— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on August 21, Wednesday.
It has been a mixed bag of earnings in the retail space. After a disappointing outlook from WalMart last week, things could be turning around.
J.C. Penney said that the back-to-school season has so far been encouraging, although its loss widened to $586 million in the second quarter
Gadget retailer Best Buy reported its first quarterly profit in a year, as sales topped analysts' forecasts. And Home Depot handed in a better-than-expected quarterly score card, and raised its full-year earnings and revenue outlook.
But a big tumble for Barnes & Noble as it reported a 10-percent decline in sales at its bookstores and website.
So what do these results tell us about the US consumer? Here are some views from our analysts.
[Sound on tape by Dana Telsey, CEO and Chief Research Officer, Telsey Advisory Group: We saw just the other week the strength of Michael Kors. We saw the strength of Home and what that's doing with DIY, off price retailing TJX's results, were very very good, so it bifurcation, we've seen some of the department stores results , a touch weaker than expected where it was Nordstrom whether it was Macy's and the back half of the year is what really key. The third an fourth quarter is the make it or break it time for sales.]
[Sound on tape by Joe Magyer, Senior Analyst, The Motley Fool: I think it's important to look at companies on a specific company level, and if you look like something like Home Depot for example, that's a combination of tailwinds of construction coming back, and a wonderful turnaround that's gone extremely well. You'll get something like Barns & Noble, that's just a business in straight up secular decline and i really don't think that tapering is going to have any impact on solving that issue, no amount of liquidity the Fed's going to pump in the system is going to solve it for them and with retail i do think that its really crucial that you drill down and look at how the individual company is doing, management is doing, and how they are adapting to an economy that's increasingly moving online.]
And as shop owners brainstorm on how to attract the discerning consumer, CNBC's Courtney Reagan reports, that the key for retailers, may lie in technology.
[Sound on tape: The internet generally --- and Amazon specifically --- have changed how consumers shop, and how retailers have adapted. Few believe physical retail stores verge on extinction...But many say the use of technology in-store separates the winners from the losers.
Many retailers have grown significantly in size and reach, offering indistinguishable products across the globe...But consumers are moving the other direction, wanting customized products...But for a deal.
That's where technology comes in. "Here at Acustom apparel in New York, 3D body scanners like this one, use lights and sensors to create a 200,000 data point digital image of your body, cutting the cost of a custom suit by more than 50%"
T-c squared, the company that makes this scanner, says brooks brothers uses it for custom suits in 2 locations and victoria's secret has 5 scanners to define the bust shape and bra size more accurate inventory sizing, though not for customization.
Adidas has piloted a virtual footwear wall in some of its stores, enabling shoppers to render different variations of a shoe, get live twitter feeds about it and the backstory of the soccer players that sport the shoe.
Michelle Tinsley, Intel, Director of Transactional Retail "they've [Addias] seen anywhere from 500% uplift in their london pilot, to 77% in tokyo or 133% in Germany, so that's a great example of a win-win where the customers are getting more customized product."
Not all retail technology is so obvious. Some retailers are hoping to glean insights about consumer behavior from the security camera video captured daily.
Tim Callhan, Retailnext CMO: They use it for floorplan optimization, for evaluating the appeal of various products, for looking at the effectives of merchandising or marketing programs or planograms or even to optimizing staffing or schedules or how their staff interact with the customers."
Proponents of the in-store behavior tracking technology argue it's no different than monitoring and analyzing our web shopping behavior.
While it still bothers some shoppers, others say, it's just the new reality.
And in-store technology is still only in its early stages. So, like it or not, consumers should expect to see more of these programs soon.]
Thanks for watching, I'm Adam Bakhtiar reporting from CNBC's Asia Business headquarters in Singapore.