Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Can new systems get Best Buy back on its game?


Check out the impending barrage of new video games. E3/

It is all about motion sensors and 3D as Nintendo, Microsoft and  Sony introduce new systems and devices to get more people  gaming.

Microsoft has a full-body motion-sensing system called Kinect. Nintendo has a new DS handheld device that can play games and show movies in 3D. Sony has the “Move,” which uses a wand like the Wii to simulate motion in games.

Which system will you buy? Don’t know? Sounds confusing?

That could be just the thing Best Buy needs to boost sales.

The largest U.S. electronics retailer posted worse-than-expected earnings amid sluggish sales and higher costs on Tuesday.

Some analysts are hoping that the new video games and 3D televisions could help lift Best Buy later this year.

Check Out Line: The tale of two home centers


Home DepotCheck out the differing prospects at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Home Depot topped analysts’ expectations with its quarterly report on Tuesday morning and raised 2010 forecasts after its strong start out of the gate.

That dose of confidence came a day after smaller rival Lowe’s issued guidance that disappointed investors.  Remember, Lowe’s was a bit cautious when it came to talking about the possibility of an economic recovery.

Paper? Plastic? At Walmart, the push for reuseable


wmt smallbag 006Three Walmart stores in Northern California are no longer giving shoppers the option of packing their purchases in free plastic bags.

Instead, in stores in Folsom, Citrus Heights and Ukiah, Walmart is offering shoppers resuable bags — a regular sized bag for 15 cents or an oversized bag for 50 cents.

Unicorn + Clown = Surprise hit for Walmart


clownIf the NFL playoff games weren’t filled with enough unexpected action to keep you awake this past Sunday, something else was — a screaming clown.

Walmart aired a new commercial during the games this weekend meant to promote its low prices on party supplies.

Check Out Line: Ready for the after-Christmas sales


Santa and Christmas treeCheck out retailers’ post-holiday push.

Shop Talk remembers when after-Christmas sales were advertised in the newspaper on Christmas Day itself.  Times have changed a bit.  Walmart is already letting you know what deals will be available, including ones that could lead you to spend more at its stores.

J.C. Penney, meanwhile, said it would open its doors at 5 a.m. on the day after Christmas, the earliest start ever.  While online shoppers get 99-cent per item shipping, J.C. Penney is still going a little old school.  Those who get its Christmas Day newspaper circular will get good ol’ coupons to use in stores.

Check Out Line: How do I get to the closest Walmart?


wmtCheck out what has emerged as a hot online search term as the days remaining to buy holiday gifts quickly dwindle.

According to Hitwise,  last week searches for store locators reached their second highest peak since the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  For the week ending Dec. 12, searches for store locators  jumped 77 percent.

Black Friday: First Blood Part II


hamstersWe were wondering earlier today how much longer it would take until customers shopping for Black Friday deals got rowdy. We told you about one shoving match in Centennial, Colorado, that involved dropping a little old lady. Now we have a “disturbance” at a Walmart store in Upland, California, near Rancho Cucamonga in Southern California’s Inland Empire. What motivates some of these attacks? Toy hamsters! (See our earlier entry on this phenomenon. Also, look toward the bottom of this blog entry.)

The San Bernardino Sun reported details:

“Upland police officers received reports of the disturbance about 2:45 a.m. Friday and sent about four officers to the store at 1540 W. Foothill Boulevard, Lt. Jim Etchason said. ‘A manager at the store called it in to the police department,’ Etchason said. ‘(The manager) said numerous customers were causing a disturbance with each other.’”

Walmart takes to iPhones to find holiday shoppers


wmtiphone1Walmart has launched an aggressive push to win market share this holiday shopping season, cutting prices on everything from books to toys to lean ground beef and televisions.

Now, it is taking its effort to reach potential holiday shoppers beyond its typical TV or print ads.

Check Out Line: New chapters in book battle


Check out the battles emerging over books. BRITAIN/

Google on Thursday announced plans to offer its own online electronic bookstore, joining a battlefield currently dominated by

The company plans to sell ebooks for any device with a web browser and its library is expected to start at about half a million books when it is launched in 2010.

Check Out Line: Holiday time in Toyland


Check out Toys R Us hiring 35,000 for the holiday season.
dinosaurs-treeThe toy store giant said it would keep its U.S. store hiring plans at the same level as the last two years, even though industry watchers expect a relatively bleak winter.

Toys R Us, the New Jersey-based chain with nearly 70,000 permanent associates around the globe, is preparing for what it expects will be “another busy holiday shopping season.”  Besides hiring about 35,000 for the season, current Toys R Us employees will also be given the chance to work extra hours, the company said.