Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Walmart Canada in holiday price cut mode


wmtsignCheck out toy prices falling north of the border.

Walmart Canada said it is dropping the price of some popular toys to $10 (Canadian dollars that is) — a price cut of up to 67 percent in some cases – and new toys will be reduced to $10 every week between now and Christmas.

For instance, it said Transformers Universe, which is regularly priced at $29.92, is being cut to $10, as is Mega Bloks’ Builder Racer that usually sells for $24.96.

The move echoes price cuts announced by Walmart U.S. on Oct. 1 last year, when it slashed prices on popular toys — like Barbie dolls and Tonka trunks — to $10 each.

“We are starting our Christmas toy price cuts earlier than ever, across more toys than ever before,” said Jim Thompson, Walmart Canada’s senior-vice president of merchandise and operations.

30 minutes with Wal-Mart’s CFO


schoeweAfter Wal-Mart (which is now calling itself Walmart) reported quarterly results, the media was given about half an hour to ask its Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe (pictured at left) questions.

We asked about its quarterly results, how back-to-school is shaping up (and for that matter, what about Christmas?), how are consumers faring and what about this call for employer mandated health care coverage?

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.

Wowing students with indigo laptops, blue flash drives


The National Retail Federation has issued its 2009 back-to-school spending survey and the results show that the ringing of school bells won’t necessarily translate into the happy ringing of cash registers.

But the one part of stores where parents and students expect to boost their spending despite the ongoing recession is electronics.

Welcome to Wal-Mart country


bentonvillewmtoneReuters is attending Wal-Mart’s annual meeting this week and will be sending news, tweets and images from the event via Shop Talk.

Our tour will include visits to the company’s distribution center, a Sam’s Club warehouse store and a Walmart supercenter.

Check Out Line: “Insult to injury” for retailers


CANADA/Check Out one analyst’s list of retail names at risk.

Around this time last year, stimulus checks amounting to more than $100 billion started landing in cash-strapped consumers’ bank accounts, giving them a chance to spend and boosting sales for many retailers.

But this year’s stimulus entails lower withholding taxes and not ”hard checks,” which means “the effects of this year’s stimulus on retailers will be a far cry from 2008,” Pali Capital analyst Stacey Widlitz said in a research note to clients.

Retaining the “new” Wal-Mart Moms


In the first two months of this year, Wal-Mart increased its share of the U.S. retail market by more than a full share point compared with same time a year ago, according to a new study from retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners. (Read about their strong February sales results.) 

In January and February Wal-Mart’s U.S. business rang up $44.64 billion of sales — representing 9.7 percent of total estimated U.S. retail sales, excluding auto/food services. That is up from last year, when its January and February U.S. sales were $42.02 billion, or 8.6 percent of total U.S. sales, according to CGP.

Wal-Mart wants a bite of Twilight


twfans2Twilight was a big box office hit. 

Now Wal-Mart hopes the teen vampire sensation will amp up its sales.

The Twilight movie DVD is slated for nationwide release March 21.

Instead of simply selling the DVD in its electronics department, Wal-Mart is opening “Twilight Shops” within each of its 3,500 U.S. discount stores starting in mid-March. 

Wal-Mart will be selling the Twilight DVD movie and CD soundtrack along with Twilight clothes, posters, jewelry, bags and key chains. 

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.

Black Friday ads popping up online


bf2.JPGIt’s that time of year again – supposed Black Friday ads are now starting to appear on online.

Numerous websites have cropped up in recent years that publish what they claim are copies of the newspaper ads retailers will run for Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving that marks the ultra-competitive launch of the holiday shopping season.