Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Sweet December, for most


Snow outside Victoria's SecretCheck out the better-than-expected sales at several U.S. retailers.

Apparently all of that snow and the less drastic discounts did not keep shoppers awayfrom stores such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bath and Body Works or T.J. Maxx.

Of course, some retailers bucked the trend.  Abercrombie & Fitch’s sales plunged even more than anticipated.  Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble and its old ally GameStop were forced to cut their quarterly profit forecasts after holiday sales at their stores fell short of their hopes.

Also in the basket:

A Clothing Clearance Where More Than Just the Prices Have Been Slashed (New York Times)

Olay Highlights P&G’s Push to Extend Brands (Wall Street Journal)

Bed Bath & Beyond optimistic as shoppers return

(Reuters photo)

Check Out Line: Moment of truth about holiday sales


XMASCheck out the upbeat but cautious forecasts for holiday sales in the U.S. and the U.K. ahead of their release later this week.

Most U.S. retailers are set to post December sales later this week and let us know just how much better things have gotten since the disastrous 2008 holiday season. They’ll need all the good news they can get — holiday sales can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales.

Not even online sales can save J.C. Penney’s November


jcpThe going continued to be tough in November for U.S. retailers. Most reported disappointing sales at their stores open for at least a year in a month that kicked off the decisive holiday season.

J.C.  Penney reported that same store sales fell 5.9 percent last month compared to a year earlier. But more worryingly, J.C. Penney’s online sales fell 7.7 percent in November even as many rivals have reported internet sales that helped mitigate weakness in their stores.

Check Out Line: If Hot Topic is any indication, November won’t be so hot


doorbustCheck out the disappointing November sales results coming in early Wednesday morning.

Teen clothing retailer Hot Topic posted an 11.7 percent drop in November sales at stores open at least a year — worse than its own estimate of a decline of 8 percent to 11 percent.

Affluent Chinese help Tiffany make up for stingy US shoppers


tif1Normally double-digit sales declines don’t cheer investors.

But shares of jewelry chain Tiffany & Co rose 4 percent on Wednesday even though it reported that sales at its U.S. stores open for at least a year (“same-store-sales” in industry parlance) fell 10 percent in the third quarter. 

True, much of the hemorrhaging seems to have subsided since last year’s gruesome holiday fourth quarter when U.S. same-store sales fell 33 percent, and November is off to a promising start.

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.

Check Out Line: Holiday doldrums?


RETAILTRAFFIC/Check out the latest retail forecast.

The National Retail Federation expects U.S. holiday sales to fall for the second consecutive year, but this year’s drop should not be as steep as it was last year.

The retail industry trade group expects retail sales in November and December combined to slip 1 percent to $437.6 billion.  Last year, such sales fell 3.4 percent to $441.97 billion.

Check Out Line: How will September sales look?


Check out one analyst’s view on September sales for some retailers.USA-HOLIDAYSALES/

Sales for the month of September may have gotten off to a strong start for some retailers thanks to the Labor Day holiday and schools opening in the beginning of the month, but likely lost some steam after that, according to a note from Barclays Capital analyst Jeff Black.

Black’s coverage includes teen retailers and off-price store operators such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Gap Inc, TJX Cos and Ross Stores.

Check Out Line: Bringing back discretionary spending


costco-shopperCheck out analysts’ calls on middle and upper income shoppers.

Thursday’s sales reports showed that some consumers have started to buy their little luxuries again, a trend retail industry experts say is crucial for sales to rebound this fall and winter.

Michael Koskuba, Portfolio Manager for Victory Capital Management‘s Victory Large Gap Growth Fund, recommended that investors look into discount names with a discretionary bent, such as Target, which he owns in his fund.

Check Out Line: Down but not out


clothing-racksCheck out the latest news on U.S. retail sales.

The trend was pretty much the same as it has been lately — most chains posted declines in August sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales.

However, many declines were not all that bad and there were a handful of increases, which could be a sign that consumers are really back to shopping.