gizmodo Australia
Nostalgia Electrics introduces two new frozen treats machines
Nostalgia Electrics has unveiled two new frozen treat making machines. The FFT100 Fro-Frutti Frozen Fruit Dessert Maker turns frozen fruits into tasty sorbets, while the MTC100 Mix 'N Twist Ice Cream and Toppings Mixer can turn ice cream into soft serve with the user’s choice of mix-ins. CNET
Fred's reports 2012 results
Fred’s Inc. is reporting a 1.1% advance in comparable store sales for 2012 and an overall net income of $29.6 million down from $33.4 million the year prior. "The fourth quarter brought to a close a challenging year in 2012 as our customers remained under economic pressures and our operating costs trended higher than forecast," said CEO Bruce Efird. HomeWorld Business
Coldest March in 17 years shifts shopping patterns
Demand for shorts and sandals fell sharply in the last week of March, compared to the same month last year, as colder-than-average days had consumers putting off warm-weather purchases. The cold weather leading into Easter proved positive for some retail sectors, including dollar stores and drug stores that benefited from rising demand for cold and flu remedies. CNBC
Teen apparel chains face stiffer competition
The cold weather is not the biggest issue mall-based teen apparel chains, including Aeropostale, Wet Seal and Delia's, are facing this year. Enclosed mall traffic was down 1.1% last year from 2011, according to ShopperTrak, and competition for shoppers is on the rise from trendy international brands including Uniqlo and H&M. Crain's New York Business
China's factory output surges to 11-month high, data say
China's manufacturing activity accelerated to an 11-month high last month, according to the official purchasing managers' index, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said. The index reached 50.9, up from February's 50.1. Anything above 50 indicates expansion. Bloomberg
Missed a Show seminar? Listen to it online
If you missed one of the Innovation Theater programs during the International Home + Housewares Show, you can listen to it online or download the MP3 file. Eighteen programs from the four days are available. Listen now.
IHA offers specialty retailer consulting
IHA's Gourmet Home is offering specialty and independent retailers free, confidential online consulting, an expansion of the consulting sessions offered at the International Home + Housewares Show. Experts on Call is available on housewares.org. E-mail your question confidentially and receive an answer within 2 to 3 days. Experts include Linda Cahan, author and contributing editor, Gifts & Decorative Accessories, on creating a store image that will attract, sell and retain customers; Catherine Yen, business financial consultant, on the business of running a retail operation; and Ed Taylor, Internet marketing consultant and author, on websites, e-commerce and social media. Sign up today.
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