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: 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: More stuff to buy on


WALMART/INTERNATIONALCheck Out the discount giant’s latest move. announced that it added nearly one million new products to its online collection with the launch of Walmart Marketplace, which lets consumers buy items from a specific group of other retailers through its own website.

The move adds products and top brands in areas such as home goods, apparel, toys and baby items.

Recession ushers in era of the savvy shopper, but will it last?


SAFRICA-INFLATIONThe indicators are there: people are saving more and they’re spending less.  The era of the savvy(er) shopper has officially arrived. But how long will it last?

Family financial guru Ellie Kay has been talking about smart shopping for years, publishing numerous books and maintaining a blog about how to shop smart. With the back-to-school shopping season running up against the recession, she’s been hearing a lot from her readers about how they’ve changed their buying habits.

from Raw Japan:

Retailers do well by going cheap

Japan is back in deflation, and price falls look like gathering pace as shoppers' bargain-hunting leads stores to cut prices further to weather the worst retail slump in decades.

Retailers large and small reported hard falls in quarterly profits last week, and the few bright spots were focused on those drawing in thrifty shoppers with their cheap but well-made goods.

Watches and sunglasses – shopping’s bright spots


By Dhanya Skariachan

men-shopping2There’s nothing like a snazzy watch or a cool pair of sunglasses to  chase away those recession blues.
Despite the economic downturn, the U.S. accessories market has displayed some areas of growth, according to a report from market research firm NPD Group, with  watches and sunglasses being bright spots.

That could point to a trend where shoppers are not buying whole outfits, as they try to save money, but are drawn by powerful SALE signs to selectively snap up accessories to accentuate their old wardrobes. 

Check Out Line: Shopping? No thanks


USA-HOLIDAYSALES/Check out a persistent weakness in consumer attitudes.

On a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is “very confident,” general economic perception of consumers fell to 36.7 in February from 38 in October, according to a survey by retail research firm NPD Group. The survey uses online answers from 1,000 people each month.

On the heels of worries over the economy, consumers’ intentions to shop also weakened. NPD’s study showed a more than five-point drop to 35.4 in February, compared to 40.7 in October.

from MacroScope:

Crouching Buyer, Hidden Bargain

The terrible U.S. retail sales  racked up in December -- called a "horror show" by ING -- were all the more gruesome because of the sales on offer to customers in the run up to Christmas. Shops weren't exactly giving things away, but their generosity knew few bounds.

Consider the experience of one visitor to a heaving handbag department in a Maryland Macy's.
    Customer: "I would like to buy this handbag please. Oh dear, it appears to be the only one that is not on sale."
    Salesman: "So it is. Tell you what, sir, I'll give you 15 percent off anyway."

It’s a sunny day in the apparel business — are we having fun yet?


The slide opening VF Corp’s presentation at the ICR XChange Conference on Tuesday said it all: “These are unprecedented times … are you having fun yet?”

For investors and companies attending the two-day event in Dana Point, California, the answer was probably yes, given the 77 degree temperatures, sunny skies, view of the beach (and distance from the freezing weather in the mid-West and East of the country).

Check Out Line: Shopping stays in a slump


FINANCIAL/TIMESCheck Out the continued pain in the retail industry.
Wal-Mart’s outgoing CEO, Lee Scott, said Monday that he expects the U.S. economy to remain extraordinarily challenging in the first half of the year and does not see anything that would turn it around quickly.
Scott likely wanted to deliver some brighter news in his swan song. He turns over the CEO post to Mike Duke on Feb. 1. However, the tone at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference in New York this week is likely to be bleak.

ShopperTrak predicted that U.S. retail foot traffic will fall 16.4 percent during the first quarter. The group, which monitors customer traffic, expects retail sales to fall 4 percent during the quarter.