Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: This week in retail wasn’t pretty

November 14, 2008

Check out a stream of extremely sobering news from – and for – retailers.

This week, quarterly reports came in from Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, JC PenneyCharlotte Russe, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

What did they all have in common? All reported profit drops and in the case of Macy’s and Charlotte Russe, quarterly losses.

Those dreary results followed a bankruptcy filing by Circuit City at the start of the week and then a large profit warning from competitor Best Buy.

Wal-Mart, the retailing behemoth, was able to post a nearly 10 percent rise in its quarterly earnings. But investors were somewhat taken aback when it provided a fourth-quarter earnings forecast that could possibly fall below Wall Street expectations, as it gets hit by a stronger U.S. dollar — which lowers the value of its international sales.

To cap it all off, government data showed on Friday that sales at U.S. retailers suffered a record decline in October. Sales slumped 2.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted $363.7 billion, the largest decline since the series began in 1992, the Commerce Department said. This compared with a revised 1.3 percent fall in September, previously reported as a 1.2 percent decrease.

It all comes just two weeks before retailers try to get consumers into their stores — and then actually spending money — during the Thanksgiving holiday shopping week. Get ready for a discount bonanza!

Also in the basket:

Wal-Mart CFO: strong dollar could lower cost of goods CEO says sales grow despite downturn

Americans teetering on $14 trillion debt pile

(Photo: Reuters)

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