Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Teens spending less, but super-rich still shopping


Check Out the sinking economy creeping into the lives of some of the most resilient shoppers — teenagers, whose need for fashion and fun often trandscends economic downturns.

shopper.jpgRising prices are forcing teens to cut back spending as their parents face mounting gas and food costs, declining home values and a credit crunch, according to a WSL Strategic Retail survey. 

“Clearly we have reached the final frontier of cost cutting. It doesn’t bode well for holiday 2008 when teens, the most demanding of our shopping citizens, are cutting back,” said WSL’s Chief Executive Wendy Liebmann.

Like their parents, teens are paring spending, with 35 percent buying less expensive clothing brands; 28 percent buying less expensive hair care and shaving products; 20 percent cutting back on salon manicures and haircuts; and 19 percent signing up for fewer sports and lessons, according to the survey.

Check Out Line: Tough Month for Retail


Check out disappointing September retail sales

Many U.S. retailers posted worse-than-expected sales at stores open at least a year on Wednesday, and some cut their profit outlooks and said things won’t improve anytime soon as consumers remain shaken by the financial crisis, job worries and the housing slump.

retail12.jpgDiscounter Wal-Mart Stores and warehouse clubs managed the best sales performances in September as shoppers sought bargains on necessities. Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, stood by its third quarter earnings forecast.

Check Out Line: Rite Aid drags down Jean Coutu results


eckerd.jpgCheck Out poor sales at U.S. pharmacy chain Rite Aid dragging down quarterly results at Jean Coutu Group, the Canadian drugstore chain that owns about a third of Rite Aid and reported its quarterly results today.

Jean Coutu, which is required by Canadian law to include Rite Aid’s results with its own, reported a steep second-quarter loss of 16 Canadian cents a share for the quarter ended Aug. 30, compared with a profit of 3 Canadian cents a share for the comparable quarter last year.  ($1=$1.08 Canadian)

Saks goes Canadian, eh


saks.jpgCanadian fashionistas will now be able to order from, as the luxury department store bids to snatch part of the estimated US$16 billion Canadian market for online retail goods.

This is the first time orders submitted on will be shipped outside the United States, says Saks spokeswoman Julia Bentley.

Do you multi-channel?


best-buy.jpgShoppers hunting for consumer electronics are the most likely to visit both brick-and-mortar stores and the Internet while deciding which product to buy, according to a new study.

The IBM Global Business Services study of consumers in both the United States and United Kingdom found that multi-channel shoppers, or people who regularly participate in more than one method of shopping, are usually looking for apparel, accessories, footwear, home improvement items and appliances, in addition to electronics.

Check Out Line: And your card can sing!


greeting-card.jpgCheck Out American Greetings saying people are buying more greeting cards that play music or blink lights when you open them.

Those kinds of cards cost more for American Greetings to produce, so the company nets less profit per card compared to a traditional greeting card that might quietly pronounce ”I love you” without an accompanying musical arrangement.

Christmas is coming early this year, but not at Starbucks


starbucksholiday.JPG Christmas may be starting early for many retailers, but that isn’t the case at Starbucks.

While department stores like Macy’s are already in full holiday mode — hoping to get a jump on what is expected to be a dismal holiday season — the Seattle coffee shop chain is waiting until after Halloween and after Thanksgiving to serve up its holiday cheer.

Check Out Line: Old gift cards boost Neiman Marcus


neiman-marcus.jpgCheck Out luxury department store Neiman Marcus saying their sales took a hit as even wealthy customers feel the pinch of the troubled U.S. economy, although the quarter was somewhat bolstered by customers digging out old gift cards.

Neiman Marcus‘ quarterly sales dropped 4.9 percent to $1.03 billion and comparable-store sales were down 1.4 percent.

Check Out Line: Frosty holiday sales ahead


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.

Check Out Line: Bloomingdale’s to open in Dubai


bloomingdales.jpgCheck Out Macy’s opening up shop in Dubai.

Two Bloomingdale’s department stores are scheduled to open in the United Arab Emirates’ largest city in February 2010. Macy’s, which owns the Bloomingdale’s chain, says the store’s merchandise and upscale ambiance will be similar to Bloomingdale’s in the U.S., while being ”sensitive to local preferences and customs” of the oil-rich states.

In another sign the Middle East remains a robust market for foreign retail brands, Kuwaiti retailer Villa Moda is partnering with the Dubai International Financial Center, which is owned by the Dubai government. The DIFC is buying a majority stake in Villa Moda, which operates seven multibrand shops in the Gulf region and offers high-luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana.