Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Recession Sells: Chicago’s dinosaurs


On Chicago’s State Street, I found these dinosaurs creeping up on a Christmas tree at the FAO Schwarz section inside Macy’s:

Moving on to an empty TV section in Sears:

At Sears, Christmas decorations were already 60 percent off:

And at Charlotte Russe, more discounts:

Kmart cites boost from early deals, layaway


Retailer Kmart says early Black Friday specials and its layaway plan are generating interest from consumers who want to stretch their dollars this holiday season.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally marks the start of holiday shopping.

Sears adds stores away from the mall


Sears, Roebuck is looking to grow home-goods sales by adding stores away from malls as shoppers flock to new retail centers.

That off-mall strategy includes more dealer stores located in smaller, rural markets, and home appliance showrooms in big cities.

Sears to offer virtual dressing room


Sears, Roebuck, looking to engage shoppers in new ways, is embracing a 3-D Web technology that will allow shoppers to try on clothes virtually from its Web site in an effort to replicate the in-store dressing room experience.

sears1.jpgThe retailer this week said it is partnering with IBM and My Virtual Model , a Montreal creator of virtual identity products, to revamp its site so that consumers can search for clothing items by clicking on images and try on garments virtually.

Sears sets up its own Fashion tent, hopes to wow the crowds


sears.jpgThe big white tent that houses New York City’s Fashion Week was joined by another, smaller tent on Wednesday. Set up behind the main event, in a corner of Bryant Park, Sears erected what it calls a “lifestyle exhibit.” Also housed under a white tent, the meandering exhibit was meant to showcase Sears’  brands – well-established names such as Kenmore appliances and more recent products like a new clothing line by rapper LL Cool J.

The tent was divided into rooms with themes like “Alpha Dog” that featured a DieHard motorcycle, and “Boho Grunge,” that had mannequins playing Rock Band.

Check Out Line: Mixed messages from retailers


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.

Rapper finds a new passion in apparel


Rapper LL Cool J says he is just as passionate about selling a new clothing line at Sears as he is about his music.

His casual wear collection, to be rolled out at 450 Sears stores on Sept. 7, features clothes for men, women and children. Prices start at $24 for T-shirts, $50 for jeans and $60 for outerwear.

Room for home improvement retail


acesmall.gifHome improvement consumers have spoken, and their choice of top retailer might surprise you.

Ace Hardware, the hardware cooperative with 4,600 stores, ranked highest in home improvement customer satisfaction for the second straight year, according to a J.D. Power and Associates study.

Analyst puzzles over Sears’ higher EBITDA plans


sears.jpgSears Holdings Corp reported a quarterly loss this morning. But the thing that left analysts like Credit Suisse’s Gary Balter scratching their heads was the company’s expectations for higher earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the full year.

“We are struggling with what we are missing in the context of Q1 being down over $385 million in EBITDA and other comments in the release that talk about the expected difficult sales and gross margin environment,” Balter said in his research note.

Check Out Line: A mixed bag of retail results


bags.jpgCheck out quarterly results from retail companies, including Sears, Costco, Heinz and Big Lots.

Markdowns? No good for Sears. The company, controlled by Eddie Lampert, posted a surprise loss, hurt by discounts and floundering sales at its Kmart and namesake stores.  Immediate respite is not in sight, Sears said, as consumers juggle higher gasoline and food prices.