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2008 Online Apparel Sales Up 17%
Page 1

Colombian Trade Pact Considered
Page 1

La Senza Removes Underwear Line From Site
Page 1

MAGIC Fashion Show - Stylefile 
Page 2


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  April 15, 2008                                           Issue #215


18/24

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2008 Online Apparel Sales
           Up 17%

In a year where retail industry sales are expected to experience sluggish growth, Americans will continue to flock to the Internet for clothing, computers, and even cars according to new research.
The State of Retailing Online 2008, an annual Shop.org study conducted by Forrester Research Inc, says online retail will continue to be a bright spot in the industry with retail sales rising 17% this year to $204bn.
Apparel will be the largest category, with sales of $26.6bn, followed by computers ($23.9bn), and autos ($19.3bn).
"From higher shipping costs to changes in consumer shopping habits, online retailers are not immune to the current economic climate," said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org. 
"But the fact that online sales will increase substantially this year demonstrates the resilience of the channel and is a testament to the value and convenience most customers find when shopping online." 
"What's spearheading online retail sales growth is a tale of two shoppers that visit the web for very different reasons," said Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research principal analyst and lead author of the report. 
"The casual shopper goes online to look for the best price, leveraging the transparency of the Internet to save money. 
"However, more affluent customers appreciate the convenience of shopping online and are not necessarily looking for the best deal. 
"Retailers would be wise to recognize there are significant opportunities within both audiences and should market to them accordingly." 
The report says online retailers allocate 53% of their marketing budgets to online customer acquisition and 21% to online customer retention. 
But it adds that traditional acquisition programs such as search engine or affiliate marketing may also attract existing customers as well as new shoppers.


14/24   
Colombian Trade Pact
         Considered
President George Bush submitted the US/Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act to Congress, paving the way to make current temporary trade programs permanent.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association is now urging Congress to immediately approve the pact to ensure a predictable relationship with the Andean country.
The deal would ensure a market for US raw materials, like cotton, and increase access for finished US products into the Colombian market.
"The Colombia TPA is necessary to ensure continued fair, comprehensive trade," said AAFA president and CEO Kevin Burke. 
"The importance of Colombia as a trading partner has been stressed by the entire textile and apparel industry." 


11/24              Photographed by Lawrence O. Brown

La Senza Removes Line 
            From Site
A High Street lingerie chain has removed controversial underwear aimed at girls as young as five from its website. 
The move came after La Senza had introduced a range of adult-style items for girls aged from five to 12 two weeks ago. 
Politicians, campaigners and children's charities said the garments – which included lacy, bra-like tops with adjustable straps – sexualized children and put them at risk.
They also criticized the store for publicizing the range with the phrase "Why should grown-ups have all the
fun?" 
Although La Senza has decided to remove the items from its internet site, it will still sell the products in its stores. 
Marketing director Lisa Bond insisted that while the chain had decided to take notice of customers' concerns, it still considered the range "entirely age-appropriate". 
The brand will launch a separate La Senza Girl website in the summer. 
A spokesman for the child protection charity Kidscape said: "It's a real victory for common sense. 
The fact that they have taken on board the concerns of those who work directly with children is very positive." 

 

March Retailers' Sales
           Review

Abercrombie & Fitch reported net sales of $330.2m for the five weeks to April 5, compared to net sales of $331.2m the year before - a drop of 0.3%. Total company direct-to-consumer net sales increased 45% to $25.6m in the fiscal month. March comparable store sales decreased 10%, with the company blaming early shifts in the Easter and Spring Break calendars. 
Aéropostale Inc said its total net sales for the month increased 13.6% to $141.8m, from $124.8m. Same store sales increased 2.5% for the month, compared to a same store sales increase of 15.9% in the year ago period.
American Apparel, the manufacturer and retailer of fashion basics, reported a 28.7% hike in March sales at stores open for more than 12 months. This compares to March 2007, when comparable store sales increased 25% the company said. 
American Eagle Outfitters Inc posted a 2% drop in total sales for the five weeks to April 5, to $267.3m from $271.4m. Same-store sales were down 12% for the month, compared to a 20% increase for the same period last year. March sales were well below the company's expectations. 
The Buckle Inc reported that net sales in the five weeks to April 5, increased 20.9% compared to the same period last year. Net sales were up 28.7% to $63.6m from $49.4m last time.
Cache Inc posted flat comparable store sales in March 2008. Total sales increased 1% to $29.4m, and comparable store sales rose 3%. The company, which operates 294 Cache and Cache Luxe stores, said sportswear sales were offset by weak sales of special occasion dresses.
The Cato Corporation, which sells value-priced women's fashion, said its sales for the five weeks to April 5 were down 6% to $89.2m from $95.1m. Comparable store sales for the month decreased 9%. March sales were unfavorably impacted by the early Easter the company said.
Chico’s FAS Inc reported that its March sales fell 15.2% to $162.1m from $191.2m. Comparable store sales dropped 20.7%.
A 12% drop in fiscal March sales was reported by Gap Inc, with sales falling to $1.37bn from $1.55bn. The company's comparable store sales for March 2008 fell 18% compared with a 6% increase for March 2007. By division, same-store sales fell 14% at Gap North America, dropped 8% at Banana Republic North America, and were down 27% at Old Navy North America. International sales slipped 3%.
Hot Topic Inc said its total sales in fiscal March rose 0.7% to $63.7m, while same-store sales slipped 3.5%. By division (including the internet) comparable store sales fell 2.7% at Hot Topic and were down 6.5% at Torrid.
JC Penney Company Inc comparable store sales dropped 12.3% for the five weeks to April 5 - in line with recent guidance. This compares with an 11.0% increase in last year's period. Total sales in March fell 10.3%.
Limited Brands Inc, parent of Victoria’s Secret, Pink, and La Senza, posted an 8% drop in comparable store sales for the five weeks to April 5. Net sales were down 17.8% to $733.2m from $892.3m in the same month last year.
Mothers Work's net sales for March decreased 7.6% to $54.6m from $59.1m. Same-store sales fell 6.0%. The company blamed the weak economic and retail environment and unseasonably cold weather in March.
Nordstrom Inc reported sales of $750m for the five weeks to April 5, a decrease of 6.7% from last year's $803m. Same-store sales were down 9.1%.
Pacific Sunwear of California Inc reported that total sales from its PacSun division for fiscal March were $115.3m, a drop of 8% from last year's $125.0m. PacSun same-store sales fell 8% during the same period.
Retailer Ross Stores Inc posted a 6% sales increase to $633m, from $599m last fiscal March. Comparable store sales declined 2% - beating the company's expectation for a 4% to 5% decline. Dresses, Shoes and Home were the best performing merchandise categories it said.
Saks Incorporated March sales fell 2.9% to $276.2m from $284.4m. Same-store sales were also down by 2.9%. The company said the strongest categories at Saks Fifth Avenue were women's designer eveningwear, men's and women's shoes and contemporary apparel. 
Stein Mart Inc's total sales fell 14.7% to $138.6m from $162.5m in the same period last year. Same-store sales were down 14.7% compared with a drop of 17.1% last year. During March, the better performing categories were ladies' status casual and fashion accessories, the company said.
Target Corporation saw its net retail sales for the five-week period increase 1.5% to $5,676m from $5,592m. March comparable store sales decreased 4.4%. The retailer said "the timing of Easter this year compared with a year ago adversely affected March and will benefit April."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc said its March same-store sales, excluding fuel, rose 0.7% from a year earlier, helped by strong international sales. Total company net sales for the four weeks to April 4 increased 7.9% to $36.97bn from $34.26bn. International sales climbed 18.7% to $9.47bn. 
"A difficult retail environment," was blamed by young women's fashion retailer The Wet Seal Inc for a 0.9% drop in net sales for fiscal March, to $58.1m. Total same-store sales were down 10.8%, with a drop of 7.3% in the Wet Seal division and a plunge of 23% at Arden B. The company said the "unusually early Easter holiday this year negatively impacted" its March performance.
Zumiez Inc has posted an 11.3% rise in total net sales for the five-week period to 5 April to $31.5m, up from $28.3m in the same period last year. The company's comparable store sales fell 3.0%, versus a rise of 17.0% in the year ago period.

                          
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