Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

The rich (in Bentonville) get richer


Wal-Mart has been the big retail winner in the recession and new data suggests that it could keep some of its gains after the economy recovers. walmartt
According to a survey by America’s Research Group, 9.3 percent of consumers surveyed said they had shopped at Wal-Mart for the first time this year.
Of those, a whopping 98.9 percent said that they would shop there again and the same number said they would continue to shop there once the recession ends.
“We’re watching the total domination for this retailer called Wal-Mart,” America’s Research founder and CEO Britt Beemer said.
The results were from a series of questions America’s Research asked on behalf of Reuters during the group’s weekly holiday shopping survey.

(Reuters photo)

Early or late — Thanksgiving shift doesn’t phase Wal-Mart


Retailers say it can be difficult to measure their monthly sales results accurately on a year-over-year basis because of calendar shifts — sometimes a holiday falls in one month, boosting results, while the next year the holiday shifts into a different month, hurting results.

The most drastic case of this is usually seen in March and April, when the timing of the Easter holiday can help March sales and hurt April, or vice versa.

Will Wal-Mart worker death change Black Friday?


The chaotic crowds that show up in search of rock bottom prices on Black Friday took a deadly turn this year, when a worker at Wal-Mart, Jdimytai Damour, was trampled and killed by a crowd of frenzied shoppers at one of the discount retailer’s stores in Long Island.

The shocking death made headlines around the world, showing the dark side of American consumerism. A reader identified as Life Faith wrote in to talk Shop Talk to describe the harrowing experience of being caught in the crowd at that Wal-Mart store on Friday morning:

Sorting through Black Friday data


Black Friday has come and gone but what on earth happened at the cash registers over the Thanksgiving weekend? The data is trickling in, and so are the early critiques. (See our previous blogs: Treat Black Friday reports cautiously and Black Friday data spurs more questions than answers)

Here is a break down of the latest reports and what data is still to come:

National Retail Federation:

According its 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch and published on Sunday, the NRF said more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend (which includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projections for Sunday), up from 147 million shoppers last year. 

The Real Winner in Consumer Electronics


If you want to know who was the real retail winner amid all the Black Friday frenzy, just look in the mirror.

That’s the word from Jim Barry, a former editor of Video magazine, who is now a spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association.

Check Out Line: Changing of the Guard at Wal-Mart


Check Out succession planning at Wal-Mart

The world’s biggest retailer is about to get a new occupant in its corner office. Mike Duke, who currently heads the chain’s international operations, will take over as chief executive in February, replacing Lee Scott.

Scott, who has been CEO for more than eight years, will stay on as chairman of the board’s executive committee.

Toys “R” Us touts Black Friday discounts to shoppers


Take as long as you need to recover from that big Thanksgiving meal this year.

This Black Friday, Toys “R” Us is holding an additional hour of door-buster deals  as it tries to get a bigger bite of sales this holiday season.

The specialty toy retailer is discounting more than 150 items this year, compared to the 101 that it announced a year ago. Shoppers can snap up toys and games at those special prices from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 28, known in the retail industry as Black Friday, the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Last year, the door-buster deals were finished by noon.

Wal-Mart donates food, cash to fight hunger


Wal-Mart is partnering with Feeding America, the largest charitable hunger-relief organization in the United States, to provide 70 million meals annually to families and individuals who are struggling to put food on the table during the toughest economic downturn in decades.

The move from the world’s largest retailer comes as U.S. food banks are seeing donations fall short of demand.

Check Out Line: This week in retail wasn’t pretty


Check out a stream of extremely sobering news from – and for – retailers.

This week, quarterly reports came in from Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, JC PenneyCharlotte Russe, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Kmart cites boost from early deals, layaway


Retailer Kmart says early Black Friday specials and its layaway plan are generating interest from consumers who want to stretch their dollars this holiday season.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally marks the start of holiday shopping.