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Archive for the ‘Shopping trends’ Category

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Black Friday Debrief

Friday, November 25th, 2011

I’ve been up all night and I have a DVD and two pairs of pajamas to show for it. I spent most of Black Friday eve and overnight broadcasting from MyTalk107.1 and the calls from shoppers never stopped–even at 3 a.m. Here’s what we know:

1. Yes, people will shop on Thanksgiving. Mall of America reports 15,000 shoppers showed up for its midnight opening. By 10 a.m., 81,000-that’s right–had walked through the doors, almost halfway to last year’s total of 200,000 Black Friday shoppers, a record MOA expects to break today. Target had 1,500 in line when the Bloomington, Minn. store opened at midnight. In California, a Target line topped 6,000. Retail analysts are already predicted midnight may be the new normal for Black Friday openings.

2. TVs are big. In size, and Black Friday popularity. The prices we’re seeing today are rock bottom, and experts don’t expect them to go much lower, even as the Super Bowl approaches. So if you can still find a deal on a LCD screen, take it.

3. Wal-Mart needs to regroup. Truly, the only negative shopping reports we heard from the front lines were from Wal-Mart. Shoppers did not have to wait outside, since the store was open all Thanksgiving, but that may have actually led to more problems. The “doorbuster” items, which went on sale at 10 p.m. and another round at midnight, were on shrink-wrapped palates in the aisles. So customers gathered around them, leading to pile ups, traffic jams and walking hazards in the crowd. We talked to many shoppers who left empty handed.

4. Speak up. Yes, it’s a crazy day, but that hasn’t stopped some super shoppers from asking for price matches, and often, they get them. My favorite pay off story came from a caller who was annoyed by a “Buy One Get One” offer. He expected if he bought one, he’d get one. Right? Turns out, it was buy one, get one 50 percent off. When he complained at Menards, they gave him the second item for free.

5. Black Friday this year is truly about hitting the stores. Retailers are saving their best online deals for Cyber Monday.

6. Shopping is the American way. Shopping for themselves, shopping with friends, shopping just to be part of event. We entered an alternative universe where people gladly spent the night out, in crowds, spending money, waiting in lines and not even complaining about it.

Black Friday Midnight Madness

Friday, October 28th, 2011

In the constant quest to get shoppers excited and make the evening news, both Target and Mall of America announced today their plans to open at midnight on Black Friday. It actually seems more civilized than 3 or 4 a.m. I’d rather stay up late than crawl out of bed in the middle of the night to shop.

Black Friday hours have been creeping earlier for years. Last year, several chains, including Sears and Gap, were open on Thanksgiving Day. Premium Outlets, including Albertville, has opened at midnight the past few years–creating traffic jams in the process.

Target says the decision to open four hours earlier than last year was based on customer demand. Mall of America has 70 of its 500-plus retailers signed on for the midnight opening. It will be interesting to see what the deals are like: longer hours could actually help retailers create more of a party atmosphere–putting the emphasis on the event of shopping, rather than the blockbuster deals that have become synonymous with Black Friday. But it would have to be a really excellent party. Discounts are the reward for staying up late or rising extra early, and it won’t be easy to change that.

P.S.: Macy’s announced on Monday that its stores will open at midnight on Black Friday as well.

Will you shop at midnight?

Changes at Parc Boutique

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Men, you had your chance. Parc Boutique tried offering you something other than a chair to sit in while your girlfriends and spouses shopped. Owner Thao Nguyen wanted to help you look cool for the weekend in premium denim, Ben Sherman shirts and Alternative Apparel tees. But you didn’t buy enough – and interestingly, your gals were too busy shopping for themselves to worry about outfitting you, despite the convenience. Women will shop wherever there is stuff to buy. Men won’t bother – even if it’s right in front of them and they’re bored, waiting for you to decide if you look fat in those jeans. When they finally do muster up the energy to shop, guys tend to go somewhere that has everything they need, rather than a women’s boutique where they might find one shirt. So, like many women’s boutique owners who tried it before her, Nguyen is discontinuing men’s apparel. Everything remaining is now 50 percent off.

As one department closes, another opens: Getting men’s out of the way will give Parc Boutique space to add handbags and shoes. Like the apparel, expect smaller, contemporary lines, priced under $100. The goods will arrive in August!

Booster at Creative Kidstuff

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Creative Kidstuff stores will unveil a new department Tuesday, May 24 that goes beyond toys. Booster is aimed at the rest of the family – teens, parents, even grandparents – with a mix of function and fun at a variety of price points. Official tagline: “Booster – An ever evolving collection of tools and treasures to amp up everyday life.” The theme will change every 60 days. First up: Country Fair Flair. You’ll find pick-n-pack soda pop, aprons, hammocks and mason jars with illuminated tops.  Creative Kidstuff has been scouring markets around the world for months to bring in fresh ideas.
Twin Cities biz whiz Stacey Finnegan sold il Vostro Boutique at 50th & France to focus on an innovative e-commerce site launching today: On the surface, it’s another online store, selling many of the contemporary brands Finnegan carried in her bricks and mortar store – Hale Bob, Petit Pois, Cirelo jewelry. But her intent is to create the next chapter in interactive online retailing. Zinq’s tagline: “Fashion + Technology + Entertainment. Be part of the story.”
Zinq is partnering with brands like Hale Bob to produce fashion shows featuring upcoming collection. Yes, you can already see fashion shows in real time elsewhere in cyberland. But Zinq will take orders on the spot. So consumers can not only  preview next season’s trends, but reserve them before they hit stores. The customer gets to be first; the manufacturer finds out what will sell and can adjust production accordingly to cut back on overstock.
Finnegan believes this is the answer to the damaging cycle of discounting and sale buying fueled by overstock and designer discount websites. “We’re training people to wait until they get everything at a price that can’t sustain the designer anymore,” Finnegan says. “The more we play into these Gilt Groupe sites, the damage we’re doing to the whole fashion ecosystem is significant. I’m trying to build excitement at the front end.”
Stay tuned for details: Zinq plans to stage its first live fashion show in Minneapolis (to be broadcast online) in May. Meanwhile, enjoy an introductory offer of 20 percent off Hale Bob and a gift with purchase, April 9 to 17.

Rewards for closet cleaning

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Reduce the closet clutter, do good for the world by recycling perfectly good clothes and justify a new purchase with a discounts. Sounds like a formula for success. Amore & Fede is launching a Denim Exchange program at its 50th & France store this week – following in the footsteps of Bibelot, which added resale at its Como store last year. I bet we’ll see more of this repurposing and rewarding from local retailers  anxious to keep us shopping. Here’s how it works at Amore & Fede: earn up to 25 “exchange dollars” for your gently worn jeans – maximize your earnings by bringing in brands sold at the store, like Miss Me, True Religion and Rock & Republic. The used jeans will be available for sale, along with Amore & Fede’s huge stock of new denim. The store plans to expand its exchange program to cruisewear in the coming weeks.

Shopping predictions for 2011

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Year end recap lists are fun, but I’m more intrigued by those that dare to look ahead. Ann Mack is director of trendspotting for JWT marketing group. These are just a few emerging trends she says we should watch for in 2011:

The Nail Polish Economy: The old story goes, women treat themselves to lipstick during times of economic uncertainty. But Mack says nail polish sales continue to rise, making it the “it” accessory. Look for unusual takes, like leather nails and purposefully chipped nails. And watch for unexpected brands to get in on the trend: Volvo, for example, is offering polishes that match three color options for the new S60.

High-end temporary tattoos: One has only to look at Eva Longoria Parker’s tattooed ode to her soon-to-be-ex to shy away from permanence. “We’re a non-commitment culture,” Mack says. As such, temporary skin art is gaining popularity…beyond grade-school birthday parties. Chanel and House of Dereon are among the fashion houses doing limited addition temporary tattoos.

Virtual Mirrors: A camera displays a customer’s image on a screen, which then overlays various types of makeup, allowing shoppers to preview products and play with options. It works with clothes, too – and allows shoppers to share looks via mobile and social media. Shiseido is rolling out the technology in Europe; Wal-Mart is testing it in the U.S.

F-Commerce: Look for more opportunities to buy and sell without ever leaving Facebook. Victoria’s Secret, and Delta Airlines are already doing it.

Costlier Cotton: The global cotton supply has taken a hit due to a severe drought in China, floods in Pakistan and other disturbances. As a result, Mack says consumers will likely feel the effect with higher prices.

Bamboo: It’s already touted as the sustainable building material of the future. Now, Garnier Nutrisse Hair Color is using bamboo extract in its HerbaShine for “radiant color.” Mack expects to see more bamboo everywhere from bicycles to clothing to kitchenware.

Tube-Free Toilet Paper: Toilet paper is undergoing its biggest change in a century, Mack says. Kimberly-Clark’s Scott Naturals is coming out with a tube-free version (currently being tested in select U.S. stores), and we’ll see more brands follow suit in a bid to better compete on the green front.

Macy’s around the clock

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

It’s 9:30 p.m. and the malls are getting ready to close – but not Macy’s. The Rosedale Center store and select others nationwide will be open straight through 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Who shops Macy’s at 3 a.m.? Apparently enough insomniacs that it justified bringing this Christmas campaign back for a second year.

Post Pop Up

Friday, December 10th, 2010

The whole idea of the “pop up shop” is to keep us interested – it’s there just one weekend so you’ve got to shop now. It might pop up in one place this week, and another next month. But now, so many pop ups are popping up that Sairey Gernes wanted to avoid the term for her shopping event next week. She’s calling it the No-Storefront Storefront. Cumbersome, but gets your attention. Gernes is the founder of Irely Intimates with a design studio and manufacturing facility on the West Side of St. Paul. She’s opening her space to several other local, women-owned brands: Urban Junket and Post- bags, StormSister Spatique beauty products, Foat lifestyle apparel, Nontoxique nail products and Attagirl crocheted accessories. They’re promising shopping, mingling and great deals. Takes place 4 to 9 p.m. Dec. 16; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 17 to 19 at 432 Wabasha St. S., St. Paul.

The trick to Halloween at the mall

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

An M&M hands out treats to my Elmo and others at Coach

I took my 6-year-old vampire and 2-year-old Elmo to the mall trick-or-treat this afternoon because A) Not even massive quantities of Skittles and Three Musketeers could have powered me through another four hours of answering, “Not until the sun sets” when asked every five minutes, “Is it time to go trick or treating?” B) I don’t like to be cold. And C) I thought perhaps I might steal a few minutes to browse for a new sweater.

As Halloween spending continues to rise – $5.8 billion by this year’s estimates – shopping centers and main street shopping districts have figured out how to play up their status at the modern day town center, giving us a place to show off our little Batmans and princesses before nightfall. I was at Southdale Center, which did a fine job of creating a party atmosphere with crafts in center court, giveaways for kids and train rides (albeit, $3 a pop). But as we left the Aveda store with nothing more than a Starburst, I couldn’t help but think most retailers did not make the most of this animated crowd – a crowd that included many who surely would not have been shopping today, were it not for the desire to find a temperature controlled place to celebrate; a crowd that included many who would gladly have been shopping, were they not chaperoning Harry Potter or Mini Mouse.

It’s not that I’m trying to pick on Aveda, but for a retailer that frequently boasts about its free tea and mini massages, why not serve up a little slice of that bliss to the handlers of the little monsters? How about tossing us a sample size lotion, the scent of which would have lasted long after the sugar high faded? Likewise, Bath & Body Works missed a chance to slip shoppers a lip balm or scented hand sanitizer. The Children’s Place skipped Halloween, as did Abercrombie, which plays like a bad attitude for stores that clothe the trick-or-treating set. Macy’s did nothing, which was sadly expected. But the non-player that really got me: Godiva. A chocolate shop – boycotting the mall trick or treat? As if I would consider shelling out $10 for two of their “Halloween chocolates” when they didn’t even care enough to give kids a little taste? Meanwhile, Cinnabon, which also earns its keep selling treats gave away mini cupcakes and Ben & Jerry’s and the smoothie bar had chocolates at the ready.

The one store that really seemed to make the most of the occasion: The Limited, which handed out mini chocolates wrapped with orange paper that said “Sweet Treat – A Gift from the Limited (Unwrap to see yours).” Inside the wrapper was a coupon for 25 percent off – good through tomorrow.  So sweet. So simple. So useful – especially considering I never did get time today to look for that sweater. Now I know where to go first when I return to the mall.

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