Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Can a $298 laptop jump-start back-to-school?

July 23, 2009

schoolbus2Check out efforts to get serious back-to-school shopping underway.

Wal-Mart announced plans to start selling on Sunday a Compaq Presario laptop for $298.

Gary Severson, Wal-Mart U.S.’s senior vice president of home entertainment, told Reuters he thought the deal represented a “screaming value.”

The retailer also plans to cut the price of an Acer laptop with an 8-hour battery by $50 to $548. The computer has 3 gigabytes of memory, a 320 gigabyte hard drive and qualifies for a free upgrade to the Windows 7 operating system when it is released.

Retailers ranging from Wal-Mart, to Target, to J.C. Penney have outlined their plans to lure back-to-school shoppers. Penney is using a special website, jcp.com/teen, to reach web-savvy teenagers who shop for themselves in the back-to-school period but may have less money to do so this year.

But retailers are confronting cash strapped shoppers, who are watching their pennies as the unemployment rate rises and the housing market remains depressed.

Asked for his view of the back-to-school season, the Chief Executive of UPS, Scott Davis, said on a conference call it was too early to tell.

“We’ve not seen a lot of signs yet based on the air freight market and ocean freight market,” he said.

But he said Wal-Mart’s plans to increase its selection of laptop computers was a good sign and perhaps the back-to-school season would be better — a hope likely held by the entire retail industry.

Also in the basket:

Amazon.com buying shoe seller Zappos for $928 million

Kimberly-Clark 2nd-quarter profit falls

McDonald’s quarterly profit falls

Safeway cuts view after tax matter aides profit

P.F. Chang’s, Chipotle, Domino’s top Street

(Photo\Reuters)

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