Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Borders had a lousy Christmas


BORDERSBOOKSCheck out Borders’ poor 2009 holiday sales numbers.

The No 2 U.S. bricks-and-mortar bookseller disclosed its how sharply sales fell during the disastrous 2009 holiday season on Monday (apparently hoping no one would notice on the Martin Luther King Jr holiday, with the markets closed).  It is hardly the kind of news Borders needs after it has been lambasted by investors and analysts alike for coming so very late to the e-books reader game.

Borders said comparable sales at its superstores fell 14.6 percent in the 11-week period ended Jan. 16. (To be fair, excluding weak sales in items such as music and video, which Borders is moving away from, sales were down 10.9 percent.)  How did it stack up against its biggest rival? Barnes & Noble’s same-store sales fell 5.4 percent in the nine weeks ended on Jan 2.

Borders CEO Ron Marshall said he was “disappointed” with the results. Maybe he should also be worried. A year earlier, a decent holiday season allowed the company to have its only profitable quarter in fiscal 2009. (For now, though, analysts seem to think Borders made money during the holidays despite dwindling sales, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.)

Still, investors see some cause for concern.  Borders shares fell 14 percent to $1.17 in premarket trading on Monday.

Check Out Line: Best Buy’s claims on market share gains


bbyCheck out the holiday sales results from Best Buy.

The top U.S. consumer electronics chain said its December same-store sales rose 8.2 percent, recovering from last year’s 6.5 percent drop.

The company attributed the gains to strong demand for notebook computers and mobile phones, and said  it believes its domestic segment continued to “experience strong market share gains” for the month ended Nov. 30.

Check Out Line: Snowstorm doesn’t drive shoppers online


SHOPPERS2Check out how the East Coast’s weekend snowstorm might not have been a boon to online shoppers.

A survey of 1,000 U.S. shoppers over the weekend found that the convenience of shopping from the warmth of their homes and the bask of their computer screens was not enough to lure them away from bricks and mortar stores even in whiteout conditions.

Check Out Line: Invasion of the robo-hamsters


Check out the Zhu Zhu Pet airlift of 2009. ZhuZhuworld

Wal-Mart is flying and trucking in hundreds of thousands of the robotic varmints to lure shoppers into the doors during the last days before Christmas.

The fake pets — which have presumably turned 1,00s of children into Zhu Zhu pests to their parents and grandparents — will be sold  starting at 7 a.m. on Dec. 21-Dec. 23, with stores each getting a limited amount.

Check Out Line: Holidays not looking so holly, jolly


rtxr75n1Check out the lackluster start to the holiday season for major U.S. retailers.

The Thomson Reuters same-store sales index rose 0.5 percent in November, while Wall Street experts had been expecting 2.1 percent growth, and 81 percent of companies missed expectations.

Talk about shaking Wall Street’s optimistic belief that this year’s holiday shopping season would be off to a much stronger start than in 2008, when the global economy seemed to be in free fall.

Check Out Line: Online shopping saving season?


Check out that cyber spending.

cybermondayCyber Monday ended barely a few hours ago and already the first reports are trickling in: online shopping looks like it may save the holiday season for retailers after Black Friday in bricks and mortars stores disappointed.  Online shopping looks to be headed for record levels.

According to a report released on Tuesday morning by Coremetrics, overall CyberMonday sales were up 13.7 percent over 2008 and the average order size soared 38.2 percent to $180.03. (Rival comScore is set to release its Cyber Monday results on Wednesday)

Check Out Line: It’s the most worrisome time of the year


macys-black-friday-2009Check out U.S. consumers spending less.

More shoppers flocked to stores over the Thanksgiving weekend (like these shoppers heading into Macy’s at 5 a.m. on Black Friday).  However, they spent a lot less per person than last year.

And, in what could be a bad sign for credit card companies, a large chunk of them paid with cold, hard cash.

This year, a Christmas of blue jeans, not Blu-rays


As we mentioned on Shop Talk this morning, the National Retail Federation expects total holiday sales this year to fall 1 percent.

giftThe trade group held a conference call later in the day to add details about their forecast. Here is what NRF spokeswoman Ellen Davis said about the forces that will shape the upcoming holiday shopping season:

Check Out Line: A glimmer of holiday optimism


USA/Check Out this slightly more optimistic holiday sales forecast.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) said the 2009 U.S. holiday season is likely to be “a lot better” than last year, with sales rising roughly 1 to 2 percent.

The forecast, perhaps the most bullish yet, comes after a dismal 2008 holiday season that by some accounts was the worst in about 40 years.

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.