Entries in Retail (28)


Retailers Justify Price Hike with Cheap Stitching, Buttons

Jochen Sand/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Parents and kids shopping for that new outfit for the first day of school may be surprised by the sudden price hike at some popular stores.

Retailers are raising prices on clothing during this back-to-school season by an average of 10 percent to offset the rising costs of labor and materials.

Many retailers are worried that more of their customers are cash-strapped and will balk at the higher prices, so they are using creative ways to pump up their profits.

"Let the consumer trickery begin," said Brian Sozzi, a retail analyst for Wall Street Strategies.

Some stores are adding cheap stitching or buttons to justify the hike, while others are using less-expensive fabric and calling it a new look. Those embellishments can add pennies to $1 to the cost of a garment, but retailers can charge $10 more for them, according to Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with market research firm The NDP Group.

"Stores are making consumers believe they're getting more for their money," said Cohen. Abercrombie & Fitch, one of the most popular brands among teens, is one of the retailers raising prices. This year the brand is advertising a "Redesigned 2012" jean collection that features "softer" jeans with "the perfect amount of stretch." They are priced between $78 and $88, $10 more than they were last year.

Eric Cerny, a spokesman for Abercrombie & Fitch, declined to comment, but reiterated what executives recently told investors -- increases will happen in September and the chain will not sacrifice quality to achieve cost reductions.

Sozzi examined the jeans and said he believes they are thinner and "of cheaper quality." The extra stretch, he says, could mean the company is saving costs by using less denim.

Production and labor costs are expected to rise 10 percent to 20 percent in the second half of the year, even though they have remained low for almost two decades. Costs can quickly add up -- raw materials account for 25-50 percent of the cost of garments, while labor accounts for 20-40 percent, according to analysts.

After the price for girls' corduroy pants almost doubled, Lands' End, based in Dodgeville, Wis., raised the price of the pants from $7 to $34.50. The company also added buttons and extra stitching to dress them up.

"Consumers are going to notice the price differences," said Lands' End spokeswoman Michele Casper. "But they are also going to get a lot of added benefits so they know they're not getting shortchanged."  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Thursday's Trading Produces Gains with Positive News on Jobs, Retail Sales

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An encouraging jobs report and robust retail sales kept the rally going for the markets Thursday.

The Dow closed up 93 points, the Nasdaq added 39 and the S&P gained 14.

Consumers took advantage of summer bargains last month that resulted in robust sales for Target, Costco, The Limited and other national retail chains. Retailers hope Americans are still in the mood to spend in about a month from now, in time for back-to-school shopping.

It's still tough to find a job, but that could be changing.  Payroll processor ADP says private companies hired more people last month than they did in May.

And a drop in first-time jobless claims is another positive sign.  Unemployment claims dropped last week to the lowest level in seven weeks.  The June numbers are due out on Friday. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Payrolls Add 244,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Back at 9%

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The nation’s employers increased payrolls by 244,000 during the month of April, beating economists’ expectations, a government report showed Friday.

The private sector, which factors out government layoffs and hiring, saw 268,000 workers added to payrolls -- the best monthly jobs growth from the private sector since February 2006.

The nation’s unemployment rate jumped, however, from 8.8 to 9 percent.

"The reason you get that," said economist Hugh Johnson, "is even though you get a very strong increase in the number of jobs, you get a much bigger increase in the labor force," or the number of those who are actively pursuing work.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Snag Weekend Shopping Deals and Steals

David Woolley/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- We all work hard for our money, so every smart cookie hunts for great deals. We rounded up some of the best for this weekend.

Gap stores: Soft Trench - This weekend is the first in a series of "Flashion" sales, which will take place throughout spring in stores only. First up is a bargain on Gap's soft trench in grey and black. Regularly $89.95, on March 5 only it's just $50.

HauteLook: Save $10 When You Spend $50 - This is one of the leading private sale sites for designer clothing and accessories at deep discounts -- typically 50 to 70 percent off. For today (March 4) only, HauteLook is giving "GMA" viewers an additional discount of $10 with your purchase of $50. The promo code is GMAMARCH4.

Kohl's Online Goldstar Clearance Sales - This weekend a variety of departments feature slashed prices by up to 80 percent, and shipping is just 99 cents on many purchases.

T.G.I. Friday's Meal Deals - Now through March 7, receive $5 off any $15 food purchase. Through March 9, buy one entrée and get one free with the purchase of an appetizer. You must present coupon at time of ordering. 50 percent off online orders - is the largest provider of online restaurant content, with an online ordering system for more than 4,600 restaurants nationwide. Now through Sunday, use promo code HUNGRYGMA upon checkout to save 50 percent off your online order of up to $40. (Limit one per customer; savings limited to a maximum of $20 per order. Cannot be combined with other offers.)

Moo cards: Buy 100, Get 100 Free - A business card company has an amazing deal now through Sunday: buy 100 cards (use their templates or design and upload your own) and receive 100 cards free. That's a savings of $50 for two-sided cards that can be used for business, playdates, or personal calling cards. Access the deals at

Walmart and Dr. Seuss Books - Now through the end of March, in celebration of Dr. Seuss' 107th birthday and the "Read Across America" program, Walmart is selling Dr. Seuss books in stores and online for as low as $5, and for as much as 40 percent off. With online sales, shipping is free.

Weekend Shopping Deals: Web-Extra Savings

SAMY Fat Foam Hair Color - From March 4 to March 6, save 50 percent off the suggested retail price of $9.99 at using code 50off.

Philosophy Makeup - To celebrate Philosophy's 15th birthday, save 30 percent off select makeup on with code fabulousyou on March 4 only.

Remington Shaver - Enter code GMA from March 4 to March 6 on to get a Remington King of Shaves handle for a penny with the purchase of two King of Shaves replacement cartridges AND free shipping on all products site-wide.

Ann Taylor Spring Savings - Save 25 percent online and in stores on any two full-price items or save 40 percent off three or more full-price items. Use code ANNSTYLE now through March 6.

Enterprise Deals on Wheels - Rent an economy or compact car for three days -- Friday, Saturday, and Sunday -- and return early Monday morning for only $9.99 a day, not including tax, for up to 100 miles a day. This is offered at the majority of Enterprise's 5,000 neighborhood locations, but not at airports. No promotional code necessary but reserve with advance to ensure availability. Offer good through May 24, 2011.

The Limited Suit Sale - Save $100 off any pant or skirt suit purchase as part of a semi-annual event for suits. Available in stores and online through March 6. No promotional code necessary.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Just How Big Is the Threat of Inflation?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The price of gasoline is up sharply in recent days.  Food inflation is also rising, but a new report released Monday finds that most other prices remain under control.

Richard Wobbekind of the National Association for Business Economics says the problem seems more scary than it really is.

"I call this the great disconnect," he says.  "When I go to the grocery store, I have a heart attack.  And when I go to the gas pump, I'm looking at gas prices that have risen dramatically in the past year.  Looking at those two think I'm saying, 'Boy everything costs a lot more.'"

But Wobbekind adds that when we look at the overall picture, we see that things like housing are included in that larger view.

"Of course, housing costs have been going down."

Many consumer electronics products are also cheaper, experts say.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


JCPenney Accused of Gaming Google

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- You'd better think twice before trying to game Google.

For websites that want to be found with the web's most popular search engine, the company lays out some very specific guidelines. But color outside the lines, and you might find that your prime page-one search ranking has slipped to the barely-visible back pages on Google.

In a recent search engine showdown, Google buried several JCPenney links in its search rankings after learning that the company was accused of employing so-called "black-hat tactics" to get a leg up online.

To dominate rankings for search terms like "black dress," "bedding," "area rugs" and other consumer searches, JCPenney allegedly paid to have thousands of links added to hundreds of websites across the Web, according to The New York Times. Some of the sites featuring JCPenney links were, and other sites that had little to do with Penny's business, the Times reported.

The additional links to JCPenney pages boosted the retailer's presence on the Internet because Google's algorithms consider a site more search-worthy if it looks more popular online. But paying for links is a big Google no-no.

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News. But after learning of JCPenney's search scheme from The New York Times, Google confirmed the tactics violated its guidelines and told the Times that it would bury the rankings as a penalty.

JCPenney says it was not aware of the illicit links.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Grocery Shopping Isn't Just for Supermarkets Anymore

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The next time you need groceries, you might not need to shop at a grocery store. CVS and Walgreens are both getting into the grocery game in a big way, in order to cater to customers' needs, as well as their wants.

Studies show people shop for drugstore items only about once a month, but they shop for food two or more times per week. Drugstores are hoping that when you come in for milk and eggs, you'll also pick up some greeting cards or DVDs.

"We wanted to develop a daily healthy and living solutions store," Mark Wagner, president of operations and community management for Walgreens, told ABC News.

It's working. Drug stores that have added more food are attracting more customers and making more money.

"It's been very successful when you look at it from a financial aspect, but it's been even more successful when you look at it from a community aspect," Wagner added.

So it's good for the stores, but it is good for the customers?

"Some of my best grocery store deals have come from drugstores," said Chrissy Pate, co-founder of, a forum for the best grocery deals around the country.

"The drugstores offer lots of store incentives and that's what makes them different than the grocery stores and big box chains -- you're going to find lots of store coupons, lots of rebate programs and lots of store credit," she said. "And that's how you can really get some rock-bottom prices."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Retail Sales Rose in 2010

Photo Courtesy - National Retail Federation(WASHINGTON) -- Retail spending tailed off a bit at the end of December, but 2010 was strong on the whole.

According to an industry report released Thursday, retailers had their strongest holiday gains in four years as sales at malls and shopping centers rose nearly four percent in 2010. A blizzard in the midwest and northeast took a bite out of store sales at the end of last month, but a strong November more than offset a slightly weaker than expected result for December sales.

Mesirow Financial Chief Economist Diane Swonk is excited about the new numbers, saying "the economy is clearly accelerating. Consumers that do have jobs are feeling better about the economy and spending more."

December sales are three percent higher than 2009, but Mesirow says not everything is rosy. "The bad news is oil prices, energy prices crept up over the course of the holiday season. Prices at the pump, in particular, soared in the last few weeks of December and that forced consumers to make trade-offs in their spending."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chaos at the Mall as Post-Holiday Shopping Season Begins

Image Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Even before Christmas Day was over, the post-holiday push was under way. Retailers spent Christmas blitzing shoppers with email, desperate to keep a good thing going.

If sales continue to be strong over the next week, this holiday shopping season could be the best ever, despite the bad economy. Americans in 2007 spent a record $453 billion on holiday shopping. After a two-year dip, the numbers this year are creeping back.

The National Retail Federation predicts seasonal sales will top $451 billion dollars – a jump of more than 3 percent over last year.

So what’s the best strategy for post-Christmas shopping? Experts say consumers should check the web before checking the stores. Shoppers have spent more than $36 billion buying online this season, driven by discounts and free shipping – offers that continue this week, meaning you may not even have to brave the stores to get the best deal.

Getting people into the stores over the next few days is a big concern for retailers. Analysts are worried that bad weather across the country could keep people away and seriously impact stores’ bottom lines as retailers close out their holiday shopping seasons.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


After Christmas Sales Could Lure Shoppers Back

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  With Christmas Day having finally arrived, the time will soon come for those who received to hit the stores to spend those gift cards and deftly return those unwanted items.

One of the major advantages of the season is the deals, discounts and bargains that stores offer to shoppers who flood in after the biggest gift-giving day of the year.

Some of the country's biggest retailers are prepared for the onslaught of customers. Best Buy and Sears have both announced sales that will begin on Dec. 26, while many stores are lengthening their operating hours to accommodate as many customers as possible.

After two down years, this year's Christmas season will go down as the holiday Americans decided to shop again. A strong Christmas Eve helped bolster spectacular sales for retailers, and the National Retail Federation predicts spending this holiday season will reach $451.5 billion, which is 3.3 percent up from last year.

This holiday season marks the biggest bump since 2006, and the largest total since a record $452 billion was spent in 2007. The holiday season runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, so a strong week after Christmas could still make this the biggest of all time.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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