As the holiday season slowly winds down — or comes to a screeching halt depending on how long you waited to shop — it is interesting to consider how one retailer gains the edge over another. The answer, it turns out, might boil down to emotions. At least according to New Media Metrics, an analytical marketing firm that quantitatively measures consumer’s emotional attachment to over 350 brands and compiles a list called the Leap Index — which stands for “Leveraging Emotional Attachment for Profit.” This year, according to Forbes, the top ten Leap brands are: Amazon.com Victoria’s Secret Wal-Mart Target GameStop H&M Best Buy Abercrombie and Fitch Kohl’s Macy’s The strategic marketing firm also has statistics to back up their list. They use independent study data to claim that a customer is 40% more likely to pay attention to media they have a strong attachment to. The company also touts that brand attachment makes a person 2.5 times more likely to pay attention to an

President Obama announced today that he would not agree to any budget deal that does not include tax increases for household earning over $250,000 a year. With just six weeks left until the new year, lawmakers in Washington are poised for a  fierce battle over spending and taxes. If they are unable to reach an agreement, $300 billion in tax cut expirations and $100 billion in federal spending cuts will take effect on January 1. Despite  a great deal of talk from both parties about bipartisanship, neither side seems prepared to back down.  Republican leaders argue that tax hikes will discourage business owners from hiring new employees and prevent investors from financing new businesses. Democrats are united in favor of allowing the wealthy to be taxed at the rates that were in place during the 1990s. Meanwhile, many small business owners are withholding capital outlays until a budget deal is reached. In a recent poll of small business owners, the National Federation of Independent business found

The National Federation of Independent Business released the results of its Small Business Optimism Index survey for the month of October. The Index rose from 92.8 in September to 93.1 last month, as slightly more businesses projected increased sales. However, the increase in small business confidence remained negligible, and did not indicate a significant change in the outlook of small business owners. The survey was completed a week before last week’s presidential election, while business projections were still fraught with uncertainty about the outcome of the race. Aside from sales projections,  other keys metrics remained virtually changed from September. 22 percent of respondents reported plans to make capital investments in the next three to six months, up from 21 percent in September. Four percent reported plans to create new jobs, the same as as September.

Amazon.com has launched a new program called Amazon Lending offering loans to online sellers. Although the program has not been announced publicly, retailers in Amazon’s marketplace have reportedly received e-mails with offers for financing from Amazon Capital Services, Inc., a new division of the company. The new merchant financing program targets online sellers  who do not have enough up-front cash to purchase inventory to be sold on Amazon’s marketplace. Amazon Lending provides loans to participating sellers and collects repayment by taking a portion of their sales revenues. Amazon is pre-qualifying certain marketplace sellers based on their sales, and is reportedly lending up to $800,000 to some merchants. Funds can be used to purchase additional inventory. Payments are automatically deducted from merchants’ accounts on a monthly basis. Like other funding providers, including direct lenders like Horizon, Amazon is stepping in to fill the demand for loans left by banks that have curtailed lending in the years following the financial crisis. By increasing the availability of financing, Amazon

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation released its September 2012 Monthly Confidence Index for the equipment finance industry. The report showed that confidence rated 53.0 on the index, up from 50.2 during August. These numbers reflect an increasing willingness on the part of business owners to invest in expanding their business by purchasing new equipment. 8.8 percent of participants in the survey reported that the expected business conditions to improve over the next four months, compared to 6.3 percent in August. 76.5 percent believe the economy will remain the same during the coming months, while 11.8 percent reported that they expected conditions to worsen. Despite this increased optimism, fewer business owners reported plans to hire new employees. Significantly, the number of respondents who expected to increase business development investments increase to 29.4% from 15.6% in August.

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