Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Starbucks, coffee shops see collateral benefit from Black Friday


STARBUXBlack Friday bargain hunting is a marathon, requiring a shopper to be alert and aggressive to outmaneuver rivals for that last $200 LCD TV at Target. But with so many retailers opening their doors at midnight, why bother going to sleep? Even if you shopped at Kohl’s, which opened at 3 am or J.C. Penney, at 4 am, you were in for very short night for most.

So bleary-eyed shoppers turned out in drove at U.S. malls on Friday, with lines at coffee shops among the longest.

Mall operator Macerich said on Friday that the Starbucks at its Tysons Corner Center in suburban Washington had lines 30 people deep at 11 a.m. At the Newport Center mall in Jersey City, exhausted shoppers could be seen forming a line of 20 to get much needed java.

After all, no one wants to be caught unawares when cashmere sweaters for 50 percent off are at stake.

from MediaFile:

When gamers hit Toys R Us and other tales of Black Friday

Sprinkled among the snaking lines of parents at a Toys R Us in New Jersey on Black Friday were diehard gamers. Many had no children to spoil. Nor were they particularly happy to be in the Toys R Us; but with gaming hardware fast selling out across the region, they followed the scent of the deal.

The Kinect moved especially fast, if early anecdotal evidence is any measure. Brisk sales of  hardware like the PlayStation3, Xbox and Microsoft Kinect on the nation's biggest annual shopping spree also bode well for software sales, says Mike Hickey, a Janco Partners analyst.

Teens, men, self-love boost Black Friday


AEROPOSTALEAfter going AWOL for a couple of years, it sounds like men and teens are flexing their spending muscles this year and are helping retailers out this Black Friday.

“There seems to be a lot more men and a lot more younger consumers between the ages of 15 and 25,” said Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren in an interview. And it wasn’t just at Macy’s.

The eye in the sky forecasts holiday sales


park1By  Jon Lentz

When predicting holiday shopping traffic, it can help to take a bird’s eye view.
Or even better, take a peak from outer space.
That’s what Thomson Reuters analyst Jharonne Martis-Olivo did, using mall traffic data for the 10 weeks leading up to Black Friday gleaned from satellite images showing how crowded shopping mall parking lots were as a way to detect shopping patterns. The data from the images was provided by Remote Sensing Metrics.
Her conclusion? Mall traffic for November 2010 has recently shown a steep rise, pointing to stronger same-store sales.
The data include more than 500 satellite observations of car count from shopping malls across the country.
Mall parking lots were only 30 percent full in September of 2008, a period when same-store sales declined.
During September in 2009 and 2010, more cars were parked outside the malls, which correlated with an uptick in sales.
Other factors, such as how much a customer spends on a visit, also play a role. For example, prices were slashed in 2008 in November as retailers struggled through the worst financial crisis in decades.
But prices seem to be less of a factor this year, and November sales could be looking up. Different companies are taking different approaches to attracting holiday shoppers.

Source: Image of Southtown Shopping Center in Minnesota: (C) 2010 DigitalGlobe, Remote Sensing Metrics analysis.

The time of two Thanksgivings


FDR Thanksgiving

By James Ledbetter

You hear a lot these days about how much businesses dislike “uncertainty.” It’s too hard, goes the refrain, to figure out how financial reform is going to play out, or how much heath care reform is going to cost. Better to play it safe and not hire anyone.

But at least today’s businesses are reasonably assured of a stable calendar. During the latter years of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, this was not the case.  In August of 1939, President Roosevelt was taking a brief summer fishing trip on Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, just over the border from southeastern Maine.  A handful of journalists were gathered in the living room of the red cottage that had belonged to the president’s mother. After some discussion of the tensions in Europe—this was August 14, less than three weeks before the German invasion of Poland—FDR said to the newsmen: “Oh! I will give you a story I had entirely forgotten. I have been having from a great many people, for the last six years, complaints that Thanksgiving Day came too close to Christmas. Now this sounds silly.” But the president went on to explain that the tradition that had begun with Abraham Lincoln of annually celebrating Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November created a time window between Labor Day and Thanksgiving that was too long without a holiday, and a time window between Thanksgiving and Christmas that was too short.

Seasons 52 chef says fat does not equal flavor


CliffPleauDoes food have to be full of fat, sugar and salt to taste good?

Clifford Pleau, executive chef for Darden Restaurants’ Season 52 chain, where every menu item is 475 calories or less, doesn’t think so.

“I haven’t touched butter in 10 years. You don’t need it,” said Pleau, uttering words that would make the late, great, butter-loving Julia Child roll over in her grave.

Glutton fashion, just in time for turkey day


Thanksgiving is fast approaching and you know what that means: It’s time to put away your designer jeans and man Spanx and settle into something a little more … accommodating.

1sowbLet us introduce you to Gluttony Pants, the result of a partnership between Betabrand and chef Chris Cosentino. They’re the shade of a perfectly roasted turkey, have pockets the color of cranberries and adjust to three indulgent sizes:  piglet, sow and boar.

“Was there something wrong with this item?”


BRITAIN/You’ve been there before. The sales lady in the store skeptically fingers your return item, then gives you a withering look.

“Was there anything wrong with this item????” she asks dubiously, as you flounder to prove your innocence.

Coffee’s third wave


intelligentsia1Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea founder Doug Zell is part of an independent third wave of upscale coffee houses taking advantage of America’s growing thirst for the premium coffees that Starbucks helped introduced to the masses. ( Click here to see today’s special report on Starbucks on, or read the report in PDF format.)

“It’s moving from a commodity to a culinary ingredient,” said Zell, whose buyers scour the globe for the best beans and increasingly are focused on treating coffee like a seasonal item — meaning the time from harvest to cup is no more than six months.

Reem Acra: Brides just want to have fun

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Not everyone would be able to pull it off – pairing bunny ears with bridal gowns that evoked the Hollywood glamour of iconic movie stars. But Lebanese fashion designer Reem Acra did just that at her Fall 2011 bridal show on Sunday. 

“I loved the ears,” said buyer Dorothy Kelly, who together with her daughter owns  J.J. Kelly Bridal & Formal Wear in Oklahoma City.