Retailers, consumers and prices
Call it a test of the American consumer’s mettle.
How many will feel confident enough about the economy, and their own future within it, to spend money that is increasingly hard to come by? How many will resist the siren call of steep discounts and sales for even the hottest gadgets, like those available at Apple Inc’s stores?
This Black Friday, such questions are not only central to the future of many of the best known U.S. retailers, but amount to a key indicator of how quickly the country’s consumer-led economy will shrink in the coming months. How deep a recession could it be, how long might it last?
At Shop Talk, our colleagues are out across the country today, talking to scores of shoppers and documenting their stories, the hardships they have seen this year and the fears they voice about the coming year, after the holiday gatherings are over.
Nearly 45 percent of Americans are expected to turn out for the sales that started today and last through the weekend, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Stay tuned for anecdotes and pictures, and our full coverage on Reuters’ Holiday Shopping page. Let us know what you are seeing too.
With Black Friday only a few days away and projections for the holiday shopping season bleak, it's not surprising that Sony is making a price cut move on its PlayStation 3 video game console to lure cash-strapped shoppers.
Now, you can get a hearty $150 price cut on the PlayStation 3 console. The caveat: you've got to sign up for a shiny new PlayStation credit card first.
Retailers are geared up for the crucial three-day Thanksgiving shopping weekend, and many have already slashed prices to kick-start sales and rouse wary shoppers into spending mode.
Check Out the online deals planned for next Monday.
Most online shops are touting special promotions for Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving when, admit it, you use your high-speed Internet connection at work to check out sales. This year’s promotions — including a lot of free shipping — are crucial as retailers try to lure in shoppers who have been pulling back on spending ahead of the traditional holiday selling season.
SpendingPulse said Sunday that U.S. sales of everything from apparel to appliances plunged in the first two weeks of November, as consumers are cutting back on everything but necessities in this tough economy.
Nearly 84 percent of online retailers plan to have a Cyber Monday promotion, up from 72 percent who planned Cyber Monday deals last year, according to a survey by online shopping site Shopzilla for Shop.org, the Internet division of the National Retail Federation.
In early November, Internet sales did not perform as poorly as the overall lot, according to SpendingPulse, the retail data service of MasterCard Advisors, an arm of MasterCard Worldwide. Online sales showed the most modest decline of the period, at 7.5 percent.
This weekend’s finds on a New York City ramble include $5 ladies’ shoes and 24-hour check cashing. With Black Friday fast approaching at the end of this week, the pace of discounts and special offers is definitely picking up.
(Photos: Nick Zieminski for Reuters)
Give the "Glass is Half Full" award to Stan Glasgow, Sony's top U.S. electronics executive, ahead of what could be the most crucial (and potential painful) "Black Friday" shopping weekend in many years. It's normally a happy time of year, filled with family gathering, gifts, etc.
Perhaps, just perhaps, things aren't as bad as they seem, Glasgow told a gathering of journalists on Thursday, suggesting that there are great bargains to be had on cool gadgets and big TVs, if consumers can overcome their apprehension.
This Black Friday, Toys “R” Us is holding an additional hour of door-buster deals as it tries to get a bigger bite of sales this holiday season.
The specialty toy retailer is discounting more than 150 items this year, compared to the 101 that it announced a year ago. Shoppers can snap up toys and games at those special prices from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 28, known in the retail industry as Black Friday, the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Last year, the door-buster deals were finished by noon.
The financial crisis of the past two months has rocked retailers, and many are now planning to hire fewer seasonal workers and roll out promotions earlier than planned to try to salvage holiday sales, according to a recent survey by the Hay Group.
The human resources consulting firm conducted an informal survey in September with 20 of the top American retailers, including Best Buy, JC Penney, Costco, and Macy’s to get a glimpse into their plans for the holiday season.
The group then ran the survey again this month to find out how those plans may have changed given the recent financial crisis. Here is what the they found:
The impending U.S. holiday shopping season is expected to be a weak one, but the debate is coming down to whether it could end up as one of the worst on record, as consumers show an increasing reluctance to spend.
Government data released on Friday showed consumers continue to put the brakes on spending. Sales at U.S. retail stores fell for a second straight month, with sales of clothing and electronics, which typically see high demand for back-to-school, were weaker in August than July.