Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: No tax = more shopping


rulersCheck out the tax-free shopping spree.

Many states that levy sales tax on clothing offer a short break on the tax in the summer, which, in turn, spurs back-to-school shopping.

Ten states, including Virginia, offered shoppers a chance to buy tax-free last weekend, with most states offering a tax break on clothing up to $100 per item, FBR Capital Markets noted in a new report.

Their analysts saw “some of the strongest” surges this year in customers visiting stores and buying.

FBR Capital Markets said Aeropostale and Gap’s Old Navy were among the few stores it saw actually advertising the three-day discount.  Others hoped to benefit from word-of-mouth.

Friends, family and a note from the President (of


With retailers worried over the prospects for the holiday season (The Commerce Department said on Friday that retail sales slumped 2.8 percent in October — the largest decline since the department’s current methodology was adopted in 1992), they are expanding their definition of friends and family.

While “Friend & Family” sales used to be special events actually reserved for the friends and family members of a retailer’s employees, today it takes little more than an e-mail address to be considered a retailer’s friend.

Check Out Line: Old Navy listing


oldnavy.jpgCheck out Old Navy sales getting torpedoed from within.
There’s a lot of weakness out there as retailers report March sales today, with cold, wet weather keeping the already skittish consumer from the stores.
But one chain that stands out is Gap’s Old Navy division, which is looking more like McHale’s Navy than a mighty Armada.
The unit posted a 27-percent decline in same-store sales in March and at least some of the damage appears to be self-inflicted.
A company spokesman said on a recorded message that the brand has put too much emphasis on women’s fashion, at the expense of more basic items. He said the company plans to adjust the mix to achieve more of a balance.
But Old Navy has a tough course to navigate as it faces competition form a host of other brands that also sell basic apparel for the family, like shorts, cargo pants and T-shirts.
The company brought in well-known designer Todd Oldham last fall as creative director and in February the division’s president, Dawn Robertson, left Gap in what the company called a mutual decision. Tom Wyatt, president of Gap Inc’s outlet division, took over while a search for a permanent replacement was launched.
But will Old Navy’s new skipper find anything seaworthy?

Also in the basket:
Sales from Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Target, Aeropostale, Costco and others
JC Penney CEO doesn’t see US downturn ending soon
Rite Aid posts Q4 loss on charge; outlook disappoints