Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Parents back to buying toys

USA/Check out strong quarterly results from Hasbro.

The No. 2 toymaker behind Mattel said quarterly net profit nearly tripled while revenue jumped 8.2 percent. The maker of Littlest Pet Shop said it got the biggest boost from girls and preschoolers, with sales jumping 16 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Some of the gain came from favorable currency exchange rates, but even excluding that factor, revenue was up 5 percent. Mattel also posted stronger-than-expected quarterly results.

Sales of products for boys only rose 3 percent, but Hasbro is expecting more gains from toys tied to the releases of two movies — “Iron Man 2″ and “Toy Story 3″ — this year.  Its lineup for 2012 is stronger, with “Stretch Armstrong,” “Battleship,” “The First Avenger: Captain America” and “Spider-Man 4″ movies all slated for release that year.

Also in the basket:

Best Buy plans to expand Mobile stores in U.S.-FT

Designer gowns, stylish undies? Chinese crave labels

Air woes disrupt Norwegian, Icelandic fish exports

(Photo: Reuters)

Check Out Line: Barbie and friends sell well


Check out the stronger-than-anticipated results from Mattel.

Triple H figureThe toy giant notched a 12 percent jump in sales and a surprise profit in its latest quarter, sending a strong signal that toys are getting year-round attention, not just a holiday season boost.

Barbie’s sales rose 5 percent and some newer items, such as the World Wresting Entertainment and Thomas and Friends collections, were very good sellers, Mattel said.  (That’s Triple H showing off his WWE action figure at Toy Fair earlier this year)

LOFT to offer style help


USA/For the modern professional woman who may have trouble putting together separate pieces of clothing in an interesting way, Ann Taylor LOFT is offering some help.

Its latest effort, called LOFT Style Studio, involves four stylists taking various items from the brand’s fall collection and putting them together in ways that may be unexpected (think faux fur vest on top of a tweed-like jacket or a striped cardigan over a floral dress).  The ensembles will appear in LOFT stores, and various executives promise there will be ways for curious consumers to interact with the stylists and the brand via social networking.

Retailers eye some expansion in 2010


TIFFANYAfter their abysmal 2009, nearly half of all U.S. retail chains plan on at least maintaining their number of stores this year, according to a survey released on Thursday by consultancy KPMG and industry group the National Retail Federation.

Far more retailers were planning to open stores than close them, according to the survey of 310 retail industry executives, representing 138 companies, conducted late last year.

Check Out Line: Bring a mug, get free Starbucks java, save the world


mugsCheck out how Starbucks is working to persuade you to help save the planet by using fewer of its iconic paper cups.

On Thursday the company, which hands out about 4.75 million cups a day, is giving away free coffee to everyone who brings in a reusable mug or travel tumbler.

Check Out Line: Amazon’s board shrinks


Check out the downsizing at

No, no, it’s not a big corporate layoff. But the e-commerce giant is cutting the size of its board of directors by 12.5 percent.

Of course, once you’ve lost the part of “the center of gravity in the Internet,” why even try to replace him.

Check Out Line: More quarterly earnings to parse


louis1Check out the latest raft of earnings for clues on the U.S. economy’s health.

LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury group, posted a forecast-beating 13 percent increase in same-store sales, helped by a strong rebound in the United States and Europe.

Check Out Line: California Pizza Kitchen cooking up deal?


cpk2Check out California Pizza Kitchen’s confirmation it is exploring its options, including a possible sale.

The 25-year-old restaurant chain, which also raised its first-quarter profit forecast, said it is weighing financial and strategic alternatives, including a sale.

No need for a man purse, wear an iPad vest instead!


img_ipad_framesYou’ve got the hottest new gadget in town. Now where do you put it?
Inside an iPAD-compatible vest, of course.
Ketchum, Idaho-based Scottevest, which debuted a line of clothing in 2005 that was compatible with the smaller iPod, has introduced “outerwear” with a large interior pocket that holds Apple‘s latest device securely without damaging the screen.    

“If you’re going to carry it around all the time, you don’t want to carry it in a purse,” said Chief Executive and Founder Scott Jordan. “I don’t think men want to carry around a purse.” 

Walgreen’s shiny new purchase


Walgreen officially owns New York’s Duane Reade drugstore chain as of Friday, less than two months after the deal was announced.  Walgreen, which got its start in Chicago and is based in a nearby Illinois suburb, is now the biggest drugstore operator in New York City after adding 258 Duane Reade stores, two distribution centers and a corporate office to its 70 stores in the area.

A small percentage of Duane Reade’s stores are rather snazzy, some new and others renovated, and stand out compared to other drugstores, including Walgreens stores, in the Big Apple.  Those makeovers and Duane Reade’s strong push into private label products were some of what attract Walgreen, which is working on its own store upgrades. (But there are still dozens of Duane Reade stores that have yet to get a makeover.)