America’s Most Productive Retailers In One Chart

Apple remains top of the heap in terms of sales per square foot, followed by Murphy USA, Tiffany & Co. and Michael Kors, according to new data from eMarketer.

retail.emarketer.com

Apple's retail game remains the best in the country, according to a new report from eMarketer.

The chain makes an average of $4,551 in sales per square foot, continuing to outpace high-end retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Lululemon. Surprisingly, it's followed by Murphy USA, a gas station and convenience store chain located near Walmart stores. Of note, Michael Kors stores are now more productive than Coach locations, reflecting the growing popularity of Kors purses.

The fastest-growing chains, as far as gross square footage, is a different list, topped by Deckers, the maker of Ugg boots. It's followed by Kate Spade, Vince and Natural Grocers.

Via retail.emarketer.com

Campus Debit Card Company Under Threat From Regulations And New Bill

Rules likely to be adopted by the Education Department could eliminate a large chunk of the Higher One’s revenues.

Shares of New Haven, Connecticut-based Higher One fell below $4 Friday as the higher education financial services company's prospects took another hit.

Two separate developments during the week look likely to severely crimp Higher One's marketing practices and the bulk of its revenue base. The first was the end of the Department of Education's “negotiated rulemaking” process, where a committee that included Higher One's chief operating officer Casey McGuane and consumer protection advocates that have been criticizing the company unsurprisingly failed to reach agreement on new rules governing the disbursement of financial aid. That means that the Education Department is now free to propose a final rule on its own, without direct input from the company, that is largely expected to impose stricter guidelines on disbursement practices.

“If that draft closely resembles the final rules, you're going to see a lot of changes with fees and marketing practices that would significantly impact [Higher One's] revenue and earnings,” Compass Point analyst Michael Tarkan told BuzzFeed.

Separately, House and Senate Democrats last night proposed a bill that would prohibit schools for giving a preference to a certain method of disbursing financial aid refunds, and ban revenue sharing agreements between companies and colleges to promote debit cards. The bill, sponsored by several powerful House and Senate Democrats, including George Miller, Elizabeth Warren, and Dick Durbin would also require companies to submit any agreements they have with banks to the CFPB.

The lawmakers that proposed the bill are also the very same ones that have encouraged the Department of Education to pursue new guidelines on its own.

The company's stock has fallen 64% in the last year, while an index of small-cap companies has risen 16%

The company's stock has fallen 64% in the last year, while an index of small-cap companies has risen 16%

Bloomberg

Higher One has been in turmoil for more than a year now and the government looks to clamp down on companies that disburse financial aid via debit cards and checking accounts provided to students. The company last month replaced its co-founder and CEO Mark Volchek with former JPMorgan Chase auto and student loan executive Marc Sheinbaum. Its stock price has plummeted 64% as the regulatory noose has tightened.

Higher One provides either payment processing or tuition refund services on over 1,900 campuses. The company's core business, disbursing financial aid via debit cards and checking accounts provided to students, accounts for more than 60% of its revenues. The Government Accountability Office said in a report issued earlier this year that 11% of colleges and universities can provide financial aid through prepaid or debit cards, and that those schools cover 40% of all college students. The GAO said that Higher One was the “dominant provider” in this market, with 57% market share in 2013.

McGuane, in a presentation to the Department of Education's rule-making committee earlier this month, said that the elimination of Higher One's standard 50 cent debit swipe fee, the pre-mailing of cards, and instituting some no-fee ATM withdrawals, “represent…significant changes in the underlying economics involved in offering accounts,” as well as “significant and complex operational changes.”

Higher One, because of McGuane's role on the negotiated rule-making committee, hasn't commented on the effects of the proposed rules. When asked if the company was planning for stricter rules, new CEO Sheinbaum said, “I think we're spending a lot of time on this topic.”

A Higher One representative said Friday was too early to say what effects the potential rules or the proposed bill would have on the company.

The company's stock has fallen from almost $11 to under $4

The company's stock has fallen from almost $11 to under $4

Bloomberg


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Interest rate ‘could settle at 3%’

The official UK interest rate could settle at an average of 3% in a few years, the outgoing deputy governor of the Bank of England Charlie Bean predicts.