Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Anyone bidding on an overhaul at eBay?

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ebayCheck out the transformation eBay, the Internet’s premier auction website, hopes to pull off.

Trying to ease fears its best days are in the rearview mirror, eBay is counting on growth at its PayPal payments system and jump-starting its lagging core business.

Chief Executive John Donahue has vowed “ruthless” change to its model.

Skeptics saw nothing new in eBay’s plans, however. Analysts have said eBay needs to raise its performance in the recession and fend off online retailer Amazon.com, which has stolen market share.

Check Out Line: The year of the vampire

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Check Out the top products on Amazon.com.
 
Amazon.com just came out with its “best of” lists for 2008.  Since Amazon is best known for selling books (even though it offers everything from groceries to jewelry these days), we thought you might want to know which titles were the hottest this year.

USA/No surprise to tween girls or their parents, the best-selling book was “Breaking Dawn,” also known as the fourth book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga.

Check Out Line: Mixed Sales News

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Check Out mixed news on the retail sales front.

Retailers are now out to lure consumers with after-Christmas deals as data show this year’s BRITAIN-SALES/VIEWholiday season was one of the weakest in decades.

The retail data service of MasterCard Advisors said U.S. retail sales fell as much as 4 percent during the holiday season. SpendingPulse tracks sales activity in the MasterCard payments network and couples that with estimates for other payment forms.

“These companies make me feel secure”

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Worried about the safety of your personal information? On second thought, maybe you’re not — if you shop with your American Express card, surf eBay or use an IBM system.
 
Those three companies are consumers’ picks for the top most trusted when it comes to protecting their customers’ privacy, according to a survey by TRUSTe, a consumer privacy protection organization, and the Ponemon Institute, an independent research group. 
 
Consumers reported that identity theft is the No. 1 factor influencing their view of how companies handle privacy concerns, with only 45 percent of respondents saying they felt they had control over how their personal information was used or shared. That’s down from 56 percent two years ago.
    
The worries over data security are real — companies from discount retailer TJX Cos to Bank of New York Mellon Corp have had major data breaches compromising the personal information of millions of consumers.
    
The top ten list is rounded out by Amazon.com, Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. Postal Service (which shares the No. 6 spot with Hewlett Packard), Procter & Gamble, Apple, Nationwide, and Charles Schwab.
    
The survey, now in its fifth year, polled nearly 6,500 U.S. adults to determine their view of the most trustworthy companies and brands when it comes to protecting personal information.
    
Companies including Disney, AOL and Dell made it to the top 20 list, with Yahoo, FedEx, Facebook and Verizon joining that group for the first time since 2004, when the Ponemon Institute began conducting research on the topic. It was also the first time for Apple, at No 8.

Google, whose growing dominance of the search market has prompted questions over how it uses its data, found itself ousted from the Top 20 list this year, as were Countrywide and Bank of America.

Overstock.com wants to bail you out

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Online retailer Overstock.com is pitching a rescue package for shoppers who are neck-deep in debt.

The company’s “Family Bailout” contest will pay off up to $50,000 in debt belonging to the winner or a member of his or her immediate family. The money gets paid directly to “qualified” creditors like mortgage or credit card companies.

Gift cards go interactive at Amazon.com

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Feeling guilty about giving an uninspired gift card in this uninspired holiday season? How about a little pizzazz?

Amazon.com is dressing up its electronic gift cards this year, partnering with HDGreetings, which makes animated, high definition e-cards.

Drug stores top hot list with acquisitions

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(Due to a tabulation error in the research, STORES Magazine has issued a corrected list. This is being corrected to remove Coldwater Creek from the Top 10 list and replace it with Citi Trends at No. 10) 

cvs.jpgThough the retail industry cooled last year to its slowest growth since 2002, a number of retail companies experienced fiery growth, according to the National Retail Federation. The hottest retailers, in general, grew through acquisitions, according to the trade group’s STORES Magazine.

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