Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Summer job search advice for teens

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jobfair1Check out tough times for job-seeking teens.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said teens looking for a summer job will need to dedicate themselves full-time to the search, meaning getting a full-time job will be a full-time job. While many employers have filled summer positions, some may need more than expected while others delayed hiring until summer business conditions became clearer, Challenger CEO John Challenger said.

“The point is, you never know if or when a job opening is going to materialize, so you want to keep pushing,” he said in a statement.

Earlier this spring, the Challenger firm predicted an improved summer hiring outlook for teens compared with last year, when employment among 16- to 19-year-olds grew by less than 1.2 million jobs from May through July.

“It is unlikely that summer employment gains among teens will reach pre-recession levels, but we should definitely see increased hiring compared to 2008 and 2009, which experienced the weakest summer teen job growth since the 1950s,” Challenger said.

UPS to U.S. consumer: relax, have an app!

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UPS/UPS expects healthy profits in 2010, no thanks to the U.S. consumer the company is trying to entice with iPhone and BlackBerry applications.

Announced in November and December, the free applications enable users to create and track shipments, calculate rates and delivery times and find the nearest UPS location.

Check Out Line: Retail’s Monday morning quarterbacks

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nutcracker.JPGCheck out the various descriptions of the 2009 holiday shopping season, which unofficially ended on Friday with Christmas. Analysts’ Monday morning reviews range from ”adequate” to “quite pleased”.

“All in all … Holiday 2009 was good enough, but has a long way to go with catching up to what the consumer really wants,” said NPD Group analyst Marshal Cohen. “And if the economy is truly to recover, not only does the housing and credit market need to recover, but the innovation market for retail products must recover as well.”

Survey: Most consumers plan to spend less this holiday season

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shopping-bagRetailers, listen up. A survey from Discover shows that more consumers believe economic conditions are still getting worse.
 
Discover’s U.S. Spending Monitor for October fell 3.2 points to 85.8 (that’s out of 100, which is where the index started in May 2007).
 
Forty-six percent felt economic conditions were getting worse. That’s up 3 points from September and the first time the survey has seen an increase since July.

Slightly more women (58 percent) than men (53 percent) rated the economy as poor. Overall, 56 percent called the economy poor, up from 52 percent in September.
 
“The Monitor has always shown that women tend to be less optimistic than men about the economy and their finances,” said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and product management for Discover.  “But the record jump in the number of women rating the economy as poor and the pessimism over the current state of their finances may indicate a weak holiday shopping season ahead.”

Check Out Line: Diamonds no longer a girl’s best friend?

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tiffany1Check out the quarterly results at jeweler Tiffany & Co. It’s enough to make one question  Marilyn Monroe’s choice in songs.

The company posted a slightly weaker-than-expected first-quarter profit and said sales dropped 22 percent as shoppers avoided jewelry. Companies like Tiffany and even more-affordable peers such as Zale Corp have seen demand hurt in the past year as consumers focus on buying necessities in the recession.

Check Out Line-Retail sector racks up more bad news

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Check out the not-so-chipper news in the retail world.

bk1Restaurant chain Burger King reported lower profits and cut its full-year forecast due to the currency fluctuations, while cosmetics and perfume companies Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden rang up lower, albeit better-than-expected, profits and said they would cut jobs.

Indeed, retailers overall posted the second weakest monthly same-store sales performance since Thomson Reuters began tracking the data in 2000 as heavy job losses, weakness in the U.S. housing sector and the still-tight credit markets have many consumers closing their wallets.

Check Out Line: More bad news for books and drug stores

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Check Out some weakness in book and drug stores sales.

Borders dumped Chief Executive George Jones less than threejones2 years after he joined the No. 2 U.S. specialty bookseller, replacing him with a private equity executive with experience turning around ailing companies. The company, which reported a sales decline of almost 12 percent during the holiday shopping season, also named a new chief financial officer as well as replacing its executive vice president for merchandising and marketing.

In November, Borders said it was no longer pursuing a possible sale of the company even as it posted a larger-than-expected operating loss.

Check Out Line: Black Friday

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Check out Black Friday.

Call it a test of the American consumer’s mettle.
How many will feel confident enough about the economy, and their own future within it, to spend money that is increasingly hard to come by? How many will resist the siren call of steep discounts and sales for even the hottest gadgets, like those available at Apple Inc’s stores?

This Black Friday, such questions are not only central to the future of many of the best known U.S. retailers, but amount to a key indicator of how quickly the country’s consumer-led economy will shrink in the coming months. How deep a recession could it be, how long might it last?

Check Out Line: Apparel sales shrinking with economy

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Check Out what the shrinking U.S. economy is doing to apparel sales.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says the U.S. economy has probably slipped into a recession that will last through the middle of 2009.

But forget Paris, you don’t need to look any further than today’s results from apparel retailers for proof that the U.S. economy is in a slide.

Check Out Line: Weak economy keeps socking it to retailers

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Check out the lower expectations in the retail world.

Discount retailer Target Corp rang up its fifth consecutive lower quarterly profit, suspended almost all of its share buyback program and cut capital spending plans as cash-strapped consumers shifted away from its trendy merchandise to staples like food and toiletries.

Meanwhile, Lowe’s Companies, the No. 2 home improvement retailer, posted a lower profit, but even worse cut its fourth-quarter profit forecast below Wall Street’s expectations, citing rising unemployment, falling home prices and tight credit as reasons homeowners are putting off some renovations and purchases.

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