The Weekly Consensus

The Weekly Consensus

Maeghan Thompson

Story of the Week

Spanish cosmetics group Puig seeks at least $2.7 bln in local IPO

Cosmetics group Puig, owner of brands such as Carolina Herrera, Rabanne and Charlotte Tilbury, announced plans to raise more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.71 billion) in Spain’s largest initial public offering in almost a decade. The family-owned company aims to sell 1.25 billion euros of new shares and an even larger amount of existing stock through the IPO, according to a deal term sheet seen by Reuters. It would be the biggest listing in Spain since airport operator AENA made its debut in February 2015. Puig said a public listing would align its corporate structure with that of other businesses in the premium beauty sector. “We believe that the balance of being a family-owned company that is also subject to market accountability will allow us to better compete in the international beauty market during the next phase of the company’s development,” Chairman and Chief Executive Marc Puig said in a statement.

Apparel & Footwear

Allbirds receives delisting warning from Nasdaq

Allbirds received a warning from the Nasdaq Stock Market last week notifying the brand that it is no longer in compliance with the market’s listing rules. Specifically, Allbirds’ share price fell below $1 for 30 consecutive days, according to a Monday press release. The retailer has until Sept. 30 to regain compliance, which would require 10 consecutive days of the footwear company’s stock trading at $1 or more. However, the release also noted that after the initial 180 day period, Allbirds might be eligible for an additional 180 days within which to regain compliance. It’s unclear what Allbirds current plan is to do so, but the retailer said it is weighing its options. The delisting warning comes less than a month after Allbirds replaced co-founder Joey Zwillinger as CEO, elevating then-Chief Operating Officer Joe Vernachio to the position. At the same time, the DTC brand said it would close 10 to 15 underperforming stores in the U.S. this year and that it expects revenue to be down as much as 25% in 2024.


Coach files trademark and unfair competition complaint against Gap

Coach has filed a trademark infringement complaint against Gap Inc. over the use of the word “coach” on various Old Navy brand products, according to a court filing last week. Attorneys for Coach say that the brand has “suffered substantial damages” as a result of the products and say that the Gap products “are likely to create a false impression and deceive consumers, the public, and the trade into believing that there is a connection or association between” the brands. The complaint also claims violation of unfair competition laws, and attorneys for the brand called Gap a competitor of Tapestry Inc.-owned Coach. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, centers on at least two Old Navy-branded shirts that have the word “Coach” written on them. Attorneys for Coach say the sale of the shirts was “an effort to exploit [Coach’s] goodwill and reputation,” by using coach trademarks. The complaint states that more products with the “Coach” word on it may exist and that they will seek those items in the discovery phase of the legal complaint. Tapestry is involved in a similar, ongoing case against Inland Empire Materials over the sale of alleged counterfeit Coach products, per court documents.


Billy Reid to Acquire Knot Standard, Take Over Operation of Its Eight Stores

Billy Reid is about to get a much bigger retail footprint. The designer’s parent company, Billy Reid Inc., has acquired the direct-to-consumer arm of AI-powered, made-to-measure company Knot Standard. Terms were not disclosed but Knot Standard will become a minority shareholder in the combined business that will operate under the Billy Reid name. Although the deal seems a bit unorthodox at first glance, drill down deeper and it makes more sense. As Jeff Zens, chief executive officer of Billy Reid, explained: “We had a made-to-measure business before COVID that was successful commercially, but it was operationally difficult and we shut it down. We were looking to get back in and was introduced to Knot Standard as a service adviser.” The two made a deal and Knot Standard is creating made-to-measure menswear at the Billy Reid store in Charleston, S.C. The plan is to roll out the service to about half of the fleet over the next several months. Billy Reid currently has 12 stores, including one that opened last month on Abbot Kinney in Venice, Calif. At the same time, Zens explained, in the back half of last year he was exploring options to raise capital to open stores and accelerate growth at the Billy Reid brand, and one of the potential investors was Provenance, a growth equity investment firm based in Los Angeles that had purchased a majority interest in Knot Standard in 2018. Billy Reid will take over the eight Knot Standard retail stores, as well as the company’s online business. Ready-to-wear will be added to all these stores for the first time.

Struggling UK fashion retailer Ted Baker to shut 15 stores, 250 jobs at risk

About 15 Ted Baker stores in the UK will be shut down, including shops in London Bridge and Milton Keynes, leading to nearly 250 job losses, joint administrators of the collapsed British fashion retailer said. Ted Baker, a popular brand name in the UK, fell into administration last month, after more than a year of being sold to U.S.-based Authentic Brands Group. Authentic Brands is looking for a new operating partner for the retail and e-commerce business in the UK and across Europe. No Ordinary Designer Label (NODL), which trades under Ted Baker’s brand in the UK, had appointed Teneo Financial Advisory as its administrator on March 22. The administrators said they decided to close 11 Ted Baker stores by April 19 and that would result in the loss of about 120 roles. Around 25 head office roles have also been made redundant. Separately, the administrators said prior to their involvement, landlords had also served notice on four more stores that will close in the coming weeks and result in a further 100 layoffs.



Athletic & Sporting Goods

Unrivaled Sports Acquires YTH Sports

Founded by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, with a significant strategic investment by The Chernin Group (TCG), Unrivaled Sports, overseer of a portfolio of youth sports properties and facilities, acquired YTH Sports, the operators of Soccer Youth, a nationwide event series celebrating young athletes.  With the acquisition of YTH Sports, Unrivaled Sports reported that “it expects to welcome nearly 600,000 athletes and 1.2 million attendees in 2024 through its 13 owned and operated properties, including Ripken Baseball facilities, Cooperstown All-Star Village, Baseball Factory, Softball Factory, We Are Camp, and the ForeverLawn Sports Complex at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village.” Announces Acquisition of Universal Lacrosse

In one of the most substantial lacrosse industry business deals in recent years, has acquired Universal Lacrosse, both businesses announced., which previously did not have a significant brick-and-mortar presence, adds Universal’s 10 doors to its portfolio.  The acquisition makes the largest e-commerce ( and and team dealer dedicated strictly to the sport of lacrosse.

Cosmetics & Pharmacy

Jessica Alba Steps Down from Honest Co Role

Jessica Alba has stepped down from her role as Chief Creative Officer at Honest Company in order to ‘shift her creative energy to new endeavors’. The actor founded the personal care brand in 2012 and will retain a seat on the board. No details have emerged of Alba’s future plans. The clean personal care brand reported record quarterly sales and profits for the fourth quarter of 2023. Said Chief Executive Officer Carla Vernón. “I offer our deep appreciation on behalf of the management team, our board of directors and generations of Honest employees for Jessica’s leadership through the years. I am pleased Jessica will remain an advisor in her role as a member of our board of directors. And, as she shifts her focus to exciting new ventures, we will be cheering her on.”

Kiki World Has Gained Investment From The Estée Lauder Cos.’ Early Investment Arm

Kiki World, a beauty brand that wants to cocreate products with its consumers, has raised a $7 million funding round led by The Estée Lauder Cos.’ early investment and incubation arm, New Incubation Ventures, and a16z crypto. Kiki World launched in May 2023 with $29 peel-off nail polish called Pretty Nail Graffiti, cocreated by its community. Since then, it has added Skin Development Kit — a skin care line where customers can vote on the key ingredients and launch order.


Discounters & Department Stores

Macy’s shakes up board, avoids proxy fight

Macy’s Inc. has added two people to its board who had been nominated by Arkhouse Management, which recently joined with Brigade Capital in offering $6.6 billion to acquire the department store. Richard Clark and Rick Markee will serve on the finance committee, which will review the proposal and any alternatives and advise the full board, according to Macy’s and Arkhouse. Clark and Markee were among nine nominees put forward by Arkhouse in February, setting the stage for a proxy fight. That slate has been withdrawn, Macy’s said in a press release. After rebuffing an earlier offer and refusing to provide Arkhouse and Brigade with financial information, Macy’s board is now engaging with the firms, including granting access to confidential due diligence information, according to Macy’s and Arkhouse.

Nordstrom taps company veteran to lead Rack merchandising

Longtime Nordstrom merchant Lori Marten has been named executive vice president and general merchandising manager of the retailer’s Rack business, the company said by email. She has been at Nordstrom for nearly 30 years, serving in various merchandising roles. Most recently she was senior vice president and divisional merchandise manager of Nordstrom’s men’s and women’s specialized, active and performance outerwear categories. Marten starts her new position April 21, reporting to Gemma Lionello, who has been Rack president since September. Marten’s appointment follows the departure last month of Nancy Mair, who was senior vice president of Rack merchandising for two years.

99 Cents Only files for Chapter 11

Just days after announcing it would liquidate, 99 Cents Only Stores on Sunday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware. The retailer’s parent company, Number Holdings, said the bankruptcy process will enable the company to implement the wind-down of its business operations. The company listed assets and liabilities ranging from $1 billion to $10 billion. The company’s top 10 creditors are collectively owed just under $35 million, according to court documents. 99 Cents Only said it has secured $60.8 million in debtor-in-possession financing, subject to court approval, to facilitate the wind-down process. Going-out-of-business sales have begun at all 371 of the company’s stores.

Costco selling as much as $200 million in gold bars monthly, Wells Fargo estimates

Gold has turned into money for Costco, where yellow metal sales begun last year have turned into a cash cow for the big-box retailer. In fact, sales are so brisk that analysts at Wells Fargo expect revenue “may now be running at” $100 million to $200 million a month, a rapid acceleration since bullion hit the warehouse club late in the summer of 2023. “Our work suggests there has been significant interest given COST’s aggressive pricing and high level of customer trust,” Edward Kelly, an equity analyst at the bank, said in a note to clients Tuesday. “The accelerating frequency of Reddit posts, quick on-line sell-outs of product, and COST’s robust monthly eComm sales suggests a sharp uptick in momentum since the launch.” If Kelly’s assessment is correct, that would represent quite a move for a product that only debuted last August and generated about $100 million in sales in Costco’s fiscal first quarter that ended in late November 2023. Costco is selling 1-ounce bars made of nearly pure 24-karat gold. While the price is not disclosed online to nonmembers, it’s estimated that the product generally sells for about 2% above the spot price, which as of Tuesday morning was around $2,357 an ounce. That would put the price at Costco just more than $2,400.



Emerging Consumer Companies

OpenStore acquires vegan supplement brand Future Kind to expand product offerings and customer base

OpenStore, a Miami-based tech company that acquires and scales e-commerce businesses, has purchased Future Kind, a vegan supplement brand. OpenStore, co-founded by Keith Rabois and Atomic’s Jack Abraham, uses proprietary technology to identify, acquire, and grow e-commerce brands. Future Kind is a vegan supplement brand known for its essential multivitamin, which is specifically formulated for vegans and vegetarians. The brand’s products are ethically sourced and environmentally friendly, and they aim to fill the nutritional gaps often experienced by those following a plant-based diet. The acquisition by OpenStore will enable Future Kind to leverage the tech company’s resources and expertise to scale its operations and reach a wider audience.


Onego Bio Raises $40M to Commercialize “Revolutionary” Animal-Free Egg Protein

US-Finnish biotech company Onego Bio has raised $40 million in one of the largest Series A rounds in the Nordics. The funding will be used to drive the commercialization and manufacturing of the company’s animal-free egg protein, which is produced using precision fermentation. The round was led by NordicNinja, with participation from Tesi, EIT Food, Agronomics, and more. It also includes $10 million in non-dilutive funding from the Finnish government association Business Finland. Previously, Onego Bio raised €10 million in seed funding in 2022, after being founded as a spinoff from VTT (the Technical Research Center of Finland).



Food & Beverage

Vandemoortele acquires majority stake in Banneton Bakery

Vandemoortele, a family-owned European food company that manufactures and sells baked foods across the United States and 12 European countries, has acquired a majority stake in Banneton Bakery. Founded in 2008, Banneton makes and sells freezer-to-oven croissants, Danishes and pastries throughout the United States. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Victor and Alex Litinetsky, founders of Banneton, will continue investing in capital and lead day-to-day management of the company. Banneton also is owned by Encore Consumer Capital, a private equity investment firm focused on food and beverage companies that co-owns Banneton amongst more than 38 other companies in the consumer products sector.

Hain Celestial sells Thinsters cookie brand to Dippin’ Dots owner

Hain Celestial sold its Thinsters cookie business to frozen Icee beverage owner J&J Snack Foods for an undisclosed price. The all-cash transaction, which closed on April 8th, allows Hain to streamline its operations to focus on its most important brands and core areas of its business. The organic and natural products manufacturer will use the money to pay down debt. “We actually felt very good about J&J as the most attractive [among potential buyers] but also the best place for the future of the Thinsters brand,” Wendy Davidson, president and CEO of Hain Celestial, said in an interview. “It was noncore in our better-for-you snacks.”

Full Glass Wine snaps up D2C wine platform Bright Cellars

Full Glass Wine Co. has added to its direct-to-consumer wine operations with the acquisition of US peer Bright Cellars. The California-based business announced the deal alongside news it had closed a Series A funding round worth $14m. In a statement, Full Glass Wine said the purchase of Bright Cellars and its funding highlights its “commitment to become the dominant player in the evolving D2C wine market”. Neha Kumar, the co-founder and COO of Full Glass Wine, said: “This Series A funding and the acquisition of Bright Cellars are significant milestones for our growth, putting us on track for a projected $100 million-plus revenue run-rate in 2024.” The Series A funding round was led by Shea Ventures, the corporate venture arm of J.F. Shea Company.

Conagra Brands to close Wisconsin Birds Eye plant and lay off 252 people

Conagra Brands is closing a facility in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin that produces its Birds Eye frozen brand. The Illinois-based CPG giant said 252 people will lose their jobs. Production at the plant is expected to end on or around June 10. In a statement, Conagra said it will offer severance benefits to employees. “We continually evaluate our overall network of food production facilities to ensure that we are operating as effectively and efficiently as possible so we can remain competitive as a company,” the statement said. “We have determined that we can continue to meet the needs of the business by making these products in fewer facilities.” In addition to Birds Eye, Conagra produces Marie Callender’s and Healthy Choice frozen meals as well as Slim Jim meat snacks and Orville Redenbacher popcorn.



Grocery & Restaurants

The Franchise Industry is on The Verge of Massive Change With Private Equity’s Potential $8 Billion Acquisition of Jersey Mike’s

Private equity has successfully cherry-picked most top franchise brands with enough scale to attract professional investors. Jersey Mike’s and Subway are two high-profile holdouts. Last year, Subway announced it would be acquired by Roark Capital for an expected $9.5 billion, but the deal still hasn’t closed and has attracted Federal Trade Commission scrutiny. Rumors are now swirling that Jersey Mike’s is also considering a sale to PE firm Blackstone for a possible $8 billion. Could Jersey Mike’s sell?

Buffalo Wild Wings Go format grows as more sales move off premise

Buffalo Wild Wings opened its 100th Go location on Wednesday in New York City, four years after unveiling the quick-service offshoot of its sports bar chain. BWW Go sells the chain’s famous chicken wings and other classic menu items, but its locations are smaller and limited to delivery and takeout orders. For the sports bar chain, it’s a way to make its brand even more ubiquitous, while offering customers more convenience. BWW is the second-largest U.S. casual-dining chain in the bar and grill category with a market share of 14.4%, trailing only Dine Brands’ Applebee’s, according to Barclays research. It’s carved out a chicken wing dominance among its closest competitors, serving more than 3 million gallons of ranch and blue cheese dressing in 2023. But the casual-dining segment has struggled, with publicly traded rivals like Chili’s and Red Robin perpetually stuck in turnaround mode.

Home & Road

Lovesac eclipses $700 million mark in FY24

Despite unfavorable conditions prevalent in the furniture industry, Top 100 retailer Lovesac continued posting profits in the fourth quarter and full year of fiscal 2024.

“Lovesac delivered market leading fiscal fourth quarter and full year 2024 sales performances. We surpassed $700 million in revenues for the fiscal year, representing a net sales increase of $49.1 million, or 7.5%, despite another year of significant category decline for the home furnishing sector,” said Shawn Nelson, CEO. “Interest in – and passion for – the Lovesac brand, from new and existing customers alike, continues to grow.”

Badcock addition gives Conn’s earnings a boost in Q4

The fourth quarter earnings report for Top 100 retailer Conn’s HomePlus included about six weeks’ worth of business gained from the company’s addition of the W.S. Badcock Corp. That deal, which closed Dec. 18, 2023, contributed $68.4 million to consolidated revenue in the quarter ended Jan. 31, which helped The Woodlands, Texas-based retailer reach $366.1 million in total revenues. That figure was up 9.32% vs. the same three-month span in the previous year. Net income for the quarter totaled $43.301 million, or $1.75 per diluted share, which reversed a loss of $42.803 million, or $1.79 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of FY2023. Conn’s President and CEO Norm Miller said synergies between the companies were apparent before the transaction, and they started to show during the quarter.

Hooker Furnishings’ income up for Q1 and fiscal year

Despite difficult business conditions, Hooker Furnishings reported an increase in operating income, net income and earnings per share for the fiscal year ended Jan. 28. The company saw a sales decrease for the fourth quarter (down 26.3%) and for the year (down 25.7%), but still showed profitability gains, attributed primarily to the absence of a $24.4 million inventory write-down at HMI recorded in the previous year’s fourth quarter. Sales for the quarter were $96.8 million and for the year, $433.2 million. Meanwhile, operating income moved into the black at $340,000 for the quarter and $12.4 million for the year, 101.4% and 304.4% increases, respectively. Net income came in at $593,000 for the quarter, up from a loss of $17.9 million in the year-ago quarter, and at $9.9 million for the year, compared with a loss of $4.3 million last year.

Jewelry & Luxury

Rolex CEO Thinks 2024 Will Be “a Challenge”

2024 will be “a challenge” for the Swiss watch industry, Rolex CEO Jean-Frédéric Dufour told Swiss newspaper NZZ in a rare interview. “A phase in which all manufacturers were doing well is coming to an end,” he said. “In good times, too much is often produced. When the markets weaken, as is the case now, watch dealers come under pressure and respond with discounts. This is extremely problematic because discounts damage emotional products like ours.” Dufour said several factors presented issues for the industry, particularly the high price of gold. “A kilo of gold currently costs almost 66,000 [Swiss] francs,” he said. “Thirty years ago, when I started in the watch industry, it was still 18,000 francs. Of course this makes the watches more expensive. The increased interest rates are also affecting people’s spending mood, and the geopolitical situation isn’t helping either.”

Gen Z Watch Fans Ready to Splurge, Study Finds

Prodded by TikTok “watchfluencers,” Gen Z timepiece collectors could spend even more on luxury watches than older generations, according to a new report commissioned by online marketplace Watchfinder. Findings come from a survey of more than 2,400 people age 18 to 26 years old in the U.S. who wear, have bought, or have shown interest in watches. “Luxury watch” was defined as one with a price tag of at least $1,300. The report says that Gen Zers plan to spend an average of $10,870.40 on their next luxury watch purchase. That’s more than double what millennials ($5,325.23) and Gen Xers ($5,423.87) expect to spend, and more than quadruple the average purchase by baby boomers ($2,632.28).

Luxury Brands Spend Billions for High-End Shopping Real Estate

Luxury brands like Gucci are reportedly spending billions to stay at high-profile addresses. As The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Saturday, these companies are worried that if they don’t snatch up their flagship stores, one of their competitors will purchase the property and evict them. Last week saw Kering, which owns Gucci and Saint Laurent, pay $1.4 billion for a building on Via Montenapoleone in Milan, considered one of Europe’s “most expensive shopping streets,” the WSJ report said. This purchase followed the nearly $1 billion Kering spent on a property on Fifth Avenue in New York City in January. Meanwhile, luxury brands in Europe have paid more than $9 billion to buy boutiques on the world’s top shopping locations since the beginning of 2023, the report said. Retailers, the report said, are taking advantage of rare properties becoming available due to a downturn in commercial real estate. For example, Kering bought a store on Fifth Avenue from real estate investor Wharton Properties which had been threatened with foreclosure. The trend is happening as retailers are looking to high-end apparel and accessories to win over the biggest earners, as PYMNTS wrote last month.


Office & Leisure

Petco faces downgrades amid sales, profit and share declines

Petco is facing investment and credit downgrades as some analysts see ongoing market share loss, with sales and profits remaining under pressure for the rest of the year or longer. S&P Global Ratings last week downgraded the pet retailer’s issuer credit rating to B from B+ and term loan B issue-level rating from B+ to B; their recovery rating on its term loan is unchanged. The move reflects the analysts’ “expectation that Petco’s profitability will remain pressured over the next 12 months” and that continued comp declines will weaken profits and cash flow over the next few quarters. Also last week, Bank of America Securities Research Analyst Kendall Toscano lowered Petco’s share price target to $1.50 from $5, saying that “Its market share has eroded meaningfully” in the last nine years and that its sales and margin declines will likely continue into 2025. Over the holidays this year, a lot of pets in the U.S. enjoyed treats and gifts, befitting their elevated place as members of the family. Pet retailers had been enjoying a boost as many people stuck at home during the height of the pandemic brought home new pets who needed supplies. But in the last year, new-pet ownership has returned to normal, and sales of such one-off consumables as crates, leashes and toys have fallen off, according to S&P Global Ratings analysts Ilwaad Aman and Diogenes Mejia. In the meantime, competition in the space has heated up.

Mattel launches new, less ‘intimidating’ version of Scrabble

Scrabble, one of the world’s best-loved word games, is to get a new “collaborative” and “accessible” version. The game has been around for more than 75 years, entertaining and infuriating players in equal measure with the simple premise of competing to see who can make the highest scoring words from a random selection of letters. Now, an updated game named Scrabble Together adds “a second side to the board that is collaborative and faster-paced to make gameplay more accessible for anyone who finds word games intimidating,” according to a statement from Mattel published Tuesday. Instead of competing, players collaborate to complete goal cards, and there are helper cards if assistance is required. The aim is that the new game mode “brings people together,” Ray Adler, Global Head of Games at the company, said in the statement. Mattel said it conducted research among British board-gamers that shows that competitiveness is perceived as declining in younger generations. Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 35% believed baby boomers are the most competitive, followed by millennials on 31% and Gen-Z on 29%.

Technology & Internet

Dude Perfect YouTube channel scores multimillion-dollar investment

Popular YouTube group Dude Perfect, which first rose to popularity for its basketball trick shots, has secured a significant nine-figure investment, in the range of $100 million to $300 million, from private investment firm Highmount Capital. The investment will support Dude Perfect’s exploration of new strategic opportunities and expansion beyond the creator economy. The Dude Perfect YouTube channel has over 60 million subscribers with over 17 billion views. It’s the 35th most-subscribed channel, according to data from Social Blade. Dude Perfect is more than just a YouTube channel. With a team of 25 employees based in their headquarters in Frisco, Texas, they have secured various brand partnerships, including their own smoothie at Smoothie King, a line of Nerf products, and even their own board game. “Whether it’s toys, or food and beverage or whatever, it’s really just letting families bond with you and with each other,” said Highmount Capital co-founder Jason Illian. “They built such a tremendous business now that we want to run in parallel with those and let those grow even faster.” The team’s future has been dubbed “Dude Perfect 2.0” and consists of plans to open a retail store, to launch a streaming platform, introduce a line of toys and games in Walmart, and even envisions a $100 million theme park.


Apple made $14 billion worth of iPhones in India in shift from China

Apple produced $14 billion worth of iPhones in India over the last fiscal year, a sign of the company’s continued effort to manufacture more devices outside of China, a report from Bloomberg said Wednesday. As relations between the U.S. and China have soured, Apple has worked to diversify its supply chain by expanding production in countries like Vietnam and India. It’s a big shift for the iPhone maker, which has historically relied on China for manufacturing. Apple now makes around 1 in 7, or 14%, of its iPhones in India, twice the amount it produced there last year, the report said. The manufacturer Pegatron assembled around 17% of those iPhones, while Foxconn produced around 67%, according to the report. China remains a crucial market for Apple, but sales have been off to a rocky start this year. A Counterpoint Research report from March found that iPhone sales in China dropped 24% in the first six weeks of 2024. The firm said Apple faces significant competition from other smartphone vendors like Huawei.


Finance & Economy

Consumer prices rose 3.5% from a year ago in March, more than expected

The consumer price index accelerated at a faster-than-expected pace in March, pushing inflation higher and likely dashing hopes that the Federal Reserve will be able to cut interest rates anytime soon.  The CPI, a broad measure of goods and services costs across the economy, rose 0.4% for the month, putting the 12-month inflation rate at 3.5%, or 0.3 percentage point higher than in February, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a 0.3% gain and a 3.4% year-over-year level.  Shelter and energy costs drove the increase on the all-items index.

Consumer confidence up in March

Consumer confidence continued to tick upward in March, with several metrics improving, according to the Numerator Consumer Sentiment tracker.  The strengthening confidence was driven by increased comfort in the job market, with non-essential spending, and with consumers’ ability to make ends meet, the report noted.   The February Consumer Confidence Score was 57.3, up 1.6 points from the previous month. The figure represents how consumers feel about household finances, the job market, and their spending comfort levels.  The report added that two out of five respondents said it’s very or somewhat easy to find a job in the current market, and nearly half (49%) believe their financial situation is good or very good, up 2% from the previous month.