SEATTLE, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Barbie “Fashionista” dolls, Nerf
Blasters and the Beatles Rock Band video game are among the
toys expected to fly off store shelves this holiday season as
price remains king.
The 2009 “hot toys” list, released on Thursday, adhered to
last year’s pattern, with a majority of toys priced under $100.
The list — monitored closely by industry executives and
analysts — underscores how even indulgent parents continue to
save money despite an economy showing signs of recovery.
Check Out this slightly more optimistic holiday sales forecast.The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) said the 2009 U.S. holiday season is likely to be “a lot better” than last year, with sales rising roughly 1 to 2 percent.The forecast, perhaps the most bullish yet, comes after a dismal 2008 holiday season that by some accounts was the worst in about 40 years.Forecasts issued so far this year call for holiday sales to be flat to down versus last year, but some of those surveys use different methods for estimating sales.The ICSC said holiday sales “in its many forms” — same store sales or total sales — could increase by about 1 percent to 2 percent, with sales at stores open at least one year rising 1 percent for the holiday shopping season of November and December.Also in the basket:Asian convenience stores ride the recoveryZumiez raises Q3 earnings outlookH&M signs Rykiel in latest high end ventureGap co-founder Donald Fisher dead at 81(Photo/Reuters)
Check Out eBay’s steps toward becoming more environmentally friendly.The online auctioneer announced its first greenhouse gas emissions reduction target on Monday, saying it has committed to a 15-percent cut to its corporate emissions by 2012, over a 2008 baseline.EBay said it will achieve that target through continuing investments in renewable energy and promoting “sustainable” habits tied to the travel and personal energy use of its 15,000-strong workforce.EBay said that as an online company, a majority of its carbon footprint comes from the energy used at its data centers. So, tackling data management and infrastructure will be key to becoming more efficient. To that end, the company will unveil a “green” data center in 2010. EBay also said it will announce a fuel cell strategy in early 2010.Among the initiatives taken by its employees — a community garden project, participating in “National Cycle to Work” week and electronics recycling, with over 8,200 pounds of personal electronic equipment.Also in the basket:Too late to catch the turnaround train at eBay?Holiday spending seen flatZale to restate 2008, some 2009 resultsDiscounting on drugs – (WSJ, subscription required)(Photo: Reuters)
Check Out how Best Buy missed expectations.The top U.S. consumer electronics retailer checked in with a lower-than-expected profit on Tuesday, as it still had trouble selling videogames and digital cameras to cautious shoppers.Its profit fell to $158 million, or 37 cents per share in the second quarter that ended Aug. 29, from $202 million or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.Excluding a tax impact, its profit was 40 cents a share, while analysts had expected Best Buy to post a profit of 41 cents per share.The failure of Circuit City, which closed its doors early this year, has helped Best Buy gain market share in past months. But the latter’s failure to meet profit expectations stood out in the broader retail sector, where several other companies have leaned on cost cuts and lower inventory to compensate for weak demand.Also in the basket:U.S. retail sales surge, producer prices up on energyKroger 2nd-quarter profit down, full year forecast cutCracker Barrel Q4 profit tops Wall StreetFor chocolate fans, its a matter of taste – (WSJ, subscription reqd)(Photo/Reuters)
Check Out the competition in the mall.As retailers tried to attract consumers for some post-Labor Day shopping, apparel retailers Aeropostale and Charlotte Russe beat Gap Inc’s Old Navy chain in the pricing war this month, according to Eric Beder, associate director of research for Brean Murray Carret & Co.While Aeropostale has “never looked better” with its combination of good merchandise and prices, Arden B owner Wet Seal remains the “low price leader,” Beder said.Consumers have continued to seek lower prices for items like clothes and some surveys have predicted that although they might be willing to open up their wallets a little, they will still favor discounts as they draw up shopping lists ahead of the holiday season.Another teen retailer Abercrombie, which usually has higher prices, may be realizing that consumers are likely staying cautious spenders and is offering more promotions, Beder said in the research note.
And while Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters were using “strong fashions” to their advantage, Swedish apparel retailer H&M remains a top chain with low prices for fast fashion clothing and accessories, according to Beder.
Also in the basket:
Holiday buying spurs Paris trade shows – (WWD, subscription required)
Check Out this prediction about Black Friday deals.Black Friday, the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday that typically kicks off the holiday shopping season, is known for some of the best discounts of the year, both in stores and on the Web.And its never too early to think about deals, as illustrated by dealsnews.com, which has compiled a list of what it predicts will be the best holiday deals to emerge between mid-November and “Cyber Monday” — the Monday after Thanksgiving when office workers go online en masse to shop for specials.This year’s list kicks of with expected deals on netbooks, which are inexpensive and compact laptops suited for basic computing and surfing the Internet.Dealsnews predicted that a Linux-based netbook with 9-inch screen will be as cheap as $129, while pricier models would be “well-equipped” $399 netbooks with 15.4-inch screens.If you are in the market for a flat-screen TV, the Web site predicted that you are likely to find an abundance of deals. TVs traditionally are one of the top-selling items around the holidays since retailers offer deep discounts on them. This year, a 40-inch or 42-inch LCD high-definition TV could be as cheap as $449 while the bigger brand-name one with 52-inch screen could be on the market for $1,049, the Web site showed.The site also said shoppers should be able to snag good deals on Blu-ray players, and items like digital photo frames.Also in the basket:Target moves to declassify boardP&G sees sales rising in second quarterDollar General profit more than triples(Photo/Reuters)
Check Out the discount giant’s latest move.Walmart.com announced that it added nearly one million new products to its online collection with the launch of Walmart Marketplace, which lets consumers buy items from a specific group of other retailers through its own website.The move adds products and top brands in areas such as home goods, apparel, toys and baby items.The world’s largest retailer’s current Marketplace retailers include shoes to toys company CSN Stores, online bag and luggage seller eBags and Pro Team, a licensed sports clothing and collectibles company. The company said it plans to add more retailers over the next year.Wal-Mart, with its “Save money. Live better” slogan, has benefited in the past year as consumers have turned to its cheaper prices in the recession.For its latest online expansion, Wal-Mart said it picked specific retailers known for their assortment and customer service. All purchases from Walmart Marketplace retailers will be managed through Walmart.com’s checkout process, though the retailers themselves will manage other services such as shipping, customer service and returns.Also in the basket:Consumer spending up, but morale at 4-month lowMarvel jumps on acquisition by DisneySouth Korea changing tack in China marketHome barbering grows in recession – (WSJ, subscription required)(Photo/Reuters)
So you thought the “cash for clunkers” idea only extended to cars?Think again.Toys “R” Us, the U.S.-based specialty toy retailer, announced a national plan that lets consumers trade in their used cribs, car seats and other baby-related items in exchange for a 20-percent discount to buy a new product in the same categories and by specific manufacturers.The “Great Trade-In,” as the program is called, was put together to underline the fact that certain baby items are not ideal for being handed down or resold because of safety concerns.The Toys “R” Us program emphasizes specific items that are potentially unsafe and yet, in circulation. The company said only less than 30 percent of such items are returned when a recall warning is issued, citing consumer advocacy organization Kids In Danger.”“In today’s economy, we are all looking for ways to stretch our dollars, but in doing so, children’s safety should not be compromised,” said Toys“R”Us Chief Executive Jerry Storch. ““We hope this program will help raise awareness of the importance of being vigilant about potentially unsafe children’s items that may still be in the marketplace, while encouraging customers to use the ‘Great Trade-In’ event as an opportunity to remove used baby products, such as cribs and car seats, from their garages and attics.”The “Great Trade-In” begins Aug. 28 and will go on through Sept. 20 in all Babies “R” Us and Toys “R” Us stores around the United States.The manufacturers taking part in the event include Baby Cache, Babi Italia, Baby Trend, Bertini, Britax, Chicco, Contours by Kolcraft, Cosco, Delta, Eddie Bauer, Evenflo, Graco, Jeep, Nature’s Purest by Summer Infant, Safety 1st and Sorelle.(Photo/Reuters)
Check Out Unilever’s agreement with P.F. Chang’s.Europe-based Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer products companies, said on Monday that it has inked an exclusive licensing deal with Asian-themed restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s China Bistro to come up with a line of frozen entrees.Unilever is already known to have products like Knorr soup and the Bertolli range of Italian frozen meals in its portfolio.Now the company is diving into the Asian food arena, saying “the opportunity is significant.”As for P.F. Chang’s, this could be a blessing at the right time, as the company struggles with consumer who are eating less at sit-down restaurants, and a looming federal minimum wage increase.”This represents a fantastic growth opportunity for our company and allows our brand to reach more people more often,” said Rich Federico, chairman and co-chief executive of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.Terms of the deal were not disclosed and there is no word on when the new products will be ready.Also in the basket:Lowe’s posts lower profit, outlook disappointsJapan pulls out of recession, but outlook shakyH&M July same-store sales fall more than expectedFashion magazines are looking thinner – WSJ(Photo/P.F. Chang’s website)
Check Out one analyst’s view of direct sellers.Jefferies analyst Douglas Lane said quarterly results from direct selling companies — like cosmetics maker Avon and storage and serving containers maker Tupperware — bolsters his positive view on the model, which uses sales representatives to promote its products.Referring to Avon, Tupperware, Nu Skin, Herbalife and Usana Health Sciences, Lane said in a research note that “these five companies beat Street expectations by an average of over 20% in the June quarter, as well as the upper end of each mgt’s range in the cases one was articulated.”Avon, for instance, beat Wall Street’s quarterly profit expectations recently, and said it saw a leap in its representatives’ numbers, as more people turn to its easy and flexible sales model to make additional money in the economic slump.Tupperware’s results also soared past expectations, thanks in part to its presence in emerging markets — a factor that could bode well for all these companies, Lane said.”Our viewpoint continues to be that the consumer is not apt to lead us out of this recession the same way it did the last recession, and that we like having the exposure to the growth markets of the world, including those in Asia, Central & Eastern Europe and Latin America,” Lane said.But will everyone now turning to direct sellers to make an extra buck stick around when things get better? Time will tell.Also in the basket:McDonald’s same-store sales rise Hormel raises 2009 view on strong third quarterCoach extends CEO Frankfort’s tenure by 2 yrs Sam’s tests a big-box bodega – (WSJ subscription required)(Photo/Reuters)