Entries in Retail (28)


Fat Shaming of Middle America: Americans Too Big for Zara Clothes

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Spanish fashion chain Zara, now the world's largest retailer, is being accused of missing a "huge opportunity" in the United States by refusing to offer plus-size clothing to women.

Zara has beaten out major retailers like Forever 21 or H&M in the "fast fashion" market, which introduces a new line of fashion-forward, low cost clothing every two weeks. But one thing you won't find on their racks at the chain's stores across America is larger sizes. According to a recent New York Times article, that is no design flaw. Larger sizes cost more to make.

Across the globe there are nearly 1,700 Zara stores, but in the U.S, there are only a few dozen, and experts say Zara isn't expanding more in the U.S. because the country has a problem with expanding waistlines. More than one-third of U.S. adults -- 35.7 percent -- are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. France, by comparison had an 11.3 percent obesity rate in 2004, the lowest in Europe.


Fashion bloggers Shainna Tucker and Alissa Wilson, who are both size 18 and say they can usually fit into XL or 1XL, told ABC News that though they are frustrated that large retailers continue to "ignore" their sector and said "our money is as good as anyone else's," they add that it's something the fashion brand is actually able to get away with.

"They feel like they can," Wilson said. "As if plus-sized women are like aliens, we came from Mars [or] somewhere."

On a shopping trip to Zara, both Tucker and Wilson said that they weren't able to fit into the clothing.

Although Americans are in fact more obese than the populations of most foreign countries, unlike Zara, other European and Japanese retailers have seized the American waistline by the belt, and are making millions.

"Zara is missing a huge opportunity here in the United States," Adweek's Tony Chase said. "H&M and Uniqlo have done tremendous business here. Other retailers have done it here. I don't know why it would be an issue for Zara, and they have done business here."

Chase adds that the retailer already has 45 stores in the U.S., and that other retailers that do offer plus-sizes are on target to have more stores, and expand even further.

"I don't know why in this sector, the fast fashion sector, the retailer would opt to not be aggressive," he said. "Why are you even playing if you are not going to be aggressive in a market?"

Still, there are plenty of women that are just a size 6 or a size 8, but in Zara, they are large and extra large.

"If [a size 8 is] trying on an extra large -- imagine us," Wilson said. "We are going in there with our MacGyver eye – like, 'how can we make this work.'"

Tucker and Wilson have found some innovative ways to make the clothes at Zara work for them, by turning a skirt into a tube top, and even finding ways into the smaller sizes, like buying the store's tops because they are more likely to fit than a bottom.

They say that the brands' petite-sized clothing is no match for their quest for the perfect find.

"I still love Zara as a brand," Tucker said. "To be perfectly honest, if the options they have are still trendy, it is still a place to go look. I love their handbags and shoes. I still have a place somewhere in my heart for Zara."

When contacted by ABC News, a representative for Zara said that the retailer's "expansion pace in the U.S. market remains as planned, with several new openings scheduled for next year." The representative did not comment on ABC News' queries on sizing considerations within the U.S.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Abercrombie and Fitch, Other Retail Workers Protest 'Abusive' Scheduling

Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Employees of Abercrombie & Fitch, Best Buy and other retailers protested Wednesday along New York City's posh Fifth Avenue shopping district against what they call "abusive" work scheduling.

Bintou Kamara, 22, a cashier at Abercrombie & Fitch, started a petition with the labor group Retail Action Project on last week to request an end to "erratic scheduling" and "abusive on-call shifts" that leave workers waiting by the phone for work that sometimes does not come.

Kamara, a full-time college student, said many retail workers are required to keep their schedules open, to be available at the whim of their managers.

She said that part-time workers at her location on Fifth Avenue had to call two hours before their shifts were to begin to inquire whether they were needed at work.

"Most of the time, you have to wait and sit there," she said.

To support her younger sister in high school and send money to her family in Togo, Kamara said she had to get a second part-time job as a home health aide.

She said many of the workers on strike are young and in similar situations.

"They feel like we can't do anything, we can't fight back and it's a big company," she said.

Ricah Norman, a former employee of a Best Buy store in Maryland, also protested in New York City.

The 23-year-old Norman, currently a student at an online university and looking for a job, said she had to quit school because she could not support herself while working two part-time jobs.

She said she tried to request a regular schedule, but her managers could not help.

"They basically said, 'That's the way the business is.'"

She said she has also tried to seek full-time employment, but many companies she has contacted are hiring only part-time employees.

"Retailers in general need to get back to the days when they scheduled people a correct amount of hours and allowed them to have a personal life while supporting families with sufficient wages and hours, instead of revolving their lives around the companies," she said.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Best Buy did not immediately return requests for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Retail and Earnings Reports Give Stocks a Boost

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After what was the worst week in more than four months, the market rebounded with a push from increased retail sales and earnings from Citigroup that surpassed expectations.

On Monday, the Dow rose 95 points to close at 13,424, the largest daily advancement the index has seen in more than a month. The Nasdaq closed up 20 to 3,064, while the S&P rose 11.5 points to 1,440.

Retail sales, which drive about two-thirds of the U.S. economy, rose sharply in September, as Americans bought more cars, gasoline and electronics.

Meanwhile, Citigroup beat Wall Street predictions for quarterly earnings after stripping out a big loss on its retail brokerage and other charges. The company's stock rose 5.5 percent to $36.66.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


September Retail Sales Post 5.4-Percent Rise

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Adding to the mix of improving economic news is the retail sales report from the Commerce Department Monday.

Sales in September were better than expected -- up 1.1 percent from the previous month and 5.4 percent above September 2011. This is the third straight month of improving retail sales.

Consumer spending drives about two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

According to economist Diane Swonk, improving home prices are playing a part in Monday’s report, which she says has been “one of the largest positive moves for consumers over last six months.”

The report shows big increases in electronics and appliances; Apple’s iPhone 5 helped boost this sector.

Retail sales outside of autos, gasoline and building materials -- known as core retail sales -- rose 0.9 percent last month.

As with all the positive economic news these days, there are some caveats.  Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, points out that “consumers are likely dipping into savings to pay for the increased spending -- we need more jobs to sustain this spending.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Online Holiday Sales Boom for Retailers

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The retail industry is putting the finishing touches on its plans for the holiday shopping season. A big consumer trend is almost certain to continue this fall with online sales taking a bigger share of retail dollars.

“We’re predicting 15-17 percent growth outside of the stores themselves,” says Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman and U.S. Retail & Distribution leader at Deloitte consulting. “Online via mobile via catalog – that’s where the real robust growth is going to continue to come from.” 

The firm’s annual holiday season shopping survey forecasts only a modest increase in sales compared with last year. Sales at many stores could be flat, but “retailers are really using mobile communications as a mainstream marketing tool much more than they have in the past,” says Paul.

Shoppers will spend on big gifts but may cut back elsewhere. “Economic headwinds nagging consumers this fall include stubbornly high gasoline prices that continue to creep up and soft housing and job markets,” said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Wears a Jason Wu for Target Dress

Alex Wong/Getty Images/Target(OCOEE, Fla.) -- Designer Jason Wu’s line for Target sold out hours after it went on sale online, but it looks as if Michelle Obama managed to snag one of the coveted dresses from the collection.

The first lady sported the Sleeveless Chiffon Dress in Navy Floral, which retails for $39.99, over the weekend during a tour for her “Let’s Move” campaign in Florida.

The first lady wore the dress to dinner at the Halls family’s Ocoee, Fla., home, accessorizing it with a bright blue cardigan and trading the gold belt for a red one of her own.

The first lady has been known to mix high-priced designer items from designers such as Wu, Lanvin and Isabela Toledo, with pieces from retailers like J. Crew.

Wu’s Capsule Collection for Target includes delicate dresses and tops, pleated skirts, scarves, handbags and clutches, all for $60 or less. Items from Wu’s regular line can cost $5,000 in luxury department stores.

The young designer has Michelle Obama to thank for putting him on the map. The first lady famously wore Wu’s white, one-shoulder silk chiffon dress to President Obama’s 2009 inaugural ball, catapulting the designer into the national spotlight. That dress is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Since then, the first lady has continued to wear Wu’s designs, notably a magenta dress on the March 2009 cover of Vogue, and a Wu dress and cardigan to an event with the G20 spouses in April 2009.

The first lady is also a fan of Target. She was seen at suburban Virginia Target in September, where she reportedly bought food and toys for first pooch Bo.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


18-to-25-Year-Olds Prefer Shopping in Stores Rather than Online

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You’d think people in the 18-to-25-year-old age group would be active online shoppers, but a new survey finds 68 percent of them actually prefer shopping in stores for clothing and shoes rather than on the Internet.

The survey by LIM College and the NRF Student Association also finds that just 23 percent of the 18-to-25-year-olds shop from a smartphone or tablet.  But while most people in that age group prefer to shop in stores, 66 percent of them do use the Internet to browse and compare prices.

Additional findings from the survey:

  •     People in the 18-to-25-year-old age group are not as impulsive as commonly believed.  The survey found that 66 percent like to think about their purchase before buying.
  •     Only 20 percent of respondents shop from flash sales sites such as Rue La La and Gilt Groupe.  In fact, the majority of 18-to-25-year-olds are not even aware of them.
  •     56 percent of the age group pay for most of their purchases with debit cards rather than cash or credit cards.
  •     Many in the age group will “like” a brand on Facebook, but more than 88 percent do not yet want to shop thru Facebook or Twitter.

The survey involved 310 primarily female 18-to-25-year-olds.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Forever 21 Criticized for ‘Oriental Girl Necklace’

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Forever 21(NEW YORK) -- Forever 21 has the Internet buzzing with an “Oriental Girl Necklace” that some shoppers are calling offensive for its stereotypical depiction of an Asian woman and the use of the outdated term “oriental.”

The charm is of a white-faced girl with her black hair styled in two buns over her ears. It is on sale for $1.50 on the Forever 21 website.

There is debate, however, in the online world about whether the item is offensive or racist. Many of those who believe it is offensive comment that the issue is with the word “oriental,” which is often regarded as a derogatory word when referring to people.

“Apparently, Forever 21 thinks that people want to wear outdated, cultural stereotypes as necklaces, and that it’s okay to sell them,” wrote Dhani Mau of style website “Fashionista.”

Others think the criticism is an over-reaction and say the charms aren’t offensive.

One commenter wrote, “People need to grow thicker skin, get a sense of humor and stop yelling racism at every little thing.”

Forever 21 did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cultural caricatures were the target of a recent effort by an Ohio University student group poster campaign denouncing “racist” Halloween costumes.

The posters showed students of a different ethnicities holding photographs of an offensive costume. An Asian girl holds an image of someone dressed up as a geisha. A Mexican boy holds a photo of someone in a sombrero, colorful poncho and exaggerated mustache riding a stuffed donkey.

Each poster has two sentences on it: “We’re a culture, not a costume,” and “This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”

“Fashionista” also spotted a necklace in a Forever 21 store with a Native American girl charm that is not available online. This charm has a tan-skinned girl with exaggerated rosy cheeks sporting her hair in two braids and wearing a “traditional” Native American dress.

Urban Outfitters was recently slammed by the Navajo Nation for its ‘Navajo’ line that included the “Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask” and the “Navajo Hipster Panty.” Under pressure, the company eventually dealt with the situation by replacing the word “Navajo” with “Printed” in the product names, but left the products up.

This is not the first time that Forever 21 has been at the center of a controversy surrounding a product. In September, outraged consumers denounced the brand’s “Allergic to Algebra” shirt marketed to girls and teenagers. The shirt was criticized for sending an anti-education message to girls. The company ultimately pulled the shirt from its website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jason Wu Next Designer ‘Target’ for Retail Giant

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Attention, Target shoppers: Of-the-moment designer and first lady Michelle Obama’s favorite, Jason Wu, is next in line to take on the design-for-the-masses entrepreneurial model, Target announced Monday.

The news was teased on Twitter Sunday night by @TargetStyle and confirmed Monday by the chain in a YouTube video.

“The exciting thing about this limited edition collection of affordable women’s wear and accessories is that it allows me to reach a wider audience and bring my designs to people who may not have been able to purchase them before,” Wu told Women’s Wear Daily.

The young designer broke into the national spotlight nearly three years ago when Michelle Obama wore one of his original designs at the 2009 inaugural ball.

He has remained a favorite of the first lady, who was spotted shopping in a suburban Virginia Target last month.

The first lady was said to have picked up food and toys for first pooch Bo on that trip, but come February, she might also use a Target trip to stock up on Wu-designed clothes and handbags.

Judging by the reaction from the chain’s last collaboration with an A-list fashion house, the Missoni for Target line, shoppers may want to line up now for Wu’s Feb. 5 launch.

The Missoni launch proved that even a retail giant like Target can be overwhelmed by fashion-hungry, discount-seeking fashionistas.

Lines stretched out the doors of Target stores across the country ahead of the Missoni launch, making store aisles quickly bare of the line’s signature, striped clothing and home goods.

The website was also down for hours after shoppers flooded the site to purchase what they couldn’t find in-store. Meanwhile, the savviest of savvy shoppers posted their Missoni for Target purchases on eBay, listing them for hundreds of dollars more than the Target price.

Target has yet to announce the exact details of Wu’s launch, and how they plan to avoid a similar fate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Scary Economy Doesn’t Deter Halloween 2011 Revelers

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BELLEVUE, Wash.) -- Just one month left for shopping before Halloween. The economy might be scary nowadays, but a new survey reveals the average family is expected to spend some $300 on Halloween costumes, décor and celebrations this year.

A Halloween Shopping Survey released by thrift retailer Savers Inc., shows 90 percent of adults are planning to create a brand new look this season rather than repurpose old costumes.  Another 81 percent will purchase new decorations for their home.

Additional findings from the Halloween Shopping Survey:

-- Fifty-four percent of respondents planning to dress up this year will either combine new and secondhand items or make their costume by hand in order to find value.
-- On average, people dressing up for Halloween spend 61 days planning and preparing their costumes.
-- Thirteen percent of respondents plan for Halloween a year or more in advance while 20 percent wait until the last minute to decide on their costume.
-- Pet owners will spend $59 on average dressing up their pets for Halloween
-- Parents on average will spend $32 on a child’s costume.

The Halloween Shopping Survey involved 1,000 adults.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio