Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Starbucks, coffee shops see collateral benefit from Black Friday


STARBUXBlack Friday bargain hunting is a marathon, requiring a shopper to be alert and aggressive to outmaneuver rivals for that last $200 LCD TV at Target. But with so many retailers opening their doors at midnight, why bother going to sleep? Even if you shopped at Kohl’s, which opened at 3 am or J.C. Penney, at 4 am, you were in for very short night for most.

So bleary-eyed shoppers turned out in drove at U.S. malls on Friday, with lines at coffee shops among the longest.

Mall operator Macerich said on Friday that the Starbucks at its Tysons Corner Center in suburban Washington had lines 30 people deep at 11 a.m. At the Newport Center mall in Jersey City, exhausted shoppers could be seen forming a line of 20 to get much needed java.

After all, no one wants to be caught unawares when cashmere sweaters for 50 percent off are at stake.

Check Out Line: Have a flu shot, spend some more


flushot1Check out the impact of signs the U.S. flu season may be weaker this year.

Drug stores such as Walgreen, CVS and Rite Aid are offering flu shots earlier and more conveniently to keep sales from slumping with no expected H1N1 outbreak this year along the lines of last year.

Last year, consumers came for flu shots and bought other items as well, but those related sales could suffer this year. Walgreen, for example, said lower demand for flu-related prescriptions cut 0.3 percentage point from its same-store sales growth in August.

Pampers to create designer diapers

Photo courtesy of PRNewswire

Photo courtesy of PRNewswire

Following a trend made popular by teen shops H&M and Forever21, a Procter & Gamble brand is making the leap to disposable fashion.


Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley will create a line of Pampers diapers for Target that will include madras, stripes and ruffles, P&G said Wednesday. The collection “delivers the perfect blend of utility and aesthetics,” according to the company.

Happy Super Valenbowl!


superbowlTarget spent time talking to Wall Street analysts on Thursday, outlining the multiple ways it will expand its business in the next 10 years.

It will open smaller stores in urban markets. It will add its PFresh food concept into hundreds of stores, boosting customer traffic. It will explore overseas expansion in Canada, Mexico or Latin America.

Target wants shoppers to squeeze the (supersized) Charmin


Grab that shopping cart – you’re going to need it.

greatsaveTo lure post holiday shoppers this year, Target has scrapped its typical plan of stocking its stores with exotic home goods sourced from across this globe.

Instead, it has cleared out the Christmas trees and holiday lights to make room for a mini warehouse club.

Safeway, Walmart top list of most wanted gift cards


SafewayWhile giving gift cards may have declined in popularity, some are proving quite attention-worthy and can be cashed in for a pretty penny.  Online gift card site buys gift cards for cash, and then resells them, often for a bit less than the amount left on the card.  It also lets people donate cards to charities.

So, what stores are hot this holiday season?

Here are the cards the site is paying the most for — up to 90 percent of the face value:

Target pops up, but this time with a focus on price


tgt1Target is a big fan of the pop up store, setting up miniature versions of itself for a few days so shoppers can buy its wares, often in cities where it does not have a large presence.

A year ago, right before the financial storm hit Wall Street in September, it set up “Bullseye Bodegas” in Manhattan, where it showcased exclusive merchandise by 22 designers.

Black Friday: No riff-raff, please


saksBargain shoppers turned out en masse across the land on Friday morning to observe Black Friday rituals, while retail temples from Target to Macy’s to Saks slashed prices to get people to do one simple thing: buy more stuff.

But upscale stores — and some their shoppers — seemed to think the Black Friday extravaganza beneath them.

Check Out Line: More holiday reality checks from retailers


anntayCheck out more retailers reminding Wall Street that all is not well on Main Street.

On Friday morning,  AnnTaylor Stores reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and gave a cautious forecast for the current holiday quarter.

This holiday’s shiny new toy: social media


iphoneCompanies that cater to consumers are always chasing after the latest consumer technology trend (anyone remember Second Life?), and this holiday season that means following them into the world of social media.

Companies ranging from Wal-Mart and Panda Express to J.C. Penney and Target are experimenting with Facebook, TwitterYouTube or Flickr. Some are tweeting special coupons or limited-time deals, while others are doling out fashion advice or providing play-by-plays from product launch parties on Facebook. M.A.C. said it is using its Facebook page to feature artists, color collections, and what is happening backstage at fashion shows.