Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Smaller discounts, smaller January sales?


discountCheck out consumers finding retailers offering smaller discounts in the days after Christmas — a possible drag on January sales.

According to a survey by America’s Research Group, 68.4 percent of consumers surveyed said they saw smaller discounts this year than last year after Christmas.

Meanwhile, 40.1 percent of those surveyed said they felt worse than they did a year ago about their financial situation, which means those smaller discounts may fail to keep shoppers buying well into January, said Britt Beemer, America’s Research Group founder.

“You never want the negative numbers to ever get above 25 percent,” Beemer said. “I just think it is a reflection of how frugal the consumer is and is going to remain in the marketplace,” he said.

Target wants shoppers to squeeze the (supersized) Charmin


Grab that shopping cart – you’re going to need it.

greatsaveTo lure post holiday shoppers this year, Target has scrapped its typical plan of stocking its stores with exotic home goods sourced from across this globe.

Instead, it has cleared out the Christmas trees and holiday lights to make room for a mini warehouse club.

Check Out Line: Retail’s Monday morning quarterbacks


nutcracker.JPGCheck out the various descriptions of the 2009 holiday shopping season, which unofficially ended on Friday with Christmas. Analysts’ Monday morning reviews range from ”adequate” to “quite pleased”.

“All in all … Holiday 2009 was good enough, but has a long way to go with catching up to what the consumer really wants,” said NPD Group analyst Marshal Cohen. “And if the economy is truly to recover, not only does the housing and credit market need to recover, but the innovation market for retail products must recover as well.”

Target pops up, but this time with a focus on price


tgt1Target is a big fan of the pop up store, setting up miniature versions of itself for a few days so shoppers can buy its wares, often in cities where it does not have a large presence.

A year ago, right before the financial storm hit Wall Street in September, it set up “Bullseye Bodegas” in Manhattan, where it showcased exclusive merchandise by 22 designers.

Check Out Line: A Black Friday extravaganza!


HOLIDAYSALES/Today’s a serious shopping day for serious shoppers.

Black Friday is no longer a sport for the leisurely shopper. From our late-night rounds, it became clear that people were lining up all over in the dead of night (and some earlier than that!) not just for the fun of it but out of necessity.

While many of the stoutest shoppers were grimly determined to get their deals and get out, there was some fun and holiday cheer.

Consumers shrug in the face of lean inventory


bored1Lean inventory may be the secret weapon that retailers are depending on to survive the holiday season with earnings intact.

But consumers don’t exactly seem to be quaking in their boots at the prospects of finding empty racks this Christmas season.

Check Out Line: The dreaded 10 percent


unemployment1Check out the grim unemployment numbers from the U.S. Labor Department on Friday, a day after dozens of retail chains reported lackluster October sales.

U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 190,000 jobs in October, driving the jobless rate to 10.2 percent, the highest in more than 26 years.

Check Out Line: Forecast calls for early Christmas shopping


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)

Check Out Line: Train wreck Christmas?


santaCheck out a rather glum outlook for the Christmas shopping season.

Last year, holiday sales notched their worst performance in nearly four decades.

This year, they could be a “train wreck” says Britt Beemer, founder and CEO of America’s Research Group.

Check Out Line: Is it Christmastime already?


Check out some shoppers saving for holiday gifts.

santa-claus-on-the-beachYes, it is still summer, but a comparison shopping Web site decided to find out how recession-weary shoppers feel about spending for the upcoming winter holidays.
Just over 75 percent of respondents to’s recent survey said they are more concerned about the cost of holiday gift-giving this year.  So, how many are starting to save earlier?  Only 41.1 percent.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the survey from
Compared to the 2008 holiday season, are you more concerned about the cost of holiday gift-giving this year because of the recession?
35.2% Yes, I am highly concerned
40.1% Yes, I am moderately concerned
24.7% No, I am not at all concerned
Are you planning to start saving money for holiday gift-giving earlier than last year because of the recession?