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Online Retail Jumps
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Frederick's Flees Bankruptcy
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Hip Huggers Hurt
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Doomsday Sales
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The Corset King
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Move over Victoria
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La Perla Goes Masculine
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  January 15,  2003                                 Issue #89


11/24

         Mcpete -Sez, 
    
The Lingerie Newsletter 
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 Late Retail Sales Fail to Save Holiday
Last-minute shoppers gave U.S. retailers something to be jolly about last week, but the sales gains were too little and arrived too late to save a glum holiday season.
Burdened by worries about job security and the prospect of a war with Iraq, American consumers seem to have kept their holiday purchases to a minimum this year, to the chagrin of chain stores. 
A late shopping rush drove sales 2.1 percent higher in the week ended Dec. 28, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UBS Warburg said in a joint report. That followed a 0.1 percent gain in the preceding week. 
But even as retailers slashed prices in a last-ditch effort to meet monthly sales targets, Instinet Research's Redbook report showed a meager 0.7 percent gain for the month as a whole compared with November. 
"It's going to be one of the weakest shopping seasons in 30 years," said Carey Leahey, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities. "The Christmas season started strongly and ended strongly but in between it was pretty weak."
Retail Sales Rise but Holiday Sluggish
CHICAGO - U.S. chain stores closed out a disappointing holiday season with solid if unspectacular sales, two reports released showed, but December results still look likely to miss most retailers' forecasts. 
U.S. chain store sales rose 3.3 percent year-over-year in the week ended Jan. 4, after recording a 2.9 percent gain in the previous week, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UBS Warburg said in a joint weekly sales report. 
Separately, Instinet Research said in its weekly Redbook report that sales at major U.S. chain stores rose 0.5 percent in the five weeks ended Jan. 4, compared with the previous month. December was a five-week month in the retail calendar, while November was a four-week period. 
Sales for the week ended Jan. 4 compared with the same week a year ago grew 0.2 percent, the report said.


  
 
Online holiday retail sales jump
SEATTLE -- Five-karat diamond rings, plasma TVs, Rolex watches, Via Spiga lizard-skin boots. 
Those were some of the holiday gifts sold online as e-tailers got savvier and shoppers got more comfortable online. While bricks-and-mortar retailers fretted, e-merchants raked in record sales. Web spending jumped 24% to $13.7 billion in November and December, a report from Nielsen/Net Ratings, Goldman Sachs and Harris Interactive said Monday. That was up from $11 billion in the same period last year.
''This was the first Christmas (that) shopping online became the modus operandi, not just a fad,'' says BizRate.com CEO Chuck Davis. Helping e-tailers:
Through use of interactive Web pages, Seattle-based e-tailer Blue Nile ushered patrons through the intricacies of selecting fine jewelry, and chalked up $30 million in holiday sales, including 10 sales for $40,000-plus engagement rings. ''We're proving you can deliver a great online experience and value on a $50,000 purchase, just like you can on a $30 purchase,'' says Blue Nile CEO Mark Vadon.
Quick turnaround. Exploiting the Internet's immediacy, MSN made gift consultants available free via instant messaging. Yahoo organized more than 50 e-tailers to deliver certain items -- ordered as late as Dec. 24 -- in time for Christmas.


4/24


  
Frederick's Bids Farewell to Bankruptcy
Frederick's of Hollywood is fittingly back in the black. The Los Angeles-based lingerie company - which scandalized the country when it first brought black bras and panties to our Puritan shores more than 50 years ago -- announced Thursday that it has emerged from Chapter 11. 
"We are very pleased to have reached the end of this reorganization, and to have accomplished so much at the same time," stated CEO and President Linda LoRe. "While under Chapter 11, we made substantial progress on our efforts to evolve the brand and are poised for positive growth with new financing, a strong management team and a reenergized customer base."
Frederick's filed for bankruptcy in July 2000. Since then the company has opened or remodeled more than 20 of its 167 stores (complete with leopard carpeting and red velvet curtains), and introduced new product lines like a body care collection called Boudoir Café. It has also developed www.fredericks.com into one of the top 10 e-commerce sites in the country. 
LoRe, a Giorgio Beverly Hills vet who joined Frederick's in 1999, has made it her mission to get younger customers into the company's lingerie outlets, with more modern pieces, like the fall line of "Get Cheeky" boy-cut briefs. Her tenure hasn't seen the 57-year-old company turn away from its racy, often raunchy, image though, and LoRe has said that she doesn't want it to lose its cache as the "anti-establishment lingerie." So crotchless panties, naughty nurse ensembles, and marabou kitten heels still stand beside newer, more wearable offerings like seamless bras and cotton camisoles.
Frederick's did $184 million in sales in 2001, and the recent holiday season saw better than expected sales, which will offer a boost to 2002. And with Valentine's Day on the horizon, the chain is already welcoming yet another busy selling season. This year's campaign, "First Comes Love," is already being promoted in stores.

ATMI Unveils Action Plan To Save Industry
US textile manufacturers on Thursday unveiled an action plan aimed at reviving the industry and renewed their call for tough new import restrictions on cheap textiles from countries such as China and Vietnam.
The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) also urged the Bush administration to pursue a cheaper dollar policy in a bid to save an industry that has lost almost 180,000 jobs in just five years.
Among their list of demands is an urgent "textile agreement with Vietnam imposing quotas on textile and apparel imports from that country", and "strong and effective customs enforcement of all textile and apparel trade".
      
Hip Huggers Hurt??
CANADA: Doctor Warns Hip-Hugging Jeans A Health Risk
A Canadian doctor on Wednesday issued a warning about the danger of wearing low-slung jeans after three women complained of experiencing "tingly thighs" from a pinched nerve.
Dr Malvinder Parmar, of the Timmins and District Hospital in Ontario, said hip-hugging jeans are not suitable for overweight women as they compress a sensory nerve which can cause discomfort, while wearing them with belts can press close to the spine.
"All (three patients) presented with symptoms of tingling or a burning sensation on the lateral aspect of the thigh," he said in a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
He explained a sensory nerve passes just beneath the hip and when the nerve gets compressed "it can cause a tingling sensation similar to carpal tunnel syndrome".
"If the belt is up close to the belly button or the mid-region, then you don't have that much tightness around that area," he added.
Dr Parmar advised the women to switch to loose jeans and said after six weeks the discomfort had gone. He predicted the problem could become common as more and more people switch to that style of jeans.

The doomsday December sales figures that have been forecast since before all the presents were even unwrapped have indeed come to pass. From department stores to discounters, retailers reported lower than expected sales Thursday. A few bright spots shone through the clouds cast by conservative consumers though.
Gap continued its recent winning streak last month, with same-store sales up five percent - even higher than Wall Street's 3.6 percent prediction - and total sales climbing 10 percent from last year, to $2.5 billion. The company's most budget brand, Old Navy, led the group with a nine percent rise in comparable store sales. The Gap brand's domestic stores brought up the rear with only a two percent increase.
For the two-month period ending December 31, 2002, Urban Outfitters' same-store sales were up 1.5 percent, with Anthropologie climbing two percent and lower-priced Urban retail rising four percent. Total sales were up 14 percent, to $81.7 million. 
Chico's has continued to see sales skyrocket. The bastion for casually-attired suburban moms has posted same-store sales up 12.6 percent for the five weeks ended January 5, 2003. Net sales rose 42.1 percent, to $56.5 million.
Nordstrom was one of the only department stores to see its same-store sales climb in December. They increased 3.4 percent, with total sales up 9.2 percent, to $839.2 million.
Federated - which operates Bloomingdale's and Macy's - saw same-store sales slip 2.5 percent. Total sales dipped less than one percent, to $2.77 million.
Even the major discounters didn't do well in this holiday selling season. Wal-Mart posted same-store sales up only 2.3 percent, missing Wall Street's prediction of a 2.6 percent gain. Total sales rose 9.5 percent, to $31.58 billion.
Target Corp. missed the mark this holiday season with same-store sales falling 0.3 percent. The chain had originally anticipated posting a three to five percent gain. Total sales climbed 7.6 percent, to $7.04 billion.
Sears Roebuck & Co.'s December sales dropped 4.6 percent, but it still bested the Street's expectation of a 7.7 percent decline.
Mall-based retailers were disappointed to report that last-minute shoppers did not flood their stores this year to give their holiday numbers a much-needed boost.
Ann Taylor's same-store sales fell 14.6 percent, with net sales down 7.8 percent, to $154 million. 
J.Crew saw same-store sales in its retail unit fall 6.1 percent. Its direct division's sales were up 11.9 percent, however, compared to the same period last year.
Limited Brands' same-store sales stayed steady, and total sales rose four percent. While Victoria's Secret saw its same-store sales rise five percent, sales were down at Express, Limited Stores and Total Apparel.
Abercrombie & Fitch also saw flat same-store sales. Its total sales were up 19 percent though, to $296 million for the five weeks ended January 4, 2003.

          Kmart to Close 330 Stores,
               Cut 25,000 Jobs

It's more bad news at Kmart: the retailer announced today that it will close about 330 stores, and consequently, cut over 25,000 jobs. 
This would be the largest round of store closings since the beleaguered discount retailer declared bankruptcy about a year ago.
For weeks, analysts have been speculating that Kmart would be closing several hundred stores. Currently, the Troy, MI-based retailer has 1,800 stores open, after closing 283 locations last year due to its financial woes.

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