Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Tussle over toys as holiday season nears


sears1Check out the latest news on the fight for a piece of toy market.

U.S. retailer Sears plans to launch 85 toy shops in select markets next month as it angles for a bigger bite of the holiday sales pie, a senior executive told Reuters. Specialty retailer Toys R Us previously announced plans to open about 600 temporary stores and 10 FAO Schwarz “pop-up” stores this year. 

The move from the operator of Sears department stores and the Kmart discount chain comes as competition heats up in the toy market ahead of the crucial selling season.

“We have a very aggressive plan for growing our toy business,” Julia Fitzgerald, chief marketing officer for Sears’ toy business said in an interview ahead of an event marking the launch of Kmart’s top toy picks for the holidays.

The decision came after many customers showed interest to shop for toys in convenient locations such as malls, during a pilot program in 20 department stores last year. 

Check Out Line: Steady is the new sexy!


shop1Check out the boring but steady holiday-season sales outlook.

U.S. retailers might have reason to celebrate amid the weak economy as a steady holiday season with a gentle increase in sales this year, executives said at the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit.

That would be a relief after the plummet in sales in 2008 as well as 2009, when stores waited for shoppers to return. But don’t expect a return to the heady days of 2007 either as shoppers are likely to remain cautious through the rest of the year.

Check Out Line: Estee Lauder had a beautiful holiday season


Fabrizio FredaCheck out Estee Lauder’s much better-than-expected end to 2009.

The cosmetics maker said fiscal second-quarter results, due next week, will fly past its forecast and Wall Street’s predictions.  Sound familiar?  That’s because the company did the same thing back in October, before it released results for the first quarter of its fiscal year.

Analysts noticed the similarity.  JP Morgan’s John Faucher entitled his research note “Deja Vu” and many said with the stock’s nice run already (up about 56 percent in 2009), big gains from here are likely limited.

Check Out Line:Teen retailers’ painful holiday


ABERCROMBIECheck out how teen retailers have miscalculated demand this holiday season and are resorting to steep discounts to get savvy young shoppers into their stores.

A visit this week to a Bay Area mall by Reuters reporter Alexandria Sage found that teen retailers such as American Eagle as well as Abercrombie & Fitch and its Hollister chain, have been reduced to slashing prices and offering “buy one, get one for half off” promos to salvage a holiday season that was supposed to be merrier than last year.

Winds blow in retailers’ favor


This Thanksgiving shopping weekend,  the weather may be one element not giving retailers a headache.

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.