Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Odd woman in

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simone-bagel-trahSimone Bagel-Trah bucks the trend.  The number of women on German company top-level board posts — low to begin with in Europe’s largest economy – is dropping.  In steps Bagel-Trah. The slender blonde will become the first supervisory board chairwoman at a German blue chip. On Tuesday, she takes over the helm at glue-to-detergents maker Henkel .

 The doctor of microbiology will also head the shareholders’
committee which represents the Henkel family members who hold
about 52 percent in the creator of Persil detergent.

But the 40 year old great-great-granddaughter of the Henkel
founder is not the pioneer many would like to see in her.

“She basically helps to manage her own fortune. It’s a
family job,” said Hagen Lindstaedt, head of the Institute of
Management at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Check Out Line-Retail sector racks up more bad news

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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.

Everything is on sale, even franchises

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(updates with day offer began)              

gncRetail workers need a pick me up these days after brutal holiday sales, rising unemployment and bleak expectations for 2009.  One chain is offering its own spoonful of medicine, in a way.

GNC, which sells vitamins and supplements at more than 6,200 stores (often with buy one, get one 50 percent off promotions), is offering a 25 percent discount on its initial franchise fee to retail workers who have lost their jobs.  The fee is normally $40,000 for new franchisees, so the deal brings it down to $30,000.

Check Out Line: Mother Nature matters more than ever

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rain2.jpgCheck out the cool and wet weather that hit U.S. retailers in September as the month will go into the books as the fifth coolest in the last seven years and much cooler than last year, according to Planalytics Inc, a business weather tracking company.

While the mean September temperature in the 96 largest U.S. metro areas fell about 4 points from last year to 64.2 degrees, retailers selling rainwear (demand up 29 percent based purely on weather), pants (up 13 percent), dehumidifiers (up 10 percent) and hot cereal (up 2 percent) benefited, Planalytics said.

Check Out Line: Boscov’s sold to private equity

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boscovs.jpgCheck Out private equity gobbling up department store chain Boscov’s Department Store LLC, one of the latest retailers to get into trouble as customers reduce spending.

Boscov’s, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, has agreed to sell most of its assets to private equity firm Versa Capital Management Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

Check Out Line: Are you ready for some (more expensive) football?

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Check out what it costs National Football League fans to attend games.

The latest NFL season got under way Thursday night as the defending Super Bowl giants.jpgchampion New York Giants opened their season with a win (pictured right). For their fans, there were some changes that affected their wallets.

The average ticket price to attend an NFL game rose almost 8 percent to $72.20, according to Team Marketing Report, a Chicago-area sports marketing firm. And if a family of four wants to take in a game played by the Giants, get ready to shell out almost $500 for tickets, beers, hot dogs and other items.

Check Out Line: Mixed messages from retailers

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Check out retailers’ profits and forecasts.

A discerning shopper, or investor for that matter, could browse the aisles of the retail financial world and come away with very different messages on the strength of the U.S. economy depending on which company’s results they chose.

default-2.jpgOn the plus side,  upscale jeweler Tiffany posted a better-than-expected profit and raised its full-year outlook, although that was driven by strong sales overseas. Tiffany expects U.S. same-store sales to return to growth in the fourth quarter. Shoe and hat retailer Genesco, and home-appliance and consumer-electronics retailer Conn’s also topped Wall Street’s views and boosted their forecasts.

Fighting the fugly jean

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jeans.jpgAmerican Eagle is fighting a fickle foe: fugly jeans.

What makes jeans sit on the shelf instead of flying off the shelves? That’s up to the whims of American Eagle’s 15- to 25-year old target customer. The retailer’s summer offerings didn’t quite meet the expectations of its core audience, and sales suffered.

“We had a number of styles that just did not perform. And that hurt us very, very much,” American Eagle’s Chief Executive Jim O’Donnell said on a call with analysts.

Check Out Line: The short-lived tax rebate boost

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sale.jpgCheck out the fading influence of tax rebate checks.

Tax rebate checks helped boost June retail sales but their influence appears to have petered out by July, according to data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday.

The figures showed that total sales at U.S. retailers declined 0.1 percent in July, which was in line with forecasts made by Wall Street economists. A big reason for the drop was a fall off in auto sales. Auto and auto parts sales fell 2.4 percent in the month, their biggest drop since April, and were off a whopping 10.5 percent from year-ago levels. 

Check Out Line: Talbots’ makeover includes board

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talbots3.jpgCheck out the majority owner of Talbots exerting more control.

The women’s apparel retailer, which has endured hardships in recent months including falling sales, job cuts, an executive departure and a credit problem, said on Thursday that Tsutomu Kajita would become chairman of its board.

Kajita is senior vice president of international operations for Japan’s Aeon Co, Talbots’ majority owner.

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