Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Luxury apparel, redefined


Save Fashion

American luxury retail has been, well, in shambles.

Since department store revenues began to plummet in September, luxury’s glossy image transformed to one that brings to mind strewn-about merchandise on a Saks Fifth Avenue floor.

Pricing structures have come under pressure as shoppers seek deep discounts, or worse, question price guidelines after aggressive reductions at the end of last year.  In the spring, markdowns crept dangerously close to the start of the season.  Clearly, discounts really are not what designers want their labels to be known for.

“For younger, newer designers, image is everything,” said fashion consulting firm Launch Collective’s Rob Spira, who recently co-curated the New York City Save Fashion pop-up shop to celebrate independent designers.

“Before, designers were coming to us for ideas to build funding,” Spira told Reuters at the Save Fashion store, which popular style Web site Refinery29 also co-curated.  “Now they’re looking for creative ways to sustain in this kind of environment.”

Which retailer’s ads does Macy’s CEO want to overtake?


It’s Target.MACYS/

Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren professed his admiration for Target‘s advertising tactics at a consumer conference in New York.

Macy’s ran two back-to-back ad campaigns late last year, which included the “Believe” ads based on the famous New York Sun’s “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial.

Check Out Line-Retail sector racks up more bad news


Check out the not-so-chipper news in the retail world.

bk1Restaurant chain Burger King reported lower profits and cut its full-year forecast due to the currency fluctuations, while cosmetics and perfume companies Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden rang up lower, albeit better-than-expected, profits and said they would cut jobs.

Indeed, retailers overall posted the second weakest monthly same-store sales performance since Thomson Reuters began tracking the data in 2000 as heavy job losses, weakness in the U.S. housing sector and the still-tight credit markets have many consumers closing their wallets.

from MacroScope:

Crouching Buyer, Hidden Bargain

The terrible U.S. retail sales  racked up in December -- called a "horror show" by ING -- were all the more gruesome because of the sales on offer to customers in the run up to Christmas. Shops weren't exactly giving things away, but their generosity knew few bounds.

Consider the experience of one visitor to a heaving handbag department in a Maryland Macy's.
    Customer: "I would like to buy this handbag please. Oh dear, it appears to be the only one that is not on sale."
    Salesman: "So it is. Tell you what, sir, I'll give you 15 percent off anyway."

Check Out Line: December sales slump


Check Out the drop in sales.

It was no surprise that sales were weak in December, though some retailers stood out Thursday for their worse-than-expected performance.

WALMART/Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose just 1.7 percent, while analysts were expecting a 2.8 percent increase.  Wal-Mart and other chains such as Macy’s cut guidance for the fourth quarter ending later this month.
Shares of Wal-Mart fell more than 9 percent on Thursday morning, dragging the Dow Jones industrial average into negative territory as well.

Recession Sells: Chicago’s dinosaurs


On Chicago’s State Street, I found these dinosaurs creeping up on a Christmas tree at the FAO Schwarz section inside Macy’s:

Moving on to an empty TV section in Sears:

At Sears, Christmas decorations were already 60 percent off:

And at Charlotte Russe, more discounts:

Check Out Line: This week in retail wasn’t pretty


Check out a stream of extremely sobering news from – and for – retailers.

This week, quarterly reports came in from Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, JC PenneyCharlotte Russe, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Macy’s celebrates the next 150 years


Macy’s is still finding ways to celebrate in what could be a dark winter for retail this year. Customers entering Macy’s flagship store in New York City’s Herald Square it opened today were met by the pounding beats of the Soul Tigers Marching Band, lots of red balloons and a barrel full of exploding ribbons.  

CEO Terry Lundgren was there cutting a ribbon promising another 150 years for the department store, to tack onto its current 150th birthday. A gaggle of employees sang “Happy Birthday Macy’s!”, threw confetti and danced.

Check Out Line: Who needs foreign tourists? Luxury chains have Palin!


palin11.jpgCheck Out Alaska Gov. and hockey mom Sarah Palin, who’s not only John McCain’s vice presidential pick, but a luxury fashion maverick.

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 since late August to outfit Palin and her family in the fanciest of duds from department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus, says

Check Out Line: Economy rains on Macy’s parade


macys.jpgCheck Out Macy’s slashing its 2008 profit outlook as it eyes the gathering storm clouds ahead.

Macy’s, which also runs the Bloomingdale’s chain, is the latest retailer to see consumers shy away from purchases of new fall clothes as they try to stay afloat in the economic downturn. Several clothing chains and department stores posted dismal September same-store sales earlier this week.