Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Frugality — Part Two?


shopCheck out the apparent return of the frugalista.

Worries about stubbornly high U.S. unemployment and a tempermental economic recovery has shoppers reeling in spending on all but the essentials.

The 28 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters reported an overall 2.9 percent rise in July sales at stores open at least one year, missing Wall Street forecasts of 3.1 percent. Seventeen of those retailers reported lower-than-expected sales, while nine — including Macy’s and Kohl’s — beat estimates.

“We are now in an environment where the dollars in consumers’ pockets are fewer, so the competition for those dollars has increased,” said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Clover Investment Advisors.

U.S. consumer sentiment hit its lowest level in nine months in July on bleak prospects for jobs and income, according to Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers.  On Thursday, the government reported that new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose in the latest week.

Check Out Line: Department stores ready to duke it out


JCPenneyCheck out department stores’ forecasts coming in below expectations as they try to gain market share.

On Friday, JC Penney became the latest chain to issue outlook that falls a little bit short of what Wall Street had already expected.

Check Out Line: Easter bounce


Check out how high March retail sales bounced off last year’s weak results — and how April sales are expected to falter.

bunnyMarch same-store sales topped expectations for retailers ranging from teen-focused stores to discounters and department stores, helped by an early Easter, warmer weather and a recovering job market.

Check Out Line: Madonna goes back-to-school


Check out the big M’s: Madonna and Macy’s. ROMANIA/

What could possibly say “back-to-school”  more in 2010 than a fashion line named after song released in 1985.

That’s what licensing and marketing firm Iconix is developing for Macy’s, in collaboration with rock icon Madonna and her daughter, Lourdes.

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: Macy’s starts retail earnings parade


Check out Macy’s disappointing fourth-quarter forecast. USA/

Apparently, the Thanksgiving Day Parade may be the highlight of the quarter.

The department store chain operator forecast fourth-quarter profit below analysts estimates and its shares fell Wednesday morning.

The retailer also expects same-store sales to drop 1 percent to 2 percent in the quarter.  While that is less of a decline than the full year, it is also off a pretty easy comparison.  Same-store sales fell 7 percent in the year-earlier fourth quarter, when the country was waist deep in a recession and credit crunch.

Check Out Line: Growing Penney’s-Macy’s rivalry


macys1Check out the growing J.C. Penney-Macy’s rivalry.

Liz Claiborne’s plan, announced last week, to sell its namesake sportswear only at Penney stores and on a TV shopping network will end a decades-long tie between the Claiborne franchise and Macy’s.

The deal will give Penney more exclusive products, guarantee revenue and profits for Claiborne and free up Macy’s to better differentiate itself as its customer base increasingly overlaps with Penney’s, analysts and consultants said.

Check Out Line: Retailers’ ad strategies face “Tipping point”


newspaperCheck out the quickly shifting media landscape putting retailers’ ad strategies at risk.

In a research note this week, Credit Suisse analyst Michael Exstein examined what changes in the media world mean for retailers who are used to reaching consumers through traditional channels — like the newspaper.

Check Out Line: Earnings-palooza!


macys1Check out all the earnings in the consumer world.

Several retailers and food companies posted quarterly results, offering different views on where they stand in a recession that has consumers dialing back spending.

Macy’s posted a better-than-expected profit as it cut costs, but the department store operator’s new, higher earnings forecast shows full-year profit could still fall short of analysts’ expectations.

Check Out Line: July pain for retailers


Check out the continuing struggle in the retail world.USA/

U.S. retailers reported disappointing sales declines for July, suggesting shoppers are still searching for bargains and basics in the downturn.    

July’s results mark the 11th consecutive month of falling sales at stores open for at least one year, a measure known as same-store sales.