Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: A quarterly update from toyland

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matCheck out Mattel reporting a smaller-than-expected decline in third-quarter revenue as the toymaker sees gains in its Hot Wheels and American Girl brands.

Profit fell to $229.8 million, or 63 cents a share, from $238.1 million, or 65 cents a share, a year earlier.  Net sales fell 8 percent to $1.79 billion.  Analysts expected revenue of $1.78 billion.

Chief Executive Robert Eckert said Mattel’s revenue was still under pressure due to the weak economy, a move by retailers to tightly manage inventory and a dearth of toy lines tied to movies and other entertainment.

“That said, we are continuing to make strong progress on reducing costs, rebuilding margins and generating strong cash flow,” he said in a statement.

from MediaFile:

Target makes the scene with a magazine

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You know how it is when you take a trip to Target: You're going to buy just that ONE THING that you need, and you're going to keep it cheap. As you leave the store, you wonder how you dropped hundreds of dollars on things that you didn't realize you needed until you walked into the store.

Target is hoping to spawn a similar phenomenon on its website, where it has begun offering a magazine newsstand. Rather than starting from scratch, it has signed on Zinio, a digital publishing company that offers magazines and books from more than 350 publishers.

Check Out Line: Retailers’ ad strategies face “Tipping point”

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newspaperCheck out the quickly shifting media landscape putting retailers’ ad strategies at risk.

In a research note this week, Credit Suisse analyst Michael Exstein examined what changes in the media world mean for retailers who are used to reaching consumers through traditional channels — like the newspaper.

Check Out Line: Bringing back discretionary spending

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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

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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.

Check Out Line: Saks doesn’t sell

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Check out the recession. It appears it was still alive and well at Saks in the second quarter. saks
 
The upscale retailer posted a $54.5 million loss in the quarter, wider than the $32.7 million seen a year earlier.
 
Same-store sales fell 15.5 percent in the quarter and Saks expects that measure to fall in the mid-to-high single digits in the second half of the year.
 
The company has been cutting expenses and controlling inventory. The loss also was not as bad as analysts expected.
 
But unless a Versace dress becomes the “must-have” back to school item, the tough sales environment at Saks is likely to continue.
 
Also in the basket:
 
Cost cuts help Home Depot beat estimates
 
Big part of U.S. back-to-school sales still ahead: NRF
 
CKE same-store sales off 3.6 pct in latest four weeks
 
Target profit falls, but beats Wall Street view

(Reuters photo)

Check Out Line: Target takes control of Target.com

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tgtCheck out Target already looking forward to the 2011 holiday season.The discount retailer said it is taking control of Target.com and aiming to launch its new website by the 2011 holiday season.The announcement signals the end of a relationship with online retailer Amazon.com that began in 2001.”We believe it is in Target’s best interest going forward to assume full control over the design and management of Target’s e-commerce technology platform, fulfillment and guest services operations,” Target.com President Steve Eastman said in a statement.Target had previously extended its contract with Amazon to 2011, but the companies will continue to work together during the next two years.Also in the basket:Crocs Q2 beats, sees return to profit in 2010 Blue Nile profit in-line; full-yr view tops, shrs upHhgregg Q1 profit beats Street, reaffirms outlookForget the shuttle, take a Hermes chopper to the airportSupreme Court Justice Thomas and Wife Camp Out at Wal-Mart (Foxnews.com)(Photo: Reuters)

Designer duds at discount prices

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Clothing has been a tough sell amid the recession, as shoppers stick to buying more of what they need and less of what they want.

mcBut mass merchants are continuing to strike deals with designers, hoping they can find the right mix of fashionable clothes and low prices to win sales from frugal shoppers.

Social Media for Business

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facebook-wholefoods1

A new report by Inside Facebook discusses some best practices for retailers hoping to set up shop on the popular social networking site.

Some of the recommendations include letting users shop from within Facebook, including even the ability to share product information with friends.  Another suggestion is to have contests, giveaways and sweepstakes.

Check Out Line: Can a $298 laptop jump-start back-to-school?

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schoolbus2Check out efforts to get serious back-to-school shopping underway.

Wal-Mart announced plans to start selling on Sunday a Compaq Presario laptop for $298.

Gary Severson, Wal-Mart U.S.’s senior vice president of home entertainment, told Reuters he thought the deal represented a “screaming value.”

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