Unstructured Finance

Talk about the weather …

Apparel retailers blamed warm November weather for lackluster sales, saying it kept customers from buying sweaters and scarves, but they won’t have that excuse in December.

In fact, the weather is expected to be just cold enough to prompt sweater purchases, but not so frigid that shoppers will avoid their holiday shopping.

According to Weather Trends International, which forecasts temperatures and conditions for U.S. retailers, December is expected to bring average temperatures of about 35 degrees, cold enough to prompt those sweater sales, and mostly free of blizzards — which keep shoppers home.

“It’s going to be a milder December,” said Weather Trends Chief Executive Bill Kirk. “Not too hot, not too cold. Last year we had really cold weather and blizzards that killed store traffic. It’s all about store traffic.”

But beware of a Christmas weekend storm which will snarl traffic and keep consumers by their fireplaces, he said.

November same-store sales data

Warm and wet weather dampened November same-store sales at many U.S. chains in a key period that includes the start of the holiday shopping season.

Following is a table of sales resuls reported by a number of retailers, along with analysts expectations:

TABLE-U.S. retailers’ same-store sales in November

Nov 30 (Reuters) – The following table lists select U.S. retail companies that have reported November sales at stores open at least a year, a key retail measure also known as same-store sales.

Online angst goes hand in hand with crush in malls

newamazon.jpg    Just as shoppers crowded the malls on Black Friday, eager bargain-hunters clogged Web sites of major online retailers at the start of the key holiday shopping season, with both Walmart.com and Amazon.com reporting temporary snafus.
    Wal-mart said that a higher-than-anticipated surge in traffic caused “an issue with site availability” early Friday morning.
    But the world’s largest retailer said that Friday-only specials scheduled to end at 11 a.m. would be extended through midnight to accommodate shoppers who weren’t able to access the deals earlier.
    At Amazon, it took a mere 29 seconds on Thanksgiving to sell a limited supply of 1,000 Xbox 360 Core Systems that were heavily discounted at $100. But the popular promotion, which spurred “drastically” higher-than-expected traffic, had its down side.
    “That did cause a degradation in page load times that started before 11 a.m. and lasted for about 15 minutes,” said Amazon spokesman Craig Berman.
    Even the magical world of Disney had problems. The Disneyshopping.com Web site has had sporatic problems all Friday, according to spokesman Gary Foster.
    But specials advertised on the site had already been slated to run through Sunday, he said.
    The moral of this story? Sometimes it’s easier to brave the crowds and hit the mall after all.

Hunky cops help shoppers exercise spending muscles

   You’re sleepy, you’re still digesting your Thanksgiving dinner, and yet the promise of slashed prices on toys, clothing, and electronics is pulling you, zombie-like, to a nearby mall.
    That was the scenario across the land this morning as consumers geared up for America’s greatest shopping day. 
    As a reward for getting out of bed, female shoppers at New Jersey’s Westfield Garden State Plaza were entertained by the “Calendar Cops,” beefy men in uniform who led the crowd in warm-up exercises.
    “They were getting the crowd motivated and stretched to power-shop today,” said Lisa Herrmann, marketing director of the Paramus, New Jersey mall.
    Other homey touches at California’s Folsom Premium Outlets included employees working in their pajamas and slippers as stores opened up at midnight.
    Toys “R” Us Chief Executive Gerald Storch suggested that the post-Thanksgiving shopping phenomenon may be biological.
    “As soon as the Thanksgiving meal is finished, something goes off. An alarm or some kind of inbred trigger goes off in the American shopper and they go out to the stores the next morning,” Storch told Reuters.
    Certainly, the deals don’t hurt.
    Janet LaFevre, director of marketing at the Glendale Galleria, one of Southern California’s largest malls, said signs in shop windows and straightforward promotions were helping direct shoppers to the best deals, such as half off everything at teen retail Aeropostale.
    “The retailers are not making you jump through huge hoops to find a great deal,” LaFevre said.
    Price wasn’t the only attraction. A good indication of a healthy shopping season, she said, was that lines were spilling outside stores not known for discounting. LaFevre cited as an example the mall’s Apple store, where approximately 50 people were queued up at 5:30 a.m. to buy the new (Product) RED special edition Nano, which benefits AIDS-related causes.

Sony’s PS3 draws men to malls

ps3mall.jpgSony’s new PlayStation 3 video game console is bringing more married couples together this holiday shopping season — Just not for the reasons one would expect.
“We are interviewing shoppers and a lot of husbands said they will shop with wives because they are concerned about crime and violence surrounding the PlayStation 3,” Britt Beemer, founder of America’s Research Group, told Reuters.
The PS3 debuted on Nov. 17 to big U.S. crowds eager to be among the first to put their hands on the long-awaited and very limited supplies of new machines from the world’s leading console maker. The launch was marred by violence when bandits shot a man waiting in line at a Connecticut Wal-Mart after he refused to hand over his cash.

Following the shooting, Sony issued a statement calling the attack an isolated incident.

“There are two or three times more men out today,” said Beemer, whose firm specializes in consumer behavior marketing.

Black Friday cooks some shopper’s patience

Targetcrowd.jpgAmericans shook off their turkey-and-cranberry hangovers and hit the stores early on Friday, anxious to start holiday shopping and to take advantage of deals offered by all kinds of retailers.

But many shoppers had second thoughts, frustrated by long lines to get into stores and at check-out counters.

For example, Monique Hand and a friend left home in Paterson, New Jersey, at 2:30 a.m., bound for New York’s Woodbury Common outlet center, which opened at midnight. But when they arrived two hours later, the crowds, lines and a full parking lot were too much to handle, she said.

This season’s hot toy? Nothing with batteries (included or otherwise)

Boys in KitchenThe holiday season is off and running, with a busy “Black Friday”.

And while TMX Elmo may be in hot demand so far, that doesn’t mean Stacey Daprato, a former teacher and New Jersey mom, is going to hold on to hers.

After seeing her 2-year-old son ignore the giggling, squirming Muppet at playgroups, she’s decided to sell the one she’d bought him for Christmas on eBay.

“He didn’t seem too impressed,” she said.

So what did her son, Mattie, and his friends gravitate to instead? An anecdotal survey of two kids’ play groups in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey found that toddlers ignored many of the season’s hottest electronic gifts in favor of more tangible items the children could grasp and feel in creative control of.

Sneak peek at “Black Friday” deals

walmartline.jpgWant a break from cooking that Thanksgiving turkey? Wal-Mart hopes you’ll go online to start that holiday shopping. Wait, don’t shop – just browse. The retail giant, which already slashed prices on some hot holiday items, will show you some special Thanksgiving treats, but you have to wait till “Black Friday” to buy them.
Here’s the deal. Eight deals will be posted on Wal-Mart’s web site on Thanksgiving. But they won’t be sold there. You’ll have to go to a bricks and mortar store between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Black Friday to actually make your purchase.
So, let us know: What kind of deal would get you out of bed at the crack of dawn next Friday?


Your Dad or your pet–who would you rather shop for?

    Drum roll please………..and the answer is — your pet!
    According to a suvery conducted by Harris Interactive for Yahoo Shopping, only four percent of those who buy gifts for their pet find it difficult to pick out a present for their furry friend. But 51 percent of U.S. adults said they struggle to buy a gift for Dad and he is the most difficult family member to shop for. Forty-three percent of you struggle to pick out a gift for Mom, while 42 percent of you find buying a gift for your spouse or significant other a challenge.dogs1.jpg
    And good luck keeping your gift a secret once you finally pick one out. The survey found that almost one in five U.S. adults are “Present Peekers” — meaning they want to know what’s in the box before you want them to find out. Women are worse than men when it comes to peeking — with 21 percent being “Present Peekers” versus 15 percent of men.
    But apparently patience comes with age — almost one-third of those aged 18 to 34 are “Present Peekers”, while just 12 percent of adults aged 35 and older qualify as peekers.

Amazon fueling XBox 360 frenzy

Seeking to shake up online buying excitement in advance of the full onslaught of holiday shopping, Amazon.com is launching a get-out-the-vote campaign on its Web site.
The online retailer is giving consumers a chance to vote on which popular, heavily discounted item it should offer during a series of deals over the next four weeks.
Potential bargains announced on Thursday include a Microsoft XBox 360 Core System for $100 instead of $299.99 and Mattel‘s 12 Dancing Princesses dolls for $10 each instead of $49.84.
Customers can vote once per week and after the voting period when the winning deal is announced, shoppers can click to purchase the item. But Amazon is limiting how many items are sold — 1,000 XBox 360s and 2,000 princesses, for example.
Jupiter Research analyst Patti Freeman Evans said the “doorbuster” tactic — in which retailers offer big deals, spurring shoppers to break down shop doors — was new for Amazon.
Besides the hope of spurring sales, Amazon will gain valuable input about consumer preferences and the level of interest in certain items can help plan future promotions, she said.
In one spirited online forum discussion, online poster Joseph King wondered if the contest simply came down to greed versus generosity.
“Do I want that XBox 360 for myself at a great price, or do I want to get Christmas gifts for five kids?” he pondered.
Based on responses, it looks like greed was winning.