Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: The January job cuts continue


TARGET/Check out the stream of retailers rushing to announce job cuts and charges as they close out their fiscal years.

Late on Tuesday, Target said it would cut jobs, mainly at its headquarters in Minneapolis, while Best Buy (also headquartered in Minneapolis) said it planned involuntary layoffs after too few employees took voluntary exit packages.

The rush to downsize comes as many retailers approach Jan. 31, which marks the end of their fiscal year. With holiday sales at their worst in nearly four decades and the outlook for 2009 dimming by the day, retailers are trying to get the bad news out now so they can take charges in their fourth quarters.USA-HOLIDAYSALES/

The January surge of bad news was not completely unexpected.

In December, Reuters reported that U.S. retailers would speed up a wave of store closures, restructuring and job cuts to get a fresh start for 2009.

Check Out Line: Back to basics


PHILIPPINES/Check Out those price cuts.

While the holiday season celebrations have ended, shoppers are still bargain-hungry.  We haven’t seen major price cuts on hot items like the iPhone or Wii, though there does seem to be a trend brewing in bargain basics.

Here are just a few of the deals announced so far this week: 
Pennsylvania-based Weis Markets cut prices on thousands of items for 90 days at its 155 stores.
“With consumer confidence at an all-time low and the poor economy, we know that our customers are looking for long-term ways to save money,” said Weis Markets President David  Hepfinger.