Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Picture the economy: L.A.


A picture is worth a thousand words — and some Californians have a lot to say about the worst financial crisis in decades.












greenspan5The economic meltdown was the focus of Crossman Wilkins’ (above) master’s thesis at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

“I’ve been working with this interest in my own place in the economy,” said Wilkins, 23. (At right is a detail of from the posters shown above, which feature notables like former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and current Chairman Ben Bernanke.)

The self-professed news junkie once made a poster from a year’s worth of receipts and said his latest work reflects the recession’s influence on the news flow.

Check Out Line: Still cutting jobs, but less so


USA/Check Out the drop in job cuts. 

U.S.-based employers announced fewer plans to slash jobs for the second month in a row in March, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
In a new report, Challenger said employers announced 150,411 cuts in March, down 19.3 percent from the 186,350 cuts announced in February.  Plans to reduce staff were down in February too, which means we have seen the first two-month decrease in cuts since February-March 2007.

The March cuts were the lowest since October, when 112,884 planned job cuts were announced and come on the heels of a 23-percent decline recorded in February.

Free resumes from FedEx Office


resumeNeed we say more?

On March 10, the company that bought copy shop Kinko’s will print 25 free resumes on high-quality paper when customers stop in at any of the 1,600-plus FedEx Office Print and Ship Centers in the United States.

“We understand that the economy has affected many people in a very profound way, and we want to help,” Brian Philips, president and CEO of FedEx Office, told Reuters. “In January, nearly 600,000 people found themselves out of work. I understand that in February, by the time they add up the numbers, it could be worse.”

Everything is on sale, even franchises


(updates with day offer began)              

gncRetail workers need a pick me up these days after brutal holiday sales, rising unemployment and bleak expectations for 2009.  One chain is offering its own spoonful of medicine, in a way.

GNC, which sells vitamins and supplements at more than 6,200 stores (often with buy one, get one 50 percent off promotions), is offering a 25 percent discount on its initial franchise fee to retail workers who have lost their jobs.  The fee is normally $40,000 for new franchisees, so the deal brings it down to $30,000.

Check Out Line: Holiday wishes for a better economy


Check out samsantaAmericans, fed up with financial doom, who are wishing for a cheerier economy in 2009.

The Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, New York, polled 1,003 Americans about their expectations for 2009 on December 9 and 10 — days after the National Bureau of Economic Research confirmed the United States had been mired in a recession since December 2007 — and found that Americans are optimistic that 2009 will be a better year.

U.S. in Recession since Dec. ’07


The National Bureau of Economic Research, a prestigious private institute that decides when the United States is in recession, says we’ve been in one since December last year.

The call from the NBER came as news to almost nobody in the United States, where unemployment is climbing, available credit is shrinking, consumer spending and confidence are lagging and home prices are falling off a cliff after a huge rise that enabled homeowners to use their property as a cash machine.

Will food banks need a bailout?


Job losses and rising costs for food and housing are driving up demand for emergency meals from charities and food pantries around the United States. But donations aren’t keeping up.

Demand in the Los Angeles area has risen 41 percent from a year ago, said Michael Flood, president and chief executive at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.