Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Steady is the new sexy!

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shop1Check out the boring but steady holiday-season sales outlook.

U.S. retailers might have reason to celebrate amid the weak economy as a steady holiday season with a gentle increase in sales this year, executives said at the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit.

That would be a relief after the plummet in sales in 2008 as well as 2009, when stores waited for shoppers to return. But don’t expect a return to the heady days of 2007 either as shoppers are likely to remain cautious through the rest of the year.

“It’s going to be the most boring holiday season we’ve had in quite some time,” said Janet Hoffman, global managing director for Accenture’s retail practice.  “(That’s) going to be really good news for many retailers because what they’re going to see is incremental lift in sales.” 

At the summit, clothing maker Perry Ellis said it sees industrywide prices on apparel rising 10 percent over the next two years. 

Deals and discounts in vogue this Valentine’s Day

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rosesAs procrastinators (or those who were too busy shoveling last weekend) head out to find a perfect last-minute gift, they may be happy to hear that less is expected this Valentine’s Day. 

Most consumers in romantic relationships don’t plan to spend much, if anything, on Valentine’s Day gifts, according to a new survey from Accenture. That backs up the findings from a National Retail Federation survey, which found that U.S. couples planned to spend 6 percent less on each other this year.

Check Out Line: Forecast calls for early Christmas shopping

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holiday-window-shoppingCheck out who is shopping early for Christmas.
 
U.S. consumer are, according to a new Accenture survey, which showed that 69 percent of shoppers plan to do the bulk of their holiday shopping by Dec. 7.  That’s up from 60 percent a year earlier.
 
More than half (52 percent), plan to shop on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), up from 42 percent last year.
 
The game of chicken between retailers and shoppers over discounts may be more intense this year after retailers had to practically give the store away in 2008 to clear inventory in the middle of the recession.
 
The vast majority of consumers (86 percent) will not be moved to buy without a discount of at least 20 percent, and a quarter of shoppers will be looking for an aggressive 50 percent discount before they open their wallets, the survey said.
 
“We have seen a ‘shift to thrift’ across all income levels during this economic downturn and breaking that habit will be the greatest challenge for retailers this holiday season,” Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice, said in a news release.
 
Gift cards may also come back, with 79 percent of people saying they will give them and 59 percent saying they really want them.
 
Also in the basket:
 
Cadbury’s bumper Q3 puts pressure on suitor Kraft
 
Altria revenue misses estimates
 
P.F. Chang’s profit misses; ups ’09 outlook

(Reuters photo)

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