Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

from Raw Japan:

Retailers do the limbo

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JAPAN-ECONOMY/For some of Japan's retailers trying to jumpstart consumer spending, setting prices is like doing the limbo: How low can they go?

Japanese retailers reported mostly dismal first-half earnings results, with the industry stuck in a slump as shoppers remain reluctant to open their wallets even as the economy emerges from recession.

With no sales pick-up in sight, stores seem to have no choice but to continue their race to undercut rivals, with prices dropping for everything from cars to clothes to milk.

On the surface it sounds like a shopper's paradise: Who wouldn't mind paying less than 1,000 yen ($11) for a pair of jeans?

from Raw Japan:

Denim deflation

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James Dean smouldered in his, the Marlboro men looked rugged in theirs, and now me and hordes of other Japanese people can feel frugal in ours. Jeans -- practical, durable and with just a hint of  rebelliousness -- are at the centre of a price war in Japan, as struggling retailers look to lure cash-strapped customers back through their doors.

With the country slipping deeper into deflation and its jobless rate rising, shops have for some time been marking down almost everything from bags of cereal,  to laundry detergent and bicycles.

These jeans have staying power

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leviBy Nivedita Bhattacharjee.

That staple in women’s fashion just turned 75!

Levi Strauss & Co created the first 701 denims for women in 1934 (the iconic 501 for men came long before) as ranchwear. But the company’s women’s jeans are now as much a favorite with the hip and chic as with the more casual wearer.

The company is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its women’s jeans by arranging store events in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago — showing off women’s jeans and memorabilia from bygone eras as well as offering special discounts.

Pay rent, buy food, fill up tank … buy jeans?

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PERU/We know, dear fashionable readers, that, much as you like to look good in your jeans, the idea of shelling out $300 for said casual apparel item just doesn’t sit too well in a recession.
    
Apparently others think so, too, and premium denim maker True Religion might just be starting to notice.
    
Wedbush Morgan’s Jeff Mintz wrote on Thursday that consumer weakness was finally catching up to True Religion, which has been riding a long streak of popularity even as other apparel makers and retailers have been down in the dumps.
    
“Recent channel checks suggest slower business in the company’s retail stores,” Mintz wrote, adding that the change from October and November was “significant.”
    
“The post-Black Friday lull has left the stores much quieter and, we believe, could be a sign of slowing demand for the brand due to the difficult consumer economy,” he wrote.
 
Mintz cut his price target on shares to $17 from $23. Shares are down 35 percent since January.
    
True Religion raised its 2008 outlook last month, posting a 65 percent rise in third-quarter sales and a 76 percent rise in net income. But Mintz wrote that the company’s outlook was still achievable, despite what he called a lagging sportswear business due to relatively higher prices and “less compelling non-denim product.”

Ok, so maybe jeans are still recession-proof, but paying $172 for a hoodie? Maybe not so much.

Wal-Mart shows its strength on Black Friday

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Wal-Mart flexed its retail muscle on Black Friday to the delight of deal-seeking shoppers who spoke with our reporter Nicole Maestri in Columbia, Maryland.

Early bird buyers with shopping carts stuffed with toys, electronics and clothes stood 10 deep in checkout lines and the parking lot was packed with cars at 7:30 in the morning. In Valley Stream, Long Island, the crush turned tragic when a temp worker was killed by the crowd surging through a Wal-Mart’s doors.

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