Consumer Nation


  Monday, 29 Nov 2010 | 11:48 AM ET

Blue Nile CEO: More Shoppers Saying 'I Do'

Blue Nile CEO Diane Irvine said the online jewelry retailer had a "record" Thanksgiving and Black Friday, both in terms of sales and traffic.

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  Friday, 26 Nov 2010 | 2:40 PM ET

Black Friday Test: How Far Do You Go for a Good Deal?

I broke one of my cardinal online shopping rules last night: I paid for shipping.

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  Friday, 26 Nov 2010 | 11:35 AM ET

Macy's CEO: Sales Tracking Ahead of Last Year

Standing against the backdrop of Macy's flagship store in New York City's Herald Square, President and CEO Terry Lundgren sounded optimistic about recent sales trends.

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  Friday, 26 Nov 2010 | 10:22 AM ET

Brookstone CEO: Luxury Consumers Ready to Indulge

Luxury consumers are more willing to indulge this holiday season, but they are doing so with value in mind, according to Ronald Boire, president and CEO of retailer Brookstone.

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  Friday, 26 Nov 2010 | 9:21 AM ET

Toys 'R Us CEO: Parents Spending More on 'Wow' Gifts


Consumers appear to be willing to spend a little more this year to get that "wow" gift, Toys 'R Us Chairman and CEO Jerry Storch told CNBC Friday.

The toy retailer was one of the first national retailers to open for the annual Black Friday shopping frenzy, with its stores opening their doors nationwide at 10 p.m. on Thursday.

Storch said lines were long with hundreds—and in some cases, more than 1,000—people lining up to start shopping last night.

"We are being very aggressive this Black Friday ," Storch said in a live interview. "Black Friday is all about value, and we're sure offering it."

Toys 'R Us has fared better than other retailers during the last few holidays as parents are often hesistant to cut back on toys for their children. But if Storch is correct, there may be a bit more discretionary spending this holiday season.

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  Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 | 4:24 PM ET

Lalaloopsy Doll a Surprise Holiday Hit: Toys 'R Us CEO

MGA Entertainment’s Lalaloopsy dolls are becoming one of the surprise hits of this holiday season, according to Toys ‘R Us CEO Jerry Storch.

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  Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010 | 5:45 PM ET

Radio Tour: Shop or Surf on Black Friday?

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, hot deals and hotgifts—those were the topics of my latest round of radioand television interviews.

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  Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010 | 11:45 AM ET

Bargain Prices: This Year’s Holiday Bait

Posted By: Cynthia Lin

Consumers may be loosening up their purse strings a tad this holiday, but bargain hunting is not out of the picture.

In fact, shoppers can expect plenty of promotions and discounts as retailers battle it out in the vital closing months of the year. Lower price-point gifts will play a role in luring customers in and guiding their purchase decisions.

“We will continue to see retailers focus on deep discounts and loss leaders,” said Ellen Davis, vice president of the National Retail Federation. “The loss leaders are there to draw customers in with the hopes of them spending more on other offerings.”

“This was a tough holiday season to plan for. The economy has been so uncertain,” Davis added, “but what retailers know is that people are still on a budget mindset, so they made sure plenty of promotions or discounts was part of the plan.”

Having overstocked in 2008 and under-stocked in 2009, retailers have long planned for extended specials as part of the holiday game plan this year as they wrestle for a still budget-conscious buyer.

At Target, the discount giant rolled out their private-label REDcard in time for holiday spenders to get an additional 5 percent off most purchases as part of their effort to provide “unique and unexpected promotions,” one company spokeswoman said.

Other major retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores and Sears Holdings , have extended Black Friday hours to get customers through their doors.

“There’s a dilution of Black Friday ,” said Chris Donnelly, senior executive of Accenture’s retail practice. “Retailers sending the message that every Friday is Black Friday.”

Along with prolonged promotions, Donnelly says another strategy in presenting lower-priced items has been to break up traditionally bundled goods, for instance all-in-one bedding merchandise or 12-piece place settings.

“The dollar stores have done a great job of this,” Donnelly said, “And now it’s in a lot of retailers who are really pushing products at lower price points.”

By manipulating the packaging sizes, stores can offer each item separately at lower prices and enable shoppers to buy only what they want. That has been a winning tactic at places like Dollar Tree and Family Dollar Stores , which saw much success amid the recession.

While recent surveys show there is a slight uptick in discretionary spending, seeking out deals and discounts remains shoppers’ number one priority, Davis said. But with a little bit more wiggle room this year, consumers aren’t simply drawing a strict line on prices, but considering other factors such as product quality, saving time, customer service, and convenience as well.

Even among affordable gifts, cheap is no longer the sole selling point this year. While last season saw a migration toward $10 gifts, there is no “magic number” this year, Davis said. Instead, gifts will be bucketed into pricing tiers to help shoppers map out their budgets.

“People know how much money to spend and looking to retailers to help them make a purchasing decision,” Davis said.

Through hard-copy catalogues and Web site layouts, retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon , and Gilt.com aim to steer their consumers toward the category that best fits their personal budgets by segmenting gifts into clear price bins.

In the $10 realm, books , movies, and toys will be widely promoted by retailers in stores and online as economical gifts, but with the added hope of enticing shoppers to buy accompanying accessories and get exposure to pricier products.

For gifts that fall under $25, stores will continue to push the price message, but also convey to shoppers that while inexpensive, these products are trendy and offer value. This holiday, fashion and tech accessories have taken the reigns as teens and their parents seek out the latest trends. Function, but with a bit of flair, will be a focal point among shoppers.

Despite retailers’ hopes of higher spend, affordable gifts will be a highlight across department stores, discounters, and online shops as promotions and markdowns expand the array of products shoppers will be able to find at bargain prices this year. Click here for a slideshow of gifts under $25.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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  Monday, 22 Nov 2010 | 12:36 PM ET

Holiday Shopping, T.J. Maxx & the $399 iPad Scavenger Hunt

TJ Maxx selling the Apple iPad for $399.
Courtesy of Engadget
TJ Maxx selling the Apple iPad for $399.

Discount retailer T.J. Maxx certainly created a lot of buzz this past weekend by offering Apple's iPad for $399—yes, that's right $100 off the tablet computer's usual price.

TJX Cos.' T.J. Maxx, which is most known for selling designer fashion brands at discount prices, never advertised the limited quanities of iPadsthat were stashed at stores around the country. But the stunt underscores a few things about shopping this holiday season.

First, one of things that's fun about shopping at T.J. Maxx and its sister store Marshalls is that you never really know what you'll find. What better way to drive home that message about the brand than to spark a nationwide scavenger hunt for cheap iPads.

In this way, T.J. Maxx is being very true to their brand and this can help them build loyalty with their core customers.

In fact, that was pretty much the message that was sent by a spokeswoman in an email regarding the event.

"As an off-price retailer, our business provides an ever-changing selection of great finds of famous maker apparel and non-apparel categories at excellent values. In other words, our mission is to offer a treasure hunt of great values, every day," said TJX spokewoman Sherry Lang, in a statement.

While Lang declined to say whether the company would do another iPad promotion this holiday season, or to provide details about how many iPads there were and where they were sold, she said that the quantities were "very limited" and the iPads "were sourced from a retailer."

But Piper Jaffray research analyst Andrew Murphy said that there were about 80 iPads that were sold by the retailer. Further, he said since TJX is not an authorized Apple reseller, the company must have bought the tablets at retail and sold them at a loss.

Certainly, the news they've created is worth the money they spent.

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  Thursday, 18 Nov 2010 | 11:46 AM ET

Ten Tips for Holiday Party Success

The holidays are time of celebration, when you can gather your friends and family together to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future.

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About Consumer Nation

  • From the products to the pitches to the people who buy them, we are a Consumer Nation. This blog focuses on all things consumer, taking the pulse of the attitudes that shape purchasing decisions, and providing insights that will help keep marketers, entrepreneurs and investors up-to-date on where trends are heading.



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