Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: NRF says Americans plan to get their pumpkin on


pumpkin1Check out the spending boost planned by Americans for Halloween.

The National Retail Federation said spending by the 148 million Americans who partake in the “spooky” October holiday is expected to surge almost 18 percent this year as revelers look for any reason not to think about high unemployment and a shaky housing market.

“In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes,”  NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

“This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday,” he added. 

Americans will spend an average of $66.28 on costumes, candy and decorations (or a total of $5.8 billion), up from last year’s average of $56.31. However, that is still short of the $66.54 spent in 2008, according to the study conducted by BIGresearch for the NRF. Retailers love Halloween because it comes between the back-to-school and December holidays in luring consumers into stores.

Check Out Line: US online retailers dialing up mobile apps


phone1Check out the increasing appetite for mobile applications among U.S. online retailers.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of online retailers either already have or are developing a mobile strategy and one out of every five has a fully implemented mobile strategy already in place, according to a study from Forrester Research and, the National Retail Federation’s digital division.

Check Out Line: Retailers don’t see yuan move as all bad


yuan1Check out what retailers are thinking about China’s revaluation of the yuan.

Western retailers may pay more for goods they import from China as the yuan appreciates, but the flip side is that the move may create significant selling opportunities by putting more money in the pockets of consumers in the world’s biggest market. 

Retailers eye some expansion in 2010


TIFFANYAfter their abysmal 2009, nearly half of all U.S. retail chains plan on at least maintaining their number of stores this year, according to a survey released on Thursday by consultancy KPMG and industry group the National Retail Federation.

Far more retailers were planning to open stores than close them, according to the survey of 310 retail industry executives, representing 138 companies, conducted late last year.

Check Out Line: Magic 8 ball says better year for retail


shop1Check out a prediction for increased U.S. retail sales this year.

The National Retail Federation said U.S. retail sales should rise 2.5 percent this year, signaling that stores have made it through the worst of the downturn as improvements in the housing and job markets bolster shoppers’ confidence.

The projected increase would be a step up from a 2.5 percent decline last year and 1.3 percent increase in 2008, NRF said.

Check Out Line: A container in every port?


port1Check out the expected increase early next year in import cargo volume at U.S. retail container ports.

The numbers could rise year-over-year in February, for the first increase in more than two years, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and IHS Global Insight.

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:

Wowing students with indigo laptops, blue flash drives


The National Retail Federation has issued its 2009 back-to-school spending survey and the results show that the ringing of school bells won’t necessarily translate into the happy ringing of cash registers.

But the one part of stores where parents and students expect to boost their spending despite the ongoing recession is electronics.

Check Out Line: Less money for pencils and school books


students1Check out the expected lower spending on back-to-school items.

Parents plan to spend less money on back-to-school gear for their children this year in another worrisome sign for retailers heading into what is normally their second biggest selling period behind Christmas.

The average family with children in kindergarten through 12th grade is expected to spend $548.72 on back-to-school merchandise this year, down 7.7 percent from 2008, according to the National Retail Federation.

The recession strikes again


jeans1The recession hammered U.S. holiday sales last year and new research suggests that it also drove up ”shrink” — a retail industry term for shoplifting, employee theft, and administrative errors.

An estimated $36.5 billion was lost to “shrink” in 2008, according to preliminary findings from the latest National Retail Security Survey released today.