When it comes to the holidays, gadgets perennially top people's wish lists — and retailers are happy to oblige.
Shoppers will spend an average of $252 on consumer electronics this year, according to a Consumer Electronics Association forecast, with 76 percent of gift-giving adults planning to give a gadget as a present. Sorting out the hot items from the ones destined to end up in the clearance bin — or at a garage sale — isn't easy, though.
If you're looking for a perfect tech gift for a friend or loved one, click ahead for suggestions that can't miss.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 7 Nov. 2012
Gone are the days when you could throw a sheet over your head and call it a Halloween costume. Halloween is serious business. Retailers expect Americans to spend about $8 billion on the day,according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGinsight.
Of course, part of the fun of the holiday is coming up with a creative Halloween costume. About $1.1 billion will be spent on children’s costumes this year.
For kids, there will be plenty of the traditional costumes: princesses, super heroes, witches and pirates. But even these popular themes are subject to interpretation.
We’ve taken a look at what the trendiest costumes are for kids this year. Click ahead to find out what they are, some may surprise you.
By Christina Cheddar Berk
Posted 28 Sept 2012
With nearly seven in 10 Americans planning to celebrate Halloween, Oct. 31 is one of the fastest growing holidays of the year. And for good reason, it is a chance to break away from day-to-day routines to let loose and have some fun.
A National Retail Federation survey said Americans will spend $8 billion on Halloween this year, and a good chunk of that will be spent on costumes.
Don’t be fooled: Halloween isn’t just for kids. In fact, more money is expected to be spent on adult costumes this year than on costumes for children.
The trade group estimates there will 6 million adults dressing as a witch, and 3.2 million dressing as a vampire. Trailing those costume choices are the traditional fare: pirates, super heroes, and zombies. Yet costume retailers also see some other trends creeping into Halloween fare this year.
Among them is a growing preference for humorous costumes. Some of these are based on popular television shows or newsworthy public figures.
“Choosing a costume is one of the most entertaining parts of Halloween,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. So choose wisely.
Click ahead to see some of the trendiest Halloween costumes this year.
By Christina Cheddar Berk
Posted 27 Sept 2012
It may be too soon to tell whether this holiday season will be a blockbuster for certain toys, but it’s never too soon for retailers to place their bets. Several major toy retailers —Toys ‘R Us, Wal-Mart Stores, Sears Holdings’ Kmart, and Kohl’s— have weighed in with their picks for this year’s hottest toys.
There are already some strong contenders. Several toys have earned a place on more than one list, but others turned up in fewer places.
The lists also offer clues regarding popular trends in the toy industry. Most notably, it looks as though retailers are expecting parents to spend a little more this year. Some of the items on this year’s hot toy lists are quite a bit pricier than those that were on last year’s lists.
There’s also a sense of deja vu. Furby is back, and so are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Classic toy brands such as Lego, Barbie, and Twister have snagged some spots. There’s a new version of three toys that were popular last year. There is a sequel to the Skylanders videogame, and the LeapPad and VTech tablets have returned with faster processing speeds and new features.
So what will be the must-have this holiday season? Click ahead and decide for yourself.
By Christina Cheddar BerkPosted 24 September 2012
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week kicks off its fifth season at Lincoln Center where models dressed in designs fresh from the drawing board are hitting the runway.
Thousands of fashion editors, buyers, and industry insiders will descend upon New York during the next week to see more than 80 of fashion’s most well-respected and emerging designers present their collections for the upcoming spring season. Fashion trend forecasters expect collections to include elements of simplicity, with a greater emphasis on pants this season.
Getting trends right is crucial for designers who hope to land on department store racks for the upcoming season. Just last week, retail executives said they would be entering the crucial holiday season cautiously — a tip-toe attitude that could impact buyers’ plans for spring and summer inventories.
Click ahead for some highlights from the New York Spring 2013 fashion show.
By Katie LittlePosted 7 September 2012
Some like it hot — especially women’s swimwear designers.
For the eighth year, thousands of fashion industry pros and onlookers migrated to Miami Beach to check out the latest in "barely there" attire during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim. The show, which is one of the largest swimwear trade shows, ran from July 19 to July 23.
Although the bathing suits may be skimpy, the stakes are not. Women’s swimwear sales are projected to grow to $2.9 billion this year while total U.S. swimwear sales are expected to hit $4.2 billion, according to forecasts from market research firm NPD Group.
“For designers, group shows offer turn-key production and public relations elements,” said Christina Neault, executive producer of IMG Fashion. “For buyers and media in attendance, it allows them to see three or four designers within one show.”
This year, color continued to dominate the runway as models strutted down the catwalk in intricate patterns, coordinating pastels and animal prints. Designers also put a new spin on the traditional one-piece suit with cut-out designs and silhouettes reminiscent of past decades.
The show’s popularity grew this season as the number of designers showing their Spring 2013 collections there hit an all-time high with more than 30 present. The list included Lisa Blue, Luli Fama, Mara Hoffman Swim and BCBGMaxAzriaGroup.
Click ahead to see the newest swimwear trends for 2013.
By Katie Little
Posted 24 July 2012
Global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney takes an annual look at which emerging markets are ripe for retail expansion.
Its study ranks the top 30 emerging countries and grades them on many factors, including an assessment of country risk, population size, wealth as well as the country’s current retail saturation.
With anemic growth in the U.S. and Europe, retailers realize that global expansion is more important than ever. This has prompted retailers to search the globe for untapped consumer markets.
“While the world’s largest developing markets — particularly the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India, and China — still tempt the largest global retailers and show no signs of slowing down as a source of growth, many smaller untapped markets are providing new growth opportunities,” A.T. Kearney’s report says.
The firm’s research uncovered growing potential in such countries as Georgia, Oman, Mongolia and Azerbaijan, which all made their debut on the list.
The emergence of these newer markets as well as the Arab Spring uprisings, which hurt the rankings of a number of countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, led to a shake-up in the rankings . Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia all slipped. However, several countries in the region remained high on the list and continue to be attractive markets for retailers.
“Given the accelerated growth rates of developing countries compared to the anemic growth in European and North American markets, global retailers must have a strategy for expansion into developing markets,” said Michael Moriarty, A.T. Kearney partner and co-leader of the study. “In the past five years, U.S.-based Wal-Mart, France-based Carrefour, U.K.-based Tesco and Germany-based Metro Group saw their revenues in developing countries grow 2.5-times faster than in their home markets.”
Click ahead to see which countries are the most attractive for retail expansion.
By Christina Cheddar Berk,
Posted 12 June 2012
Country rankings are from A.T. Kearney’s 2012 Global Retail Development Index. Population and GDP per capita data are from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.
Stir in one part candy store, one part alcohol and a splash of cocktail risk-taking. For many vodka producers, this is a recipe for success, as they seek to capture the American consumer and draw attention to their brands through creative new flavors.
Flavored vodka accounts for approximately 27 percent of leading brand vodka volume, and continues to grow in popularity as total vodka sales also increase, according to market research firm Technomic.
In 2011, David Ozgo, senior vice president of economic and strategic analysis at the industry’s trade group, the Distilled Spirits Council, counted 115 different flavors in the vodka market.
“They included everything from the basics, like orange, vanilla, and lime, to the more exotic: ginger, pepper, horseradish, bacon, and wasabi,” Ozgo said. “Such flavors allow trained mixologists and at-home bartenders alike to develop new and interesting cocktails.”
Brand marketers use new flavors to drum up press coverage for their companies and to keep their brands top-of-mind for bartenders when they’re mixing up new cocktails, said Donna Hood Crecca, Technomic’s senior director in the adult beverage resource group.
“There are some really wild new flavors coming out, and a lot of them relate to very sweet flavor profiles, which is different from a few years ago,” Crecca said. Before, the focus was on more savory flavors.
Today’s top three best-selling vodkas are all sweet: Pinnacle Whipped Cream, Absolut Citron, and Smirnoff Raspberry, Crecca said.
Click ahead to read about some of the most unusual vodka flavors on the shelves.
By Katie Little
Posted 17 April 2012
Americans are expected to spend more on candy, flowers and little trinkets this year as they celebrate Easter, according to a survey by BIGinsight on behalf of the retail industry trade group, the National Retail Federation.
Spending on the holiday is expected to rise 11 percent from last year to about $16.8 billion. This means the average person celebrating will spend $145.28 on everything from candy to food to new Easter outfits.
That’s no small sum, especially when you consider that most Americans are paying more for gasoline these days.
“Though the price of gas is on everyone’s mind, Easter is one of the few holidays some consumers are willing to stretch their budgets, especially because many children look forward to treats and new outfits on Easter morning,” said Matthew Shay, the federation’s president and CEO.
To help the budget stretch further, we have rounded up some ideas for Easter gifts that cost less than $25. Click ahead and get some inspiration.
By Christina Cheddar Berk
Posted 21 March 2012
The nation’s oldest operating toy store, FAO Schwarz, is turning 150 years old this year. To commemorate this milestone, the company has assembled a collection of more than 20 iconic toys spanning the decades that customers can view at its Fifth Avenue store in New York until April 10.
The toys date to the early years of the 20th century and include a Richard Stieff Teddy Bear. Also on display are the original Barbie and Ken dolls, a prototype of the Etch A Sketch, and seven of the original Hot Wheels cars. Many of the items come from the archives of the toy manufacturers that made them, and some are in their original packaging.
There also are a few glimpses into the history of FAO Schwarz itself. The company’s iconic FAO Schwarz Clock Tower, pictured here, adorned the store from 1986 to 2004, and has returned to mark the occasion, singing out the theme song, “Welcome to Our World of Toys” every five minutes.
A sales ledger from 1909 and a number of the company’s early catalogs are also on display. FAO Schwarz was one of the first retailers to use a mail-order catalog to market its products. It began the practice in 1876, 14 years after its founding during the Civil War.
Please click ahead to see a sample of the historic toys in the collection as well as get a glimpse of a few scenes from around the store.
By Christina Cheddar Berk
Posted 22 February 2012
Christina Cheddar Berk is assistant managing editor of Enterprise coverage at CNBC Digital.
Courtney Reagan is CNBC's Retail Reporter.
Tom is a Senior Editor and Assignment Desk Manager for CNBC TV. He also writes about the business of beer for CNBC.com.
Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."
San Francisco Bureau Chief at CNBC