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While everyone gears up for Sales Day, here are some bigger picture points that we’ve picked up on in days that further highlight the changing industry landscape.

 

LEVINE’S LOW DOWN

Some Notable Call Outs

  • As the world watches the success and growth of online retailers such as Amazon, one must take a look at Ebay’s latest venture for the holiday season. For a limited time beginning November 20th, Ebay will open a pop-up store in midtown Manhattan selling apparel, cosmetics, electronics, toys, and home products. The offering appears to be in partnership with a small list of well recognized brands looking to drum up some “buzz” over the holiday season. Are online retailers recognizing that they need a physical presence as well? Probably not, but this is certainly noteworthy.
  • With the buzz building around the Dollar General IPO, I wanted to highlight a retailer that we’re sure to see come public over the next couple of years. Five Below is the latest incarnation of the “dollar store” model, with all items priced between $1-$5. The retailer focuses on trend right products primarily for teen and tween consumers (ranging from candy to electronics). The chain currently operates 102 stores, and expects to double by the end of next year. It’s amazing how much better merchandising can be when pricing expands five-fold to $5!
  • I prefer not to recycle the news, but the latest data point out of Japan’s Fast Retailing unit, UNIQLO, is worth repeating. The company, which is predominantly anchored in Japan, but has one store in NYC, just reported a 36% increase in same-store sales for October. The company’s value priced basic merchandising offerings (think Gap) mixed with a small amount of fashion product (this month launched J+, a collaboration with Jil Sander) is resonating with consumers across the globe. Given this success, and the recent line out the door in Soho during the J+ launch, it will not be long before UNIQLO looks to build a bigger presence here in the US.
  • We love quantifying things at Research Edge. But occasionally we’ll take note of something that takes us into the dreaded ‘qualitative’ analytical zone (if there is such a thing).  Here’s an observation… We all know that over the past several years retailers have become more efficient with inventory management which is some ways has resulted in lower-risk, better executed seasonal transitions.  So with Halloween now over, the biggest and most important transition is about to be underway.  Or is it?  I have been noticing what I’m calling the “Christmas Creep”  lately.  This is merely the phenomenon where retailers are setting Christmas displays, decorations, and merchandise even before Halloween was over.  Traditionally, Thanksgiving and Black Friday have marked the official beginning of the holiday season.  Not so in 2009.  I’m not sure if creating an in-store atmosphere really induces early holiday shopping or just annoys consumers.  To me it seems that an extra month of in your face holiday marketing and hype might lead to “holiday fatigue”. 

With anecdotes still coming out of WalMart surrounding pronounced payroll cycles, do retailers really expect these cash strapped consumers to step up and get their holiday shopping done before the Macy’s Day Parade?  Offensive, goofy, or simply a case of trying too hard to give people a reason to shop, one thing is sure.  The longer holiday merchandise sits out there, the more risk ensues that some retailers will become impatient and pull the promotional trigger.  And if you’re totally confused by all of this, just dig through your recycling bin to find last weekend’s circulars which included holiday kickoffs from Best Buy, Target, and Toys R Us. Happy Holidays!

MORNING NEWS 

 

WTO Report Shows Global Exports Holding Ground - Apparel exports have fared better than other types of consumer goods during the global financial downturn, according to a recent study from the World Trade Organization. Global apparel exports showed “a mere 2.1 percent decline” during the fourth quarter of 2008, said the report, marking the only contracting quarter of the year. Between January and September, the value of exports grew 4.6 percent to $362 billion. China showed strength during the last quarter of the year, with the value of its apparel exports rising 10.9 percent. The country was ranked as the world’s top apparel exporter last year, with shipments up 4 percent to $120 billion. China’s exports to the U.S. were flat at $28.5 billion, but exports to the European Union spiked 23 percent to $39.8 billion. <wwd.com>

Stanley, Black & Decker to Combine on Fourth Try in 3 Decades - Stanley Works agreed to purchase Black & Decker Corp. yesterday for $3.5 billion in stock after on-and-off talks that spanned almost three decades. The companies discussed combining three other times over about 27 years, Black & Decker Chief Executive Officer Nolan Archibald said in an interview. Stanley Works’ offer values Black & Decker, the maker of DeWalt power drills and Price Pfister faucets, at about $57.57 a share, or 22 percent more than yesterday’s closing price. <bloomberg.com>

Steiner Agrees to Buy Bliss for $100M - Steiner Leisure Ltd. has agreed to acquire Bliss World Holdings, Inc. from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. for $100 million, a divestiture that will allow Starwood to focus more closely on its core hospitality business, the firm stated Monday. The deal, expected to close on or before Dec. 31, calls for Steiner to purchase all the issued and outstanding capital stock of Bliss. The acquisition is expected to be slightly accretive to Steiner’s 2010 earnings, according to the company, which operates spas and salons on 126 cruise ships and in 51 resort spas and two luxury day spas. <wwd.com>

Amazon Closes Zappos Acquisition - Amazon.com, Inc. completed its acquisition of Zappos.com. Thanks to an increase in Amazon's stock price, Amazon will pay $1.2 billion, or $117.4 a share, for the business,  up from $928 million when the deal was first announced on July 22, 2009. As expected, the Zappos management team will remain intact and the company will continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary with headquarters in Las Vegas, NV. In a letter to employees entitled "It's official!," Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com, wrote: Earlier this year, on July 22, we signed an agreement to join forces with Amazon. As I mentioned in my email to employees at the time, we plan to continue to run Zappos the way we have always run Zappos -- continuing to do what we believe is best for our brand, our culture, and our business. <sportsonesource.com>

Luxury apparel retailer leaps in Hong Kong debut - Shares of Trinity Ltd. jumped in Hong Kong on their first day of trading Tuesday, with investors drawn to the stock on the basis of its association with global brand supply-chain manager Li & Fung Ltd. Trinity's shares ended the morning session at 2.69 Hong Kong dollars (35 U.S. cents), up 62% from its initial offer price, after trading as high at 82%. The company -- a retailer of branded menswear such as like Cerruti 1881, Gieves & Hawkes and Kent & Curwen -- raised $96 million in its initial public offer last month. <marketwatch.com>

With CIT in Bankruptcy, Industry Holds Its Breath - The pressure is still on at CIT Group Inc. Even with the filing of a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in Manhattan federal court Sunday, serious questions remain about the lender’s business, which is responsible for about 60 percent of factoring volume to the U.S. apparel industry — including the status of new contracts. And a sale of the factoring unit, considered CIT’s crown jewel, cannot be ruled out. <wwd.com>

Study Predicts Online Holiday Sales Boost - A Forrester Research Inc. report predicted Monday that online retail sales in all categories except travel will reach $44.7 billion during November and December, an increase of 8 percent over 2008. Relatively slow sales following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the freezing of the credit markets in October last year make it easier for retailers to show strong growth this holiday period, the report acknowledged. In addition, the number of consumers saying they plan to buy products and services online this season increased 2 percent to 94 percent this year. Among retailers, 72 percent said they expect an increase in sales in the period. <wwd.com>

Best Buy to Open Online Store for Movies With Sonic Solutions - Best Buy Co., the world’s largest electronics retailer, will start an online store for movies and television shows that will compete with Apple Inc.’s iTunes. The service will use technology licensed from Sonic Solutions Inc., according to a statement today from both companies. Sonic’s Roxio CinemaNow system will be installed on televisions, computers, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and mobile phones sold by Richfield, Minnesota-based Best Buy. The digital video store expands Best Buy’s foray into services, helping the company increase customer loyalty, Chief Executive Officer Brian Dunn said in the statement. <bloomberg.com>

Escada Insolvency Proceedings Begin - Insolvency proceedings over the assets of Escada AG were opened Sunday at the Munich Municipal court. The acting insolvency administrator, Munich attorney Christian Gerloff, now has the power of administration and control over all assets and the power of representation of Escada. The company filed an insolvency petition on Aug. 13. <wwd.com>

Brazil: Leather exports down 48% in value - Brazil’s hide and leather exports brought in US$ 791 million in export revenues between January and September, down by 48% compared to the same period a year ago. However, the Brazilian Tanners Council (CICB) has pointed out that exports have been slowly recovering and increased by 10% in volume terms during September 2009 compared to the month before. The organisation also said that a higher proportion of leather exports are now leaving Brazil as crust or finished leather, meaning that Brazilian tanners are adding more value than before to their country’s raw material. <fashionnetasia.com>

Hong Kong: Retail sales growth back on track in September - Hong Kong's retail sales in September grew by 2.4% year on year to HK$21.4 billion, according to the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong SAR government. After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of retail sales increased by 1.0% year on year in September. "The retail sales reverted to a small year-on-year increase in September after falling for seven consecutive months, in tandem with a further improvement in local consumer spending and also the revival in inbound tourism," a spokesman said. <fashionnetasia.com>

Textile Plan in Pakistan Founders - Despite the support of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, the country’s new five-year textile policy hasn’t been implemented after three months. The initiative focuses on gas and electricity supply, full refund of past research and development claims, availability of 5 percent export refinancing, relief on long-term loans and tax free import of machinery. <wwd.com>

Jordan Addresses Alleged Abuses in Garment Sector - Jordan instituted reforms of its labor laws and strengthened its labor compliance and monitoring over the last year in an effort to address concerns about alleged abuses in the country’s apparel sector, the minister of labor said Wednesday. Gazi Shbaikat, Jordan’s labor minister, and a delegation of officials from the Ministry of Labor unveiled a progress report and met with industry executives and U.S. officials last week to detail the country’s labor reform efforts in the apparel sector. <wwd.com>

Dick's SG to Open First Store In Washington - Dick's Sporting Goods plans to open its first Washington store at South Hill Mall in Puyallup next spring, according to the Seattle Times. The 60,000 square feet store covers space previously occupied by Circuit City and Linens 'n Things. It had been empty since the two chains closed all their stores in the past year. Helped by it's acquisition of Chick's Sporting Goods, Dick's SG operates now has 15 stores in California. It has one in Oregon, with six more locations there "coming soon," many of them for Joe's Sports locations. <sportsonesource.com>

New York & Co. Sues Penney's Over Ads - New York & Company Inc. has asked a federal court to halt a J.C. Penney Co. Inc. ad campaign that it says infringes on its own. In a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the New York-based specialty retailer alleged that Penney’s “NYC Style” slogan treads too closely to the “NY Style” tag line it has used since August 2008. <wwd.com>

Lucy Celebrates 10 Years - Lucy Activewear, a division of VF Corp., will celebrate its 10th year in business this month.To honor the anniversary, the brand is launching a contest inviting customers to share their inspiration. Customers can enter on the lucy Facebook wall at www.facebook.com/lucy and/or via e-mail at . The top entry in the video category wins a $500 shopping spree and the leading essay entry wins $250 to spend at lucy. <sportsonesource.com>