Posted tagged ‘Holiday Sales’

Retail Sales in the US…Rise?

February 12, 2009

U.S. retail sales jumped 1 percent in January, reversing a six-month declining trend and defying economists’ expectations by posting the biggest increase in 14 months.

From the Associated Press:

The data are a glimmer of hope for a recession-hit economy, but higher gasoline prices and sales, and buyers snapping up other items on post-holiday discounts, appeared to aid last month’s results. Analysts cautioned that the relief is unlikely to last.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that January retail sales rose 1 percent from December after having fallen for six straight months. Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected January sales to show a drop of 0.8 percent. They plunged a revised lower 3 percent in December, which marked the weakest holiday selling season since at least 1969.

“This is a big surprise, though the net rise in sales is less impressive than it looks because (December and November) were revised down by 0.3 percent each,” Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note. “The headline relief today is welcome but it is unlikely to last.”

The January report shows strong increases in sales of automobiles and in general merchandise stores — the “big box” outlets — though sales by department stores, carrying fewer varieties of items, posted a decline. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, is an example of a discounter that has benefited from strapped consumers’ focus on necessities like groceries and on bargains for other items.

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KB Toys Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

December 12, 2008

KB Toys has filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to close its 277 mall-based stores and 114 outlets. In its Chapter 11 filings, the chain blamed “sudden and sharp decline in consumer sales due to macro-economic concerns.”

From the Associated Press:

In another sign of the grim holiday season, KB Toys filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in four years on Thursday and plans to begin going-out-of business sales at its stores immediately.

The 86-year-old company said in a filing that its debt is “directly attributable to a sudden and sharp decline in consumer sales” because of the poor economy.

That a toy retailer filed for bankruptcy just before Christmas shows how bleak things have become, since such stores make up to half of their sales during the holidays. But analysts expect toy sales this holiday season to be flat or down slightly from last year’s total of $10.4 billion, according to market research firm NPD Group, because consumers are cutting back amid the recession.

In response, toy retailers, including KB Toys, amped up their discounts.

KB Toys had aggressively cut prices to entice cash-strapped shoppers, offering hundreds of toys for $10 or less. It also expanded its value program, which offers deals on new items each week, and offered “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” promotions.

But the deals weren’t enough. In the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, KB Toys said that between Oct. 5 and Dec. 8 sales in stores open at least one year, a key retail metric known as same-store sales, fell nearly 20 percent.

The company said it considered its alternatives and decided the most viable way to cover its debt was to begin liquidating its stores via immediate going-out-of-business sales. KB Toys also plans to sell its wholesale distribution business, according to the filing.

Restaurants Banking on Hungry Shoppers This Holiday Season

December 3, 2008

It’s a great time to be a fan of eating out at your favorite restaurant or quick serve chain. Many in the restaurant industry are rewarding guests this holiday season with free gift cards with the purchase of additional cards for friends, family, co-workers or just about anyone else you can think of.

Client Burgerville is currently offering guests a $5 gift card for every $25 worth of gift cards purchased at any of their 39 locations now through December 31. I’ve always found in my household that gift cards make great gifts so for those of you in the Pacific Northwest, make sure to share that Burgerville taste you love this holiday season!

Check out the Burgerville Facebook page for more information.

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From the Associated Press:

To entice shoppers, chains are increasing their advertising during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, offering freebies to customers who take a break from the stores and giving discounts to anyone who buys a gift card from the restaurant.

“If ever there is a time to actually step up and communicate not only the brand but also the value offerings associated with it, it is now,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association.



Seasonal Holiday Workers Face Fewer Options This Year

December 2, 2008

According to a survey from SnagAJob.com, retail stores plan to hire 33% fewer seasonal employees this year because of the sluggish economy. Many stores also started hiring earlier this year in September or October. “There are some opportunities out there, but there certainly aren’t going to be as many,” said Daniel Butler, a vice president with the National Retail Federation.

From CNN:

Nick Sciscione was standing in line at one of his favorite clothing stores when a cashier asked him if he would like to apply for a job.

With winter break approaching, it seemed like a good idea to Sciscione, an 18-year-old college sophomore who wanted to make some extra cash to spend on essentials like gas, clothes and parking tickets.

Sciscione took an application home, but decided that even though he had a solid offer from the store, he wanted to look for a better opportunity. He picked up an application from another clothing store at the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey. This weekend he plans to look at other places to work between semesters.

“I wouldn’t limit my search to just retail,” said Sciscione, a dance major, adding that he thought he could pick up some hours teaching dance classes.

People like Sciscione might be wise to take the sure thing, said Daniel Butler, a vice president with the National Retail Federation. There are two things working against them: They are a little behind the curve in starting their search, and they will find that many retailers are curtailing the number of seasonal workers they will hire.

The federation forecasts that holiday sales will grow this year by 2.2 percent. The average increase for the past 10 years has been 4.4 percent.

A Web site that tracks hourly workers says managers who are adding staff for the holidays will hire fewer workers, and the number of stores hiring no additional help is increasing.

In a survey commissioned by SnagAJob.com, managers responsible for hiring said they would be bringing on about 33 percent fewer seasonal workers and 20 percent fewer hourly workers for the holidays.

Of 1,006 managers who responded to the survey, 57 percent said they will hire no additional help, 8 percentage points higher than last season.

Butler, who worked in retail for 26 years, said a majority of employers started their seasonal hiring in September or October.

“There are some opportunities out there, but there certainly aren’t going to be as many,” he said. “What happens now with many students is that with their class schedules, they don’t get out in time to be able to work at most stores in retail — unless it is a place they have worked before.”

Butler said that as a hiring manager, when he figured out his seasonal staffing plans, he would first think of who had been on staff and who he knew could come back for the holidays — when many retailers do a huge percentage of their yearly business.

Managers like to bring back such “floaters,” Butler said, because they already know the merchandise and don’t require any training. It’s important to identify during the summer those workers who can come back during November and December so it makes other elements of seasonal planning easier, he said.

Black Friday Starts Holiday Shopping Season with a Bang

December 2, 2008

Individual shoppers spent about 7% more this year than last year from Thursday through Sunday, the NRF found. Shoppers affected by the economic slowdown were more selective than in years past, with many drawn in by deep discounts from retailers. “It seems that not only did retailers do a good job of attracting shoppers, but it seems that shoppers were also excited again to take part in the tradition of Black Friday weekend,” NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis said.

So, if Black Friday was so great, what is the outlook for the rest of the holiday season? Will shoppers continue to spend? Let’s take a look at sales totals in two weeks and see how well retailers are doing at that time. It’s a very sad, and scary time right now with the state of the economy.

From the New York Times:

Sales in the nation’s stores were strong over the weekend, to the relief of retailers that had been expecting a holiday shopping period as slow as the overall economy.

But while spending was up, there were troubling signs in the early numbers. The bargains that drove shoppers to stores were so stunning, analysts said that retailers — already suffering from double-digit sales declines the last two months — would probably see their profits erode even further.

Also, after shoppers flooded stores on Friday, foot traffic trailed off significantly on Saturday and Sunday.

Retailing professionals consider the weekend after Thanksgiving a barometer of overall holiday sales, which account for 25 to 40 percent of their annual sales. And in a year marked by an economic crisis, they are desperate for any signs that consumers are still willing to spend.

Their first glimpse came from two industry surveys released on Sunday. ShopperTrak, which does research for retailers, said sales increased 3 percent on Friday, compared with last year.

The National Retail Federation, adding up sales Thursday through Saturday and projected sales for Sunday, said that each shopper spent about 7 percent more this year than last year. Shoppers spent an average of $372.57 Friday though Sunday, according to the federation, a trade group.