Cecilia del Monte
International Lingerie Shows
Shirley of Hollywood
Renko Bra Accessories
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For THIS iSSUE
Articles Of Interest
Retail up but soft
Web sales grow
Araks goes out
US Textile output
Mulberry gets Merry
LaPerla go's RTW
Bare it All
Moscow's Fashion show
Woman's Wear Shows
December 15, 2002
Women's Wear Journal
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Retail Sales Up but Holidays Looking Soft
NEW YORK - Heavy promotions lured U.S. shoppers into malls for the start of the holiday buying season, but analysts doubted whether the gains would be sustained as Christmas nears.
Sales at U.S. chain stores grew 0.3 percent in the week ended Nov. 30 after a 0.9 percent rise in the preceding week, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UBS Warburg said. A separate weekly reading of the retail sector, Instinet's Redbook report, showed a 0.5 percent gain in sales during the month of November.
Price-cutting during last week's "Black Friday" -- the day after Thanksgiving when frantic shoppers turn retailers' red ink losses into black ink profits -- helped nudge otherwise lackluster monthly results into the plus column.
"Extensive promotional activity and extended store hours helped to lure shoppers,"
WASHINGTON -- Retail sales rose at the fastest pace in three months in November, rising 0.4 percent, the Commerce Department estimated Thursday.
The figures help dispel some fears that consumers have pulled back as the vital holiday sales season approaches. Economists were expecting a milder 0.2 percent rise in sales.
Sales at furniture and hardware stores were strong, while sales at traditional mall-type retailers such as department stores, clothing stores and music stores fell abruptly. Catalog and online sales jumped.
Auto sales dipped 0.1 percent, the second straight monthly decline. Excluding autos -- which account for about one-fourth of retail purchases -- sales rose 0.5 percent. Ex-auto sales rose a revised 0.8 percent in October.
"These numbers are a relief;" said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.
September's retail sales were revised slightly lower and October's slightly higher. Overall, retail sales fell 1.5 percent in September and rose 0.1 percent in October.
Retail sales account for a third of gross domestic product. Consumer spending has been the main engine of growth in the economy for the past two years as businesses' capital spending evaporated.
Retail spending is up just 2.1 percent in the past year. Sales have fallen in seven of the 15 months since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Black Friday Sales Take Off Like Santa's Sleigh
Christmas bells were ringing for online retailers on Black Friday, as online spending was up significantly year over year, according to industry watchers.
Consumers spent $196 million online the Friday after Thanksgiving, up 30% from last year, says analyst firm comScore Networks. Nontravel sales grew 40% to $151 million, while travel sales rose 7% to $44.7 million. Computer hardware, consumer electronics, and apparel were the top three nontravel E-commerce categories Thanksgiving Day and Friday.
The largest factor behind the increase is the volume of people buying online--a jump of more than 30%, according to
Price markdowns were responsible for driving traffic to stores, as many retailers hosted door-buster sales that started as early as 5 a.m. Specialty apparel stores such as Gap managed a gain of 1.1% as a group. But deals did not prove the savior of every retailer.
Department stores again struggled through the month, falling 6.6%
Swanky Boutiques Strut North
on Madison Avenue
Rising rents have remade the face of Madison Avenue. As high-end international boutiques have come to dominate Madison between 57th and 72nd Streets, luxury retailing has begun to migrate north, creating a vibrant local shopping district that extends into the 80's.
Peress Lingerie, a family-run store, which, after 46 years, was displaced
Women have many faults, Men
only have 2.
Everything they say. And everything they do.
Retailers are banking on those cliches to drive
sales this holiday season, famous for its skin-filled catalogs --
turning to scantily clad in-store greeters in a bid to lure reluctant
consumers. On Black Friday at Abercrombie & Fitch Co.'s Manhattan store, customers were greeted at the door by male and female models dressed only in their underwear.
are we going with this?
One of the hottest toys of the holiday season comes dressed in a skirt that barely covers her bottom, knock-me-down-and-have-your-way-with-me boots, a face plastered with makeup, huge, luscious lips and a face that's all about attitude. Hence the name.
The Bratz doll
Perfect for the little girls of the world, who already take many of their fashion cues from singers like the belly-baring Britney and the increasingly skanky Christina.
And now, even Barbie has to play "come hither" to compete.
Barbie actually has come a long way in the past few decades. She's been given clout, 100 careers and even a more anatomically realistic body, with thicker waist and smaller chest.
But now, a sexier, "hipper" Barbie has hit the toy shelves, with skintight clothes, pouty lips, low-rise jeans and bared belly button.
And then there's Lingerie Barbie, peddled by FAO Schwartz for those 14 and older, in a heavenly merry widow bustier ensemble accented with intricate lace and matching peekaboo peignoir.
"The dolls are more reality-based," says a Mattel spokesman. "A girl can really relate to them."
And that's the sad fact.
US trade chiefs on Tuesday pledged to get tough on illegal
textile imports and said they expect to develop new technology to help
combat the multi-billion dollar crime within the next 18 months.
The promise came during a briefing by commerce and energy department
officials to textile industry leaders at the North Carolina Centre for
Applied Textile Technology in Belmont, one of the region's hardest hit by
the demise of the US textile sector.
Among the hi-tech anti-smuggling measures they will look at are new
marking processes that "hide" tracers on the fabric through the
use of DNA, dye, watermarks or light imaging, so customs can trace its
source of origin.
With eleven days until Christmas, the holiday season is again turning out to be a nail biter.
After a better-than-expected buying spree over the Thanksgiving weekend, sales dropped off more than expected the next week. Then, this past week, they showed only a little improvement, according to analysts.
So retailers are now in the same spot they were last year, dependent on a late buying spree to lift them above dour expectations.
Can consumers save Christmas again? Not everyone's hopeful.
"Where's my incentive to come here and separate me from my money?"
Discounting is running about one-third higher than a year, ago, according to Flickinger, who expects stores to step up discounting this weekend.
Many stores blamed stormy weather for disappointing sales during the week after Thanksgiving, but there's growing concern that the weak business is rooted in customers' frugality.
"If you don't see the rebound starting this weekend, then the season is likely to be softer," said Michael P. Niemira, vice president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd.
Same-store sales — sales at stores opened at least a year — are considered the best indicator of a retailer's health. And Niemira said those sales for November and December combined could fall below the low end of his range of a 2 percent to 3.75 percent gain.
According to the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi's store-index, same-store sales fell 2.3 percent during the week ended Dec. 7.
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said Monday that same-store sales for December are currently at the low end of its range of a 3 to 5 percent gain.
Bucking the trend was J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which reported same-store sales for its department store business were beating its projections for a low single-digit percentage gain for the month.
A bright spot has been online sales, which continue to surge.
Online sales soared 43 percent, from November 1 through Dec. 11, compared with a year ago, said BizRate.com, a comparison shopping site that also tracks sales at 2,000 Web sites.
But, just like brick and mortar stores, online merchants have to lure shoppers with bargains, particularly free shipping deals. Currently, there are about 155 free shipping offers, compared to 120 a year ago, BizRate.com said.
The average purchase has dropped to $138, from $145 a year ago. Retailers are used to a roller coaster ride during the holidays. Last year, Thanksgiving weekend's sales weren't as strong as expected, and sales limped along, until a last-minute shopping spree helped save the season from being a disaster.
During the holiday 2000 period, sales sharply fell off after a strong Thanksgiving weekend. The last-minute sales surge came too little and too late, resulting in disappointing sales.
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