Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Toys R Us says more is merrier this Xmas


Toys R Us pop-up store Check out the latest attempt by a U.S. retailer to win shoppers ahead of the key holiday shopping season.

Toys R Us is planning to open about 600 pop-up stores in malls and shopping centers around the United States this Christmas season. That is more than six times what the world’s largest dedicated toy retailer opened last year. Many of those nearly 90 Toys R Us Express locations have remained open through 2010.

The company, which already operates 587 full-size Toys R Us stores, said the latest initiative should broaden its reach and win more shoppers.

“By doubling the number of Toys R Us locations nationwide, now more than ever we will be available when and where customers want to shop with us this holiday season,” CEO Jerry Storch said.

Bad economy equals tough time for teeth


We all know that people have cut back on shopping, dining out, vacations and other pursuits in the difficult economy. Turns out many are also neglecting their smiles.

dentistMore than 90 percent of dentists surveyed by the Chicago Dental Society said clients are putting off cosmetic procedures, up from 60 percent a year earlier.

from Raw Japan:

Cheap treat keeps Japan sweet

JAPAN-SNACK/What is sticky, shaped like a fish and helps Japanese people shrug off the lingering effects of the country's worst recession since World War Two?

The economy is struggling but sales of a traditional, fish-shaped sweet snack are going along swimmingly, thanks to its low price and auspicious name.

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: What goes around comes around


snowmanCheck out what’s coming around again this holiday season.

It’s that gift you gave someone last year.

According to a holiday shopping poll conducted by Consumer Reports in October, 36 percent of Americans say they have “recycled” a holiday gift. That’s up from 31 percent in 2008 and 24 percent in 2007.

Those more likely to re-gift include women, adults under 55 years old, residents of the U.S. West and people with children under the age of 12.

Check Out Line: Jonesing for another earnings beat


Check out which company Wall Street keeps underestimating.

It’s Jones Apparel. The retailer and apparel maker once again “reported a much higher-than-expected” quarterly profit. Last quarter, Reuters said the company “beat estimates handsomely.” The quarter before that it was “easily beat estimates.”

Heck, even in the fourth quarter, when almost all retailers and apparel makers were hammered by the recession and credit meltdown, the company reported a “smaller-than-expected” quarterly loss.

from MacroScope:

Housing “W”hipsaw looms

After months of cheerier data, the housing market is set for another tumble, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine, California. The consultants, who provide advice for builders, developers and banks, are calling for a "W"-shaped recovery, marked first by the plunge that Americans living off of home equity would rather forget.

America has breathed a sigh of relief since April, as the summer selling season kicked in and the $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit nudged consumers off the fence into the most affordable market in years. These factors, along with easy financing from the Federal Housing Administration, was the first leg up for the "W," said Lisa Marquis Jackson, a vice president at John Burns.

The onset of the weaker selling months, a building pipeline of foreclosures and expiration of the tax-credit on Nov. 30 will likely bring rising prices upturn to a halt, creating a "false peak" and fresh downturn, the group says. Federal efforts have slowed foreclosures but have not addressed many issues including unemployment and underwater mortgages, leaving a heavy "shadow inventory" set to knock prices to fresh lows.

A brighter view doesn’t lead to increased spending


paying-billAmericans may have become more confident in the economy but they haven’t started spending heavily again — and that could be bad new for retailers this holiday season.

Discover’s U.S. Spending Monitor for September rose for the second straight month, climbing 2 points to 89 (based out of 100).  Thirty-three percent of respondents said they felt economic conditions were improving, a Monitor high and a 2-point rise from August.

from Fan Fare:

NY Fashion Week models feel economic chill

Models at New York Fashion Week are facing an even more competitive environment as many designers continue to down-size and opt for cheaper presentations over runway shows, said Marques Nolan, an agent for Code Model Management.


Model Emily Fox, backstage before the Academy of Arts runway show, said designers are holding less castings making it even more competitive than usual to get modeling work.   It has also become more common for models to be paid in clothes rather than money, she said.

Check Out Line: Suppliers on Kraft chopping block


Check out Kraft slashing its supplier base.
Yes, Kraft is doing more than just trying to buy Cadbury.  The company is still operating its business and part of that is the process of looking to improve its margins.
Kraft told Reuters it plans to cut its supplier base to less than half of its 70,000 companies.
“We’re essentially taking a white sheet of paper and saying ‘what is the right number of suppliers to support this particular category, who are they, what is the capability we need for now and in the future, and does the current supplier base have that,’ ” Julia Brown, senior vice president of procurement at Kraft, said.
Suppliers have been under pressure in recent years as companies look to work with fewer vendors that operate more as partners.
The recovery is actually expected to make things worse for some suppliers as they find out they cannot get financing to ramp up operations as their customers start looking to buy from them again.
The winners will likely find even more business as they work closer with companies.
For the loser, it could be “supply-side wreckonomics.”
Also in the basket:
McDonald’s same-store sales up 2.2 percent
Talbots loss narrower than expected
Jewelry retailer Signet profit tops estimates
Speedo extends sponsor deal with Michael Phelps

(Reuters photo)