Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Merger made in retail (trade group) heaven

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nrfThe National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association are joining forces.

The competing trade groups say they will merge to create a single association to represent retail interests in Washington DC. 

“The challenges and opportunities before our members are unprecedented. Now is the right time to bring these associations together,” said RILA Chairman, Robert Niblock, CEO of Lowe’s Cos, and NRF Chairman Mike Ullman, CEO of J.C. Penney, in a joint statement.

Currently, retailers are lobbying lawmakers against passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. The pending bill would let workers decide whether to unionize by signing a petition or by holding a secret-ballot election. Employers can now require a secret ballot. rila

Check Out Line: A little less love this Valentine’s Day

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ITALY/Check out retail executives’ worries coming true.

At the National Retail Federation’s annual convention earlier this month, retail executives and analysts said they were worried there would be no big event to get consumers back into the stores and get them shopping until the back-to-school season.

Still recovering from the holiday spending and watching jobs evaporate by the day, it appears consumers don’t intend to jump back into shopping for Valentine’s Day, the first main holiday since Christmas.

Sales tax holidays to the rescue?

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What’s one way to get reluctant shoppers back into the stores? Give them a sales tax holiday — or two or three.

That’s what the National Retail Federation is urging the government to consider as part of the economic stimulus plan being debated in Washington.ECONOMY-DOLLAR/PIZZA

Sorting through Black Friday data

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Black Friday has come and gone but what on earth happened at the cash registers over the Thanksgiving weekend? The data is trickling in, and so are the early critiques. (See our previous blogs: Treat Black Friday reports cautiously and Black Friday data spurs more questions than answers)

Here is a break down of the latest reports and what data is still to come:

National Retail Federation:

According its 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch and published on Sunday, the NRF said more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend (which includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projections for Sunday), up from 147 million shoppers last year. 

Gift cards: distressed assets, holiday-style

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Holiday gift cards are feeling a lot less like the gift that keeps on giving.

Over the past few years, gift card popularity exploded and retailers rushed to display new merchandise the day after Christmas, hoping to attract shoppers flush with new cards.

Retailers could count on consumers to splurge on full-priced merchandise or spend all the money on the card, plus a few dollars more.

Check Out Line: Frosty holiday sales ahead

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holiday.jpgCheck out forecasts for small gains in holiday sales.

The National Retail Federation forecasts that U.S. holiday sales this year will rise 2.2 percent to $470.4 billion as consumers grapple with rising unemployment, and higher food and grocery costs.

That would mark the smallest gain since 2002, when retail sales rose 1.3 percent as a slumping economy and job woes also weighed on sentiment.

Drug stores top hot list with acquisitions

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(Due to a tabulation error in the research, STORES Magazine has issued a corrected list. This is being corrected to remove Coldwater Creek from the Top 10 list and replace it with Citi Trends at No. 10) 

cvs.jpgThough the retail industry cooled last year to its slowest growth since 2002, a number of retail companies experienced fiery growth, according to the National Retail Federation. The hottest retailers, in general, grew through acquisitions, according to the trade group’s STORES Magazine.

Soaring gas prices sinking consumer spending, sentiment

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The average price for gasoline soared 6.9 cents over the last week to a record of $3.79 a gallon. That means the national price for regular, self-service gasoline is now up 57 cents from a year ago, according to data relased by the federal Energy Information Administration on Monday.

With personal income stagnating, consumers are finding it hard to offset the ongoing spike in gas prices.

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