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December 15, 2003
Women's Wear Journal
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Retail Sales Mixed;
Luxury Beats Discounts
CHICAGO- Shoppers splurged at upscale stores in November, but many lower-end chains posted poor-to-average sales in a mixed start to the big holiday shopping season, U.S. retailers reported last Thursday.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest company, managed to hit the mid-point of its sales forecast, but the day after Thanksgiving -- the traditional start of the holiday shopping season -- was disappointing.
Lower-priced department stores Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kohl's Corp. missed their November sales targets, while high-end chains Nordstrom Inc. and Saks Inc. both reported much stronger-than-expected sales.
Target Corp. also turned in a strong performance for the month, easily outpacing rival Wal-Mart. Target is considered slightly more upscale than Wal-Mart -- a reputation that hurt its sales last year when a weak economy prompted many consumers to cut spending.
Analysts had expected upscale retailers to do better than discounters amid signs of a rebounding U.S. economy. Customers who shopped at lower-priced stores last year because of tight budgets were ready to spend this year.
The Friday after Thanksgiving generated about $7.2 billion in sales, according to ShopperTrak, which measures retail sales. On Saturday, the tally was $5.2 billion. The combined two-day total was up 5.4 percent over last year.
But analysts noted that even with the big holiday weekend, November sales usually account for less than one-third of retailers' quarterly sales. Most U.S. chains operate on a fiscal year that ends in January, so November is the first month of the period.
Naomi Campbell at Katherine Hamnett
Spring/Summer 2004 show. London, England 09/23/03
us at the Orlando International Lingerie
Show January 11-13, 2004,
The Warnaco Group will undertake additional restructuring initiatives to lower costs and improve efficiency. It will close the remaining 44 Speedo Authentic Fitness retail stores. To focus more on its core Speedo wholesale business, Warnaco said that it will close its remaining retail stores in the US. The company will continue to operate its e-commerce site located at www.SPEEDOUSA.com. The Speedo Authentic Fitness retail stores account for less than 5% of overall sales of Warnaco's Swimwear Group. The company believes that the closure of these stores will allow its Swimwear Group to focus on maximizing organic growth and product extension opportunities in the wholesale sector, which has experienced approximately 20% growth in the first nine months of 2003.
us at the Orlando International Lingerie
January 11-13, 2004,
What's the national bird of Afghanistan?
THEY were strutting their stuff on the catwalk at Eastleigh's Barton Peveril sixth form college as the work of 93 textile students was given a glitzy showcase.
Three separate performances of the fashion show, dubbed Off the Cuff, were given to audiences of pupils from the college's feeder schools plus parents and invited guests.
Besides producing some dazzling clothes, the AS and A2-level students also choreographed and organised every facet of the annual show.
AS-level students had just five weeks for their project, which forms a unit of their coursework, and worked on the theme of Found Objects with young designers deriving inspiration from one of three locations - the beach, the garden and around the home.
Starting points ranged from fishing nets to washing lines and from leaves to clothes pegs. Laura Halligan produced a corset of wooden clothes pegs attached with their springs and a woven skirt out of a washing line while Jenna Dempsey created a top patchworked together from seed packets.
A2-level students have been working on their projects since September and were given the freedom to explore a theme or concept of their own choice.
Inspired by flowers, Cheryl Millington created a sculptural bodice and bustle after hand-wrapping wire with thread and stitching each length together. African body adornment in-spired Hilary Whitworth to produce a sculptural collar from decorated buttons and a painted dress.
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Hot Pink Bras Used in New Zealand Government Protest
According to the New Zealand Herald, ³stunning hot pink bras held up Parliament , as blouses were whipped off in a colourful and rowdy protest against genetic engineering. ³
Protesters who shocked MPs by baring but not burning their bras and been banned from Parliament for two years thanks to the colourful stunt.
According to speaker Jonathan Hunt the nine women, from Mothers Against Genetic Engineering (Madge), were being treated fairly and equal to anyone else who disrupts Parliament.
The New Zealand Herald reported that ³ the women, led by Madge founder and former pop singer Alannah Currie, had co-ordinated child care for the day so they could slip past security guards and through metal detection units with signs which had been attached by velcro to their pink and black bras. They stripped their shirts off and stood in Parliament's public gallery chanting against GM. ³
JAPAN: Wacoal Goes To The Dogs
Lingerie maker Wacoal Corp is to venture into the canine market with a range of dog sweaters.
The company, Japan’s biggest manufacturer of women’s undergarments, will release the Hello Kitty Version-branded products as a limited edition line of only 2400 individual sweaters.
The sweaters, available in red and pink varieties, will feature popular children’s character Hello Kitty – a cat, ironically – on the back and will retail for Y3500.
Miss World 2003 contestants pose poolside in swimwear at a resort in Sanya,
China's southern Hainan province. Hectic months of preparations wound up
here, with the final touches applied before one woman takes the ultimate
in beauty queen accolades -- Miss World
2004 Will Be the U.S.'S Best Year Economically in Last 20 Years, The Conference Board Reports in a Revised Forecast
NEW YORK, Dec. 11 -- Revising its year-end economic forecast sharply upward, The Conference Board today projected that real GDP growth will hit 5.7% next year, making 2004 the best year economically in the last 20 years.
The forecast, by Conference Board Chief Economist Gail Fosler, expects worker productivity, which set a 20-year record in the third quarter, to rise at a healthy 3.6% next year. That would follow a gain of 4.3% this year.
The economic forecast is prepared for more than 2,500 corporate members of The Conference Board's global business network, based in 66 nations.
KEY BAROMETERS FLASHING GROWTH
"Growing business spending and continued strength in consumer spending are generating growth throughout the U.S. economy," says Fosler. "This burgeoning strength is reflected in The Conference Board's widely-watched Leading Economic Indicators, the Consumer Confidence Index and the Help-Wanted Advertising Index. While the labor market, a critical factor in sustaining growth, is growing slowly, a pick-up in hiring may already have begun."
Real consumer spending, which continues to fuel growth, will increase at a 4.7% pace next year, up from about 3.2% this year. Another gain of 4.3% is projected for 2005.
While the U.S. economy is expected to generate more than one million new jobs next year, the unemployment rate will edge down only slightly, averaging 5.6% in 2004.
The Conference Board forecast notes that as the U.S. economy bounces back, so is Europe, although growth will be subdued compared to most other major parts of the world. "For all the concern about a weak dollar," says Fosler, "the dollar will be worth more than the euro by the end of the year."
Real capital spending, which will rise by only 2.7% this year, will climb 11.7% next year and another 8.6% in 2005. Pre-tax corporate operating profits will top $1 trillion next year, up from a projected $928 billion this year. Another trillion-dollar-plus gain in profits is expected in 2005.
The continued recovery in business profits, which was a key ingredient in funding new investment (crucial in making 2004 a strong growth year), depends on price relief. Business profits will benefit from both improved volume and recovering profit margins in 2004, as inflation creeps back toward 3% by the end of the year.
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