Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Retail suffers in all sorts of fashion

March 12, 2008

talbots.jpgCheck out the weak quarters at American Eagle and Talbots.

Apparently the tough U.S. retail environment is not age-specific.

American Eagle Outfitters, which sells teen apparel said fourth-quarter profit fell more than 6 percent amid weak sales, higher markdowns and competition from rivals.

The retailer also forecast first-quarter earnings well below analysts’ expectations as it has had to take higher markdown.

Meanwhile, Talbots, which sells apparel for women who generally are not in their teens, posted a quarterly loss, hurt by a charge related to its J. Jill business, store closings and declining sales.

But the company still posted a loss even without the charges. The company, like its rivals that also sell classic clothing to women over the age of 40, has struggled for more than a year with slow consumer traffic and declining sales.

Talbots said it is planning conservatively for 2008, with leaner inventories, better pricing and “more compelling” clothes in the fall, all of which it hopes will lead to a profit this year.

Also in the basket:

Economy faces recession, probably in Q1

Pilgrim’s Pride closing chicken facilities

Making the grade at meat judging (Wall Street Journal)

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