Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Creating a to-do list for Wal-Mart’s new CEO


dukeThis Saturday, Lee Scott will retire as CEO of Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, and Mike Duke will step in to the CEO shoes on Sunday.

Since the management change was announced in November, ShopTalk is fairly certain that Duke has come up with a pretty long list of things to do in his first few months as CEO.

But Reuters talked to analysts and investors about what they want Duke to focus on.

Some said Duke should continue the turnaround started by Scott, looking to boost results in its existing U.S. stores by slowing the opening of new ones.

Check Out Line: The January job cuts continue


TARGET/Check out the stream of retailers rushing to announce job cuts and charges as they close out their fiscal years.

Late on Tuesday, Target said it would cut jobs, mainly at its headquarters in Minneapolis, while Best Buy (also headquartered in Minneapolis) said it planned involuntary layoffs after too few employees took voluntary exit packages.

Professor Lee Scott?


Could Lee Scott be heading off to Stanford?WALMART/CHINA

Scott will retire as CEO of the world’s largest retailer as of Feb. 1.

While Scott will remain chairman of the executive committee of the board after retiring as CEO, he gave a hint on Monday as to how he might spend some of his upcoming free time.

Speaking at a Wal-Mart meeting that was broadcast over the Internet, Scott said he has been asked by Stanford to be a visiting professor.

Check Out Line: Wal-Mart wins in Chile bid


Check Out Wal-Mart’s move into Chile. USA/

The world’s largest retailer said on Friday that it was successful with its tender offer to acquire Chile’s largest supermarket chain Distribucion y Servicio D&S S.A., winning a strong base in the local market and likely sparking retail competition in the area. In 2008, Chile’s antitrust tribunal nixed a proposed takeover of D&S by regional retailer Falabella.

Wal-Mart’s move comes at a time when acquisitions or takeovers have been few and far between as companies struggle to secure financing for such deals.

from MediaFile:

Beam me up…Barbie?

Yes, it's true. Mattel has gone where it has already gone before, but only differently!

Pictures of Mattel's new Star Trek Barbies were released on Wednesday causing a stir among Trekkies, eagerly anticipating Paramount's May release of the film, "Star Trek," chronicling the earliest days of Captain Kirk and Spock.

Big stores = Big brand value


USA-HOLIDAYSALES/Bigger appears to be better, at least in the retail industry.  According to retail brand consultancy Interbrand Design Forum, Walmart is the most valuable U.S. retail brand.
Interbrand just ranked the 50 most valuable U.S. retail brands for 2009. While the firm looked at the impact of the brands themselves, the list shows that big box stores have the power. Rounding out the top four – Best Buy, Home Depot and Target.

Interbrand said a brand accounts for 25 percent of the decision to shop at a store. It gave Walmart — Wal-Mart’s U.S. unit – a brand value of $129.8 billion. While that makes the world’s largest retailer the brand value leader, that value is well short of the $235.9 billion in sales racked up at U.S. Walmart stores over the 48 weeks that ended on Jan. 2.

Check Out Line: Shopping stays in a slump


FINANCIAL/TIMESCheck Out the continued pain in the retail industry.
Wal-Mart’s outgoing CEO, Lee Scott, said Monday that he expects the U.S. economy to remain extraordinarily challenging in the first half of the year and does not see anything that would turn it around quickly.
Scott likely wanted to deliver some brighter news in his swan song. He turns over the CEO post to Mike Duke on Feb. 1. However, the tone at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference in New York this week is likely to be bleak.

ShopperTrak predicted that U.S. retail foot traffic will fall 16.4 percent during the first quarter. The group, which monitors customer traffic, expects retail sales to fall 4 percent during the quarter.

Check Out Line: December sales slump


Check Out the drop in sales.

It was no surprise that sales were weak in December, though some retailers stood out Thursday for their worse-than-expected performance.

WALMART/Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose just 1.7 percent, while analysts were expecting a 2.8 percent increase.  Wal-Mart and other chains such as Macy’s cut guidance for the fourth quarter ending later this month.
Shares of Wal-Mart fell more than 9 percent on Thursday morning, dragging the Dow Jones industrial average into negative territory as well.

Check Out Line: Shoppers resist last-minute urges


Check Out low shopper turnout just before Christmas.RETAIL-BLACKFRIDAY/

Only 38.7 percent of consumers in a survey were out for some last-minute holiday shopping in the weekend before Christmas — the smallest number in six years, according to the survey conducted by America’s Research Group and UBS.

Traffic was especially weak in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, which were slammed by winter storms over the weekend. That kept scores of people at home, but those who did venture out seemed to opt for stores that had deep discounts going on.  Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, attracted over two-thirds of consumers, the survey found.

“Why THANK you! I just LOVE this knitted cell-phone cover!”


SYRIA/If you’re spending the holidays baking cookies and brushing up on your needlepoint and macrame, you’re not alone. Some 14 percent of Americans are opting for home-made gifts this year, according to a holiday shopping poll from Consumer Reports.

But if canning okra isn’t quite your thing, you may be altering your spending habits in other ways, the poll found. Spending limits on gifts are now de rigueur, and some 37 percent of families have set them as a way to cut down on unnecessary purchases in tight financial times.