Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Finding the humor in it all


There are very few things to laugh about in the retail world at the moment, but JP Morgan analyst Brian Tunick did a great job of adding some humor to what was a difficult week, especially for Gymboree.

Gymboree gave a bleak forecast for its first quarter, saying regulatory changes related the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed by the Congress in August 2008 will impact sales and gross margins in the first half of 2009. The act required the Consumer Product Safety Commission to begin enforcement of new lead and phthalate standards for children’s products on Feb. 10, 2009.

To try to make light of the situation, Tunick put together this humorous list of the Top 10 new issues that the Consumer Products Safety Commission has its eyes on, and he gave us permission to publish it:

USA-RETAIL/BACKTOSCHOOL10. Retroactive to August 2006, Forever 21 and Wet Seal shoppers must comply with new rules governing proper disposal of disposable fashion.
9. $98 ballet flats may only be worn while actually performing ballet. Or if someone’s inventories are up mid-teens.
8. Unless you can prove that you are attending a bachelor party in Vegas, the
Buckle must limit its customers to one item of Ed Hardy, Affliction or Obey per hour per day.
7. Unless you can prove that you are attending a bachelorette party in Vegas,
Bebe Sport must limit its customers to one rabbit fur performance vest and matching Bebe Baby (and we’re not kidding) metallic diaper bag.
6. A new 24 hour hotline has been set up for consumers to call if they’ve accidentally combined the highly volatile
Coconut Lime Verbena shower gel with Honey Suckle Dawn anti-bacterial hand foam.
5. Big box value retailers located within a 100 mile radius of an
Old Navy store must relocate immediately to help customers rediscover the family, fun and value that you can find ONLY at Old Navy.
ABERCROMBIE-EXPANSION/BRITAIN4. Abercrombie greeters and employees working in the front room must have no more than 8% body fat on the day they are hired and no more than 2% by the time Mike Jeffries makes a surprise visit to the store.
3. Beginning March 10th,
JOSB (Jos. A. Bank) must actually sell something in the store at full price.
2. All retailers employing
Debbie Phelps (The mother of Michael Phelps, who wore Chico’s clothes during her son’s historic performances at the Beijing Olympics) must increase the minimum content of novelty in novelty jackets, so that people might actually buy them.
And finally #1…….While we understand it may be tempting,
TJX and Ross Stores must restrain from selling lead tainted GYMB inventory to bargain hungry off-price shoppers.

Which fashionista are you endorsing?


michele-obama.jpgIn politics, appearance is everything. And for politicians’ wives, looking great for the cameras is key, whether its the Jackie Kennedy-influenced sheaths favored by Michelle Obama, or the bold, jewel-tone colors Cindy McCain sported at the GOP convention this week.

And for designers, having your outfits worn by a potential First Lady certainly can’t hurt. Witness the press (and extra sales) generated for Chico’s White House Black Market chain after Michelle Obama wore a black and white scoop-neck day dress from the retailer during an appearance on ABC‘s “The View.”
Chico’s could use the lift, given over a year of dwindling sales at its main chain that caters to women over the age of 40. Earlier this week, it announced an endorsement deal with Debbie Phelps, who it said wore its clothes the whole time she was in Beijing cheering her son, Olympic champion Michael Phelps.