Entries in Shoppers (22)


Retail Foot Traffic Rose 8.2% over Thanksgiving Weekend

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It will almost certainly take several weeks for the retail industry to know if they can celebrate a rise in holiday sales.  But ShopperTrak, a firm that analyzes customer traffic, is out with its estimates.

The Chicago-based company says stores had a strong 8.2 percent rise in foot traffic over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend compared to last year.

Total sales, meanwhile, increased only 2.7 percent from 2011, with shoppers spending about $22 million between Thursday and Sunday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Shrinking Products: Paying the Same for Less

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Big brands are selling smaller products for the same price and one of the many consumers noticing the differences and alerting others is not even old enough to drive.

“I usually feel cheated because I’m paying the same price for less of an item,” Jared Goodman, 13, told ABC News.  “I usually look for labels that say ‘new and improved.’  Because that probably means the product’s been downsized.”

Goodman is part of a growing army of shoppers who are fed up with what’s called “downsizing.”  Consumers from all over the country send their tips to Edgar Dworksy, the founder of, who posts the findings online.

“[Downsizing is] very common,” Dworksy said.  “It’s been going on for years, but there seems to be a surge right now.”

On ABC News’ trip to the supermarket, 14 products were found that had recently gotten smaller.  Here were some of the changes:

  • Kashi cereal had shrunk, with a slightly taller box actually containing less cereal.
  • Boxes of Scott Tissues contained 12 less tissues.
  • There were 48 fewer chocolate chips in Ghirardelli chocolate chips.
  • Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts contained 52 fewer nuts than it had previously.
  • A can of Maxwell House Coffee used to have enough coffee for 270 cups, now it will make only 240. The one thing that didn’t change was the price, it still costs $9.59.
  • Pillsbury Cake mixes were reduced by three ounces. When made as instructed on the package, the old mix made 24 cupcakes; the new one, which costs the same, barely makes 21.
  • Brawny paper towels new roll had four and a half feet fewer paper towels than one of its older rolls.  And again, the price remained the same.

ABC News confronted the manufacturers about the disparity and they said they downsize products because customers prefer that to higher prices.

“We regularly improve Brawny to compete against other well-known towel brands, and last year made Brawny stronger when wet to better meet consumer needs,” Georgia-Pacific, the maker of Brawny, wrote to ABC News.  “To cover the costs of this improvement, we slightly reduced the sheet count and size, and our consumers’ response to these changes have been positive."

“We aim to provide the right value to our consumers -- and may introduce new package sizes or adjust package sizes of our base products (upward or downward) based on delivering the right value,” Lynne Galia from Kraft Foods Corporate Affairs wrote to ABC News.  Kraft makes Maxwell House coffee as well as Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts.

In the end, the power is with the purchaser: consumers can always switch brands, but it’s important to remember that when one brand shrinks, its competitors often do the same.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What to Expect from J.C. Penney’s New Pricing Strategy

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- J.C. Penney is betting that its new “Fair and Square” pricing strategy, which takes effect on Wednesday, will lure customers into the store year-round instead of only at sale and promotion times.

The strategy, announced last week, will feature an "Every Day" low pricing policy, along with "Monthly Value" discounts on select items and "Best Price" discounts twice a month.

Peter Wahlstrom, a senior analyst with investment research firm Morninstar Inc., called J.C. Penney’s three-tier pricing strategy a “dramatic undertaking.”

The company, based in Plano, Texas, will first offer its lowest or “best” prices on the first and third Fridays of every month.

“What the company figured out is customers aren’t coming into the store frequently enough,” Wahlstrom said.  “They’ve been conditioned to only look at things at a discount.”

Informing customers that items will be on sale starting on two specific days a month may help manage shoppers’ expectations and provide some information as to whether prices will be marked down further, Wahlstrom said.

The company will also offer “month-long values” on specific items, which will also help shift the customer mentality of waiting for additional price drops.

Wahlstrom said the month-long pricing strategy could open a can of worms, however, if customers delay making purchases in the hope that items will go on sale later.

Third, other items will be priced in red, indicating everyday, low prices without coupons or weekend sales.  Wahlstrom said the monthly and clearance sale items could be loss-leaders, which means the department store will not make much or any money on them.  But J.C. Penney is counting on customers’ also purchasing products from well-known national brands, such as Martha Stewart and Liz Claiborne.

Wahlstrom said the new pricing strategy “makes sense” for the company’s goals, but the company still has a tough road ahead in proving itself to customers.

“It’s not going to be a straight line.  It’s going to be fairly choppy.  There will be growing pains along the way,” said Wahlstrom.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sign of the Times: J.C. Penney to Offer All Merchandise at 40% Off

Scott Olson/Getty Images(PLANO, Texas) -- J.C. Penney has decided that holding hundreds of sales every year no longer works in today's economy, so beginning on Feb. 1, the retailer will feature markdowns on all items by a minimum of 40 percent.

To consumers, that means a shirt regularly selling for $20 will be $12 -- permanently.

In addition to the "Every Day" low pricing policy, J.C. Penney will also offer "Monthly Value" discounts on select items and "Best Price" discounts on the first and third Fridays of every month -- when people typically get paid.

J.C. Penney's CEO Ron Johnson said the plan is not to undercut competitors but simply to make pricing more predictable.

He also remarked, "Pricing is actually a pretty simple and straightforward thing. Customers will not pay literally a penny more than the true value of the product."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


December Retail Sales Fall Short of Expectations

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales in December rose to $400.6 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent but less than the 0.3 to 0.4 percent many economists had expected, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Customers responded to deep discounts during the holiday season, though analysts are waiting to see if consumers will continue their spending pace in 2012.

The Commerce Department also revised November’s retail sales figure to an 0.4 percent increase from 0.2 percent.  The figure was 6.5 percent above sales in December 2010.

Retail sales were boosted in part by strong car sales in December.  Excluding automobiles, retail sales dropped 0.2 percent.

For the year, total sales increased 7.7 percent from 2010, the strongest year since 1999, Bloomberg reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Experts: Boost in Holiday Shopping Indicates Increased Confidence

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With only five days left before Christmas, holiday shoppers are flooding the malls and local stores.

Nearly half of shoppers have not finished their Christmas shopping yet, according to a National Retail Federation survey, and the traditional biggest shopping days -- Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday -- are all behind us.  The outlook seems to be that it's shaping to be a robust season for the economy.

Experts say this year consumers have the upper hand, as stores opened for extended hours and online vendors offered major discounts, some even with free shipping.

"The holiday season this year favors the consumer," Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation told ABC News.  "Retailers have been very promotional, they know that the average shopper is still looking for a deal, spending on a budget, is very focused on small, discretionary items, basics and necessities."

On Thursday, the National Retail Federation revised its holiday sales forecast upwards from 2.8 percent -- which it had forecast in October -- to 3.8 percent, for a record $469.1 billion.  While this is still below the 5.2 percent for 2010, it's above average for the past decade, and holiday shopping isn't even over.

Experts say that despite the tough job market and the weak stock and house prices, Christmas is shaping up to be surprisingly strong for retailers.

"Households are spending with some gusto," said Mark Zandi, Chief Economist for Moody's Analytics.

Zandi told ABC News that increased confidence is helping both low and high income households finally start spending after long holding off.

"A solid Christmas buying season will set a very positive tone for the economy going into 2012," Zandi said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


November Retail Sales Fall Short; Rise Just 0.2%

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Shoppers spent more on consumer electronics, furniture and clothing during the first month of the holiday shopping season according to the latest government report, but sales dropped at restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales in November rose only 0.2 percent -- less than what many economists had predicted.

Despite the modest gain, last month's increase marked the sixth straight month retail sales have gone up.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exposed: Tricks Retailers Use to Lure Shoppers into Spending More

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the battle for a piece of the $465 billion pie the National Retail Federation estimates shoppers will spend this holiday season, some stores will try to entice people with massive sales promotions and other gimmicks.

Shopping blogger Dan de Granpre, the founder and CEO of, shared with ABC News the top ways stores will get us to spend money this year:

1. The Fake Sale or Never-Ending Sale: Stores keep items marked down year-round.

“It’s the never-ending sale because it is always on sale at that price,” he said.  “If it’s always 50 percent off, it’s never 50 percent off.”

2. The Mark-Ups: Retailers mark-up prices simply so they can mark them down.  It makes buyers believe they are getting a good deal when they’re not.

3. The Make and Model Mismatch: Stores offer to match a competitor’s sales price, but not really.
“Depends on the product, but there is often a technicality, where the model number is very slightly different,” de Granpre said.  “That’s all they need to be able to say.”

4. The Disappearing Carrot: Stores lure buyers in with a super cheap sale item, but they only have a few in stock.  So when buyers get to the store, the item is sold out, but then they are encouraged to shop around.

5. The Buy One, Get One: This pushes shoppers towards buying something they may not need, and most of the time the second item that’s half off will be a cheaper brand.

Some stores are now even secretly placing special cameras with facial recognition technology in front of display cases, so they can tell what buyers are eyeballing as they check out the goods.  This helps stores figure out how to rearrange display cases and get buyers to spend more.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Holiday Shopping: 31 Black Friday Store Openings

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you are trying to plan your Black Friday hunt, check out this list of 31 store openings across the country from smaller specialty stores to large national chains, as first collected by

1. AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service): 4 a.m. Friday
2. Academy Sports + Outdoors: 5 a.m. Friday
3. Ace Hardware: Hours vary by store
4. A.C. Moore: 5 a.m. Friday, with some exceptions
5. Babies "R" Us: 5 a.m. Friday
6. Banana Republic: Midnight Friday, many stores
7. Bass Pro Shops: 6 a.m. Friday
8. Best Buy: Midnight Friday
9. BJ's: 7 a.m. Friday
10. Cabela's: 5 a.m. Friday
11. Costco: 9 a.m. Friday
12. Express: Midnight Friday
13. GameStop: Midnight Friday, with some stores open at 5 a.m
14. Gap: Midnight Friday in most stores
15. Gordmans: 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday
16. Half Price Books: 7 a.m. Friday
17. JCPenney: 4 a.m. Friday
18. Kmart: 6.a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday in most markets; 5 a.m. Friday to 11 p.m. nationwide
19. Kohl's: Midnight Friday
20. Macy's: 4 a.m. Friday
21. Michaels: 4 to 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving and 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. Friday
22. Office Max: 6 a.m. Friday
23. Old Navy: 9 a.m. Thanksgiving and midnight Friday
24. Pep Boys: 6 a.m. Friday
25. Rite Aid: 7 a.m. Thanksgiving (at select stores) through 11:59 p.m. Friday
26. Sam's Club: 5 a.m. Friday
27. Sears: 4 a.m. Friday
28. Staples: 6 a.m. Friday
29. Target: Midnight to 11 p.m. Friday
30. Toys "R" Us: 9 p.m. Thursday
31. Walmart: 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woe, Woe, Woe: Shoppers Fretting About Finances this Holiday Season

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Consumers feel worse about their finances than last year, with 41 percent saying they plan to spend less during the holidays, according to a new survey.

Retailers are hoping for a busy Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season, which traditionally contributes 20 percent to annual retail sales.

Overall, only 8 percent of shoppers plan to spend more than they did last year, according to the 12th annual survey released Monday by the Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association.

Of the 1,011 survey respondents across the country, 37 percent said their financial condition is worse now than a year ago, compared with 30 percent who felt similarly last year.

The survey responses showed an improvement from the downbeat results of 2008 in which 55 percent said they intended to spend less.

But from 2000 to 2007, the percentage who said they planned to spend less never exceeded 35 percent.  The federation notes that because consumers always spend more than they intend, the year-to-year comparisons, not the absolute levels, are what's meaningful for predicting spending.

The survey also showed a direct link between financial condition and spending.  Of those who said they planned to spend more, 33 percent said their financial condition had improved since last year, while only 19 percent said it had declined.  Of those who said they plan to spend less, only 15 percent indicated their financial condition had improved while 55 percent said it had worsened.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio