SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Retail Sales - All posts tagged Retail Sales

  • Sep 1, 2011
    4:15 PM ET

    Slow Sales Post-Irene Could Spur Fall Deals

    iStockphoto

    Plenty of stores were slow to reopen post-Irene. That, and their slow traffic now as consumers recover, could mean better deals later this fall.

    While supermarkets and hardware stores are the typical beneficiaries of a pre-storm economic boost as shoppers stock up on flashlights and bottled water, spending in a disaster’s aftermath is just as predictable. “It’s recovery and restaurants, and nothing else,” says Scott Bernhardt, the chief operating officer for Planalytics, a research firm that studies weather and business.

    Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s are usually the first to reopen. And as today’s Wall Street Journal reports, the Federal Emergency Management Agency often considers how many Waffle House restaurants in an area are open, whether they are serving a limited menu, and how big the crowds are when determining just how bad a particular storm was. “After something like Irene, people hit the fast-service restaurants like crazy,” says Bernhardt, who is among the estimated 400,000-plus Pennsylvania residents still without power. “I don’t go to the grocery store, because I can’t store the food.”

  • Jul 29, 2011
    3:30 PM ET

    The Only 4%-Off Sale Consumers Go Wild For

    iStockphoto

    Bargain-hunting consumers have learned in recent years to pass up small sales and wait for 40% off or better. The rare exception: state sales tax holidays, which have the power to bring shoppers out in droves.

    Sixteen states are offering holidays this year (see the full list below), and the first, Mississippi’s, runs July 29 and 30. In most years, the 4% to 6% most consumers save during such a holiday isn’t worth the gas to get to the mall. But this year, with retailers’ back-to-school sales kicking in early and a less-than-stellar economic outlook, shopping while the tax is waived is a smart move, says Jeff Green, an independent retail analyst. “Everything is already on sale, and probably as low as it’s going to go, once you hit August 1,” he says.

    The National Retail Federation expects consumers will spend slightly less this year due to economic constraints, and even a 4% savings knocks $24.15 off the average family’s $603.63 tab for back-to-school spending. (If you have a college student, that’s at least $32.35 off their $808.71 in supplies.)

  • Jun 2, 2011
    6:36 PM ET

    Rich Man, Poor Man: Shoppers Go To Saks, Macy’s

    iStockphoto

    Bargain-hunters felt the fear and shopped anyway, lured by department store price cuts in May. High-end store Saks Inc. and department store Macy’s Inc. both bucked the trend for weaker-than-expected retail sales, which shows that consumers responded to spring sales in Saks and – in Macy’s case – never-ending sales all year-round. Saks reported same-store sales up a staggering 20% in May, showing that those with more money in their pockets still shopped, while Macy’s had a respectable 7.4% uptick in sales, a strong performance for one of the nation’s mid-tier department stores. Both exceeded the 4.9% growth in overall retail sales in May, according to the 24 retailers tracked by Thompson Reuters. Gap Inc., the country’s largest apparel retailer, saw same-store sales down 4% in May.

    But what does it all mean? Is this a case of extreme sales shopping?

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.