Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: The retail contraction continues

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ITALY-FASHION/Check out job cuts in retail spreading across the globe.

Last week, Neiman Marcus and Saks outlined plans to cut jobs. On Monday, it was Europe’s turn to join the fray.

Metro AG,  Germany’s top listed retailer, plans to cut 15,000 jobs or about 5 percent of its global workforce by 2012 amid a broader restructuring program, a source close to the company told Reuters on Tuesday. The company, which owns supermarkets and department stores, employs about 300,000 people in 2,200 stores across 32 countries.

Meanwhile, British luxury goods firm Burberry announced up to $49 million of savings, including 540 job losses in the UK and Spain.

Burberry beat forecasts with a 9 percent rise in third-quarter revenue, helped by deep discounting. But the 153-year-old maker of upmarket raincoats and handbags said double-digit percentage growth in Asia and most of Europe was offset by a double-digit decline in the United States and a fall of over 20 percent in Spain.

Recession Sells: Slashing prices, outlet-style

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Outlet malls are known for their low prices, but the discounts being offered this weekend at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley NY, roughly 45 miles north of Manhattan, were truly eye-popping.

From Geoffrey Beene to Izod to Van Heusen, store windows were plastered with signs offering 40 to 60 to 75 percent off:

Early or late — Thanksgiving shift doesn’t phase Wal-Mart

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Retailers say it can be difficult to measure their monthly sales results accurately on a year-over-year basis because of calendar shifts — sometimes a holiday falls in one month, boosting results, while the next year the holiday shifts into a different month, hurting results.

The most drastic case of this is usually seen in March and April, when the timing of the Easter holiday can help March sales and hurt April, or vice versa.

Manolo Blahniks for cheap(ish)

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Luxury lives! At least when it’s on sale.Today’s Manolo Blahnik sample sale brought out New York fashionistas looking for fabulous shoes on the cheap, and given the woeful state of the economy this year, they need it more than ever. The sale is typically held twice a year and is not widely publicized. Shoes that typically priced from $545 to over $1150 for tall suede boots were on sale from $100 for a simple pair of pumps to $400 for over-the-knee boots. Manolo Blahnik sends out an e-mail to their best customers and press friends, such as Vogue editors, who then tell their friends, and thus the word gets out.Most shoppers at the sale told us they will still buy luxury items like expensive shoes. But they are being more cautious and buying less these days.Cynthia Tabet of New York City said she buys new Manolos “every year,” but this year bought fewer pairs. “You’re tempted, but not as much” since the stock market tanked, she said.  Tabet’s still on the fence about holiday purchases and is waiting to see if the economy picks up before buying.Picking through the piles of Manolos, Maria Jaqez of NYC also said she was “more cautious than usual,” but expected her holiday shopping to be “the same as last year.”Throwing caution to the wind was Tina Rich, also of NYC. The Cartier employee said she didn’t care about the ups and down of the stock market. “I’m just a little person, it doesn’t effect me!” she said cheerily, as she scooped up several pairs of pumps. “I wear Manolo’s and Dolce, that’s it.”(Photo/Reuters)

Check Out Line: Who needs foreign tourists? Luxury chains have Palin!

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palin11.jpgCheck Out Alaska Gov. and hockey mom Sarah Palin, who’s not only John McCain’s vice presidential pick, but a luxury fashion maverick.

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 since late August to outfit Palin and her family in the fanciest of duds from department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus, says politico.com.

Saks goes Canadian, eh

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saks.jpgCanadian fashionistas will now be able to order from Saks.com, 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 Saks.com will be shipped outside the United States, says Saks spokeswoman Julia Bentley.

So goes Wall Street, so goes Fifth Avenue retailers

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santasaks.jpgThe fallout from the turmoil on Wall Street will be felt by retailers who have set up shop on one of Manhattan’s most prestigious avenues – Fifth Avenue.

In the past week, Lehman has failed, Merrill Lynch agreed to be acquired by Bank of America, and the government had to step in to keep giant insurer AIG from failing.

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