Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Forecast calls for early Christmas shopping


holiday-window-shoppingCheck out who is shopping early for Christmas.
U.S. consumer are, according to a new Accenture survey, which showed that 69 percent of shoppers plan to do the bulk of their holiday shopping by Dec. 7.  That’s up from 60 percent a year earlier.
More than half (52 percent), plan to shop on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), up from 42 percent last year.
The game of chicken between retailers and shoppers over discounts may be more intense this year after retailers had to practically give the store away in 2008 to clear inventory in the middle of the recession.
The vast majority of consumers (86 percent) will not be moved to buy without a discount of at least 20 percent, and a quarter of shoppers will be looking for an aggressive 50 percent discount before they open their wallets, the survey said.
“We have seen a ‘shift to thrift’ across all income levels during this economic downturn and breaking that habit will be the greatest challenge for retailers this holiday season,” Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice, said in a news release.
Gift cards may also come back, with 79 percent of people saying they will give them and 59 percent saying they really want them.
Also in the basket:
Cadbury’s bumper Q3 puts pressure on suitor Kraft
Altria revenue misses estimates
P.F. Chang’s profit misses; ups ’09 outlook

(Reuters photo)

Check Out Line: Another bleak holiday forecast


Check Out a new survey by market research firm NPD Group that says this year’s winter holiday will USA-ECONOMY/be better than last year’s but still not that merry. 

Thirty percent of consumers who responded to the survey said they planned to spend less on holiday gifts this year, up from 26 percent last year.

Check Out Line: Flashback to … yesterday


Check out the ongoing debate about September’s same-store sales results and how the numbers beat expectations.

tgtYesterday, we found out that September same-store sales rose 0.6 percent, surpassing a forecast for a decline of 1.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. When all was said and done, 78 percent of retailers that report monthly same-store sales posted results that beat Wall Street estimates, also according to Thomson Reuters.

Liz picks Penney; Isaac takes TV


mizrahiJC Penney stores in the United States and Puerto Rico are going exclusive with Liz Claiborne Inc’s namesake brand and celebrity designer Isaac Mizrahi will sell his upscale Liz Claiborne New York line only on QVC, a TV shopping network.

The moves from Liz Claiborne were seen by some as a downward shift to mass-market retail channels and came as department store orders for Liz Claiborne’s products have fallen during what has become the longest recession since the Great Depression.

A brighter view doesn’t lead to increased spending


paying-billAmericans may have become more confident in the economy but they haven’t started spending heavily again — and that could be bad new for retailers this holiday season.

Discover’s U.S. Spending Monitor for September rose for the second straight month, climbing 2 points to 89 (based out of 100).  Thirty-three percent of respondents said they felt economic conditions were improving, a Monitor high and a 2-point rise from August.

Check Out Line: A glimmer of holiday optimism


USA/Check Out this slightly more optimistic holiday sales forecast.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) said the 2009 U.S. holiday season is likely to be “a lot better” than last year, with sales rising roughly 1 to 2 percent.

The forecast, perhaps the most bullish yet, comes after a dismal 2008 holiday season that by some accounts was the worst in about 40 years.

Check Out Line: No prescription for sluggish sales


WALGREEN/Check out the sluggish sales at Walgreen.
People filled more prescriptions at the drugstore chain, but didn’t buy much else.  August same-store sales rose only 1.9 percent, less than analysts had anticipated.
While many retailers have been experiencing sales declines, drugstores have generally done much better because an aging population  has been buying more prescriptions drugs.
But Walgreen’s sales of general merchandise fell 1.3 percent.
That could be a bad sign for other retailers that report sales this week. Walgreen is the third-largest retailer that reports monthly sales, behind only Costco and Target.
Overall, analysts are expecting a 3.8 percent drop in same-store sales when retailers report this week.
Also in the basket:
Zale identifies prior adjustments, delays results
Jos A Bank Q2 results top Street

Brown-Forman profit tops view
Tesco uses weather to predict sales (N.Y. Times)
Retail theft soars in economic downturn (WWD, subscription required)

(Reuters photo)

It’s trade show time and apparel eyes are on spring


magic-0011 The MAGIC apparel trade show, the largest clothing convention in the country, is again being held in sweltering Las Vegas but the organizers, at least, are feeling cool.

“Everything is up, exhibitors are up 15 percent. It’s wonderful news for the industry,” said Chris DeMoulin, president of MAGIC International, organizer of the bi-annual event.

Check Out Line: Retail profits surprise, but still down


Check out the Retail Metrics earnings snapshot. ARCANDOR/

About two-thirds of the way through the second-quarter earnings season, retailers are beating earnings expectations by 5.1 percent on average, the research firm said.

But those were pretty low expectations and earnings are still down 6.4 percent compared with a year earlier. It is even worse when Wal-Mart is excluded. Then earnings are down 9.8 percent, Retail Metrics said.

Check Out Line: Lazard looks at fashion


Check out what’s hot in fall fashion. 
Lazard Capital Markets looked at 10 September fashion magazines and identified these trends:
Boots, with Jones Apparel getting seven call-outs in the magazines.JAPAN
Skinny denim and leggings, both getting play with looser, less form-fitting tops.
Motorcycle jackets, military jackets, trench coats, sheath dresses and one-shoulder tops.
Also, “studs appear everywhere in clothing and accessories, including handbags, belts, shoes, dresses.”
Companies best capitalizing on the various trends include Jones, Gap, American Eagle and Guess, among others, Lazard said in a research note.
We were going to toss in a kicker of some fashion trend that is never coming back.  But face it, they all seem to come back at some point.  We expect to pull out our Members Only jackets any day now.
Also in the basket:
Tween Brands Q2 loss narrower than expected

BJ’s Wholsesale profit beats Street, raises FY view 

Popcorn, a hidden source of antioxidants, study says (ABC News)

(Reuters photo from 2004, because leggings always come back)