retail watch

Thanksgiving Holiday Sales Are a Mixed Bag of 'Good' and 'Could Have Been Better'

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 2, 2013 04:52 PM

It’s tricky to find consensus on the success of this weekend’s spending, but one thing is a fact—Black Friday marked the first billion-dollar-plus day of this year’s holiday shopping season.

Accorind to comScore, consumers spent $1.2 billion online, with sales up 18.9 percent this year from last as retailers pushed their open hours from Friday to Thanksgiving day.

"Consumers appear to have responded to retailers' strong push to get them in the stores and online early this year," Shawn DuBravac, CEA chief economist and senior director of research, told USA Today. "The dust is still settling, but early indications point to a weekend of record-breaking online sales and a healthy appetite for key tech products."

ShopperTrak reports that sales were off 13.2 percent on Black Friday, but with more stores open earlier on Thanksgiving this year, and for longer hours, the combined sales of Thursday and Friday were actually up 2.3 percent over the same two days last year. Still, a more somber take from the National Retail Federation puts the weekend spend at about $1.7 billion less than in 2012. “There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face,” Matthew Shay, CEO, NRF, told the New York Times. “So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets.”Continue reading...

retail watch

Brands Set Off on All Out Marketing Blitz in Race for Black Friday Sales

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 27, 2013 07:02 PM

Thanksgiving is a time to share with loved ones, express gratitude, and take stock of the ad frenzy that is holiday shopping. And with brands turning the clock forward on Black Friday promos, marketing teams are in an all-out race to grab the attention of savings-hungry consumers. 

According to research from Shareablee, of the top 25 retailers on Facebook in the first half of November, Walmart accounted for 27 percent of the total shares by fans, followed by QVC with 9 percent, and Macy’s and Nordstrom at 8 percent. On Twitter, BestBuy is dominant with 30 percent of retweets in the category, followed by Nordstrom at 9 percent, Ebay and Target at 8 percent respectively and Walmart at 6 percent.

Target has outpaced all retail competition with six times more Black Friday posts than any other brand, while JCPenney’s one Black Friday post earned the highest level of engagement with over 54,000 likes, comments and shares.  

Are you planning on braving the crowds? If so, here's some offers to keep an eye out for:Continue reading...

retail watch

JCPenney Heads Into Holiday Shopping Season with Sales Gain, Cheapest Pants in Town

Posted by Dale Buss on November 20, 2013 05:07 PM

JCPenney finally reported seeing a silver lining in its financial results. Which is only appropriate, considering that the brand also released its new, glittery holiday advertising campaign, the first national effort under new CMO Debra Berman.

The beleaguered chain reported a wider third-quarter loss than a year ago, but investors cheered the results nonetheless, sending JCPenney stock higher on Wednesday. That was because, while the company nearly quadrupled its quarterly losses, part of it was the toll necessary for JCPenney to continue to reverse many of the huge changes to its marketing, merchandising, product and promotion policies and programs under former CEO Ron Johnson, who was ousted last spring.

Besides, JCPenney's first monthly same-store sales gain in nearly two years came in October. That meant the brand finally may be stanching the bleeding of the last two years. Quarterly revenues still dipped by nearly 5 percent for the retailer, but executives were able to report that the defection of customers and loyalty to the brand may finally have bottomed out during the period.Continue reading...

black friday

Target Deploys Black Ops as Latest Holiday Sales Season Tactic

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 19, 2013 11:36 AM

Target is hoping you have a holly, jolly, CIA espionage Christmas.

With the holiday selling season looking to be one of the most cutthroat in memory, is it any surprise that one of the biggest names in retail is turning to an ex-CIA covert specialist?

"I really don’t know a thing about merchandising, but I do have a son. They convinced me that a lot of the skills I acquired over the years could help moms treat Christmas like a covert operation," former CIA operative, Jonna Mendez, said in a recent interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Mendez—a career "Chief of Disguise" for the CIA—will be dispensing advice on Target's sub-site Abullseyeview.com on how her “years spent as a top-secret agent" can benefit parents looking for the perfect Christmas gift. 

Target's hiring of Mendez may be a genuine attempt to find new sales tactics amid a grim consumer spending outlook, or it might just be a PR stunt to attract coverage like the Star-Tribune's. After all, the list of shopping tips "from the super sleuth" seem to stem a lot more from Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective than from the bowels of Langley, Va.Continue reading...

campaigns

Gap Gets Praise for Culturally-Inclusive Holiday Campaign

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 18, 2013 11:12 AM

Gap has put its own spin on holiday cheer with this year's #MakeLove campaign featuring artists and activists who are making a difference in the world.

The retailer has received praise for featuring a diverse group of personalities in its print and digital adverts, from rapper Q-Tip to artist and civil rights icon Harry Belafonte, and music celebebrities including Tony Bennett, Kenna, Cyndi Lauper and Billy Porter. It has especially received attention for featuring the face of Indian-American designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia in all 866 Gap retail stores in the US, online and on social media, in which he wears a traditional Sikh turban.

Ahluwalia has become one of the most prominent Sikh celebrities in America through his House of Waris line and appearances in films such as Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic and Spike Lee’s Inside Man.

Consumers have reacted positively to the inclusive campaign on social media:Continue reading...

retail watch

Macy's Gets In the Holiday Spirit as Walmart Wrestles with Consumer Grinch

Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2013 05:42 PM

Divergent third-quarter sales results from Macy's and Walmart spell two different tales for the retailers. But they also bespeak one America—a consumer public that is really honing in on deals as holiday shopping enters the most crucial period.

Macy's surprised its Wall Street followers with a 22 percent profit surge for the period and same-store sales growth of 3.5 percent, just one quarter after its earnings results missed analysts' expectations for the first time in six years. The chain and analysts credited, in part, good response by management to economic and consumer trends and a determined execution of its strategic blueprint that calls for expansion of the My Macy's localized-merchandise platform and omnichannel retailing, among other things.

But there was no mistaking the main reason for Macy's better-than-expected results: It did a better-than-expected job of appealing to financially strapped middle America with discounts and other promotions.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: GM, Crocs, Snapchat and more

Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2013 09:14 AM

In the News

GM could see exit of CEO Dan Akerson next year, Reuters says.

Crocs considers ways to go private.

Snapchat becomes one of most sought-after tech businesses after reportedly turning down $3 billion buyout from Facebook. 

AT&T creates mystery of locked, used iPhones.

Alitalia prepares restructuring aimed at getting more resources out of Air France.

American Airlines and US Airways set up major-airport route grab with their merger as deal cruises through courts.

Ateliers Pleyel stops piano production in France.

Baidu faces suits over video piracy.

Boeing sees unionists reject new labor deal for 777X production.

Burberry is weighed down by beauty business.

Cisco tells of big revenue dropoff in emerging markets.

Cracker Barrel shareholders reject activist's third bid to be on board.Continue reading...

app watch

Macy's Adds Scan-and-Shop App to Holiday Season Arsenal

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 7, 2013 11:53 AM

The omniscience of mobile devices has Macy’s adding visual recognition technology to its already robust mobile initiatives to help customers find and buy merchandise more easily and quickly.

“Retail has become a blur. And the blurring is 100 percent driven by technology,” commented Tige Savage, a partner at VC firm Revolution. “Are you at the store? Or is the store at you? And then there’s mobile, the store is in your pocket. The game is to satisfy demand wherever and whenever it is.”  

Cutting through the e-tail clutter and focused on the next iteration of ‘gifting on the go,’ Macy’s Star Gifts app lets consumers scan a catalog, magazine ad or outdoor billboard for product information, tips and instant purchasing power.

"Visual recognition technology is the next evolution of our mobile strategy,” said Martine Reardon, Macy's CMO. "This new application of technology will assist us in delivering helpful and relevant content to mobile shoppers while at the same time providing them with the opportunity to get their holiday shopping done with ease."Continue reading...

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