Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Losses in the retail world


jcp1Check out the quarterly losses reported by J.C. Penney and former teen darling, Abercrombie & Fitch.

Penney reported a net loss of $1 million, or nil per share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $117 million, or 52 cents per share. Analysts on average expected a loss of 1 cent per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

The loss was bigger over at Abercrombie.

The clothing retailer recorded a net loss of $26.7 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with a net profit of $77.8 million, or 87 cents a share, a year earlier.

anfPenney has fashioned itself as a value destination in the downturn, and said on Friday that it sold more merchandise at regular promotional prices and less at clearance prices. Shoes and women’s clothing were the strongest sellers, while children’s apparel sales were weakest.

Latest back-to-school outlook brings little cheer


handCitigroup retail analysts held a call with the media to discuss their outlook for this year’s back-to-school season and, as we’ve been hearing, there are few bright spots on the horizon.

Deborah Weinswig, who covers retailers including Costco, Wal-Mart and Nordstrom, said Citi expects back-to-school same-store sales for those retailers to fall 3 percent to 4 percent.

Designer duds at discount prices


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.

New doc checks into MinuteClinic


minuteclinic_0031The doctor is in.

Dr. Andrew Sussman was named president and chief operating officer of CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic unit on Tuesday.

Sussman, who was most recently COO at UMass Memorial Medical Center and an associate professor at UMass’s medical school, also became CVS Caremark‘s associate chief medical officer.

Would this label sway your buying decision?


This is a picture of a label that might one day adorn the merchandise hanging on a rack at Wal-Mart. wmtlabel2

The final look and feel of the label could change – maybe it would have a number rating instead of a sliding scale.

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


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.”

Check Out Line: Buying basics buoys big chains


Check out the ten largest U.S. retailers.

The National Retail Federation’s STORES magazine is out with its annual ranking of the top 100 retailers.

wal-mart-meat-shoppersThe list shows that U.S. consumers have been focused on bargains and basic necessities, such as food and medicine.  Wal-Mart tops the lineup, followed by Kroger and CostcoHome Depot fell from No. 2 in 2007 to the fourth spot in 2008 as many shoppers decided to cut back on costly home-improvement projects.

Check Out Supervalu’s shopper woes


Check Out Supervalu’s troubles from consumer thrift.USA-COSTCO/

The third-largest  U.S. supermarket operator, with about 2,500 stores, said that its earnings in the first quarter, which ended on June 20, were hurt by a “tougher than expected business environment.” Its results would be much below analysts’ expectations, the grocer said.

“Since providing guidance on our fourth quarter earnings call, consumers have become more value focused and cautious in their spending, which has pressured sales and margins greater than anticipated,” Supervalu’s CEO Craig Herkert said in a statement.

Check Out Line: No stimulus checks, gas prices rising


Check out a lack of government stimulus checks and rising gas prices weighing on consumers –and the retailers that are trying to sell them stuff.

bbyBest Buy reported lower earnings for its fiscal first-quarter (which ended May 30), and said sales at its stores open at least 14 months declined the most during May. A year ago it got a boost in that month when shoppers came into its stores to spend those government stimulus checks.

from Fan Fare:

“American Idol” Kris Allen woos Wal-Mart investors


krisallenIt reminds us of those old Disney commercials in which, after a big victory, a sports star is asked where they are going next, and the answer is "Disneyworld," or something close to that.

But in this case, it is recent "American Idol" winner Kris Allen, who after winning the TV talent contest last month wasn't schmoozing with Mickey Mouse, he was singing for Wal-Mart investors at the mass market retailer's annual meeting in Arkansas on Friday.