The National Retail Federation had some interesting numbers from Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend.
Low prices helped keep Americans’ budgets in check this weekend: on average, shoppers spent $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday, down from $423.55 last year.
That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another interpretation: consumers on average spent less than they did than the same period a year ago.
More than 141 million unique shoppers have already or will have shopped by the end of the big Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million.
More shoppers are always a good thing. But when you factor in how much money they spent, you get this: the number of shoppers over the weekend grew just 1.4 percent while spending fell 4 percent.
Yikes. A 1.4 percent gain in shoppers hardly equals out a 4 percent decline in spending. Retailers are essentially brawling over a barely growing pool of Black Friday shoppers who are actually spending less than did a year ago.
In addition, there is one less shopping week this year because Thanksgiving fell on the last week of November. Suddenly, a season with an already low margin of (profit) error just got a little more perilous.
Target Corp. CEO Gregg Steinhafel acknowledges that the retailer suffers from a “price perception” problem in Canada. Consumers readily buy Target’s “discretionary” merchandise like clothes and home.
But when it comes to “non discretionary” items – such as food and healthcare – shoppers assume Target’s prices are much higher than that of Wal-Mart or Loblaws.
For that reason, Target’s Canadian sales have fallen below the company’s original projections. Still, the company’s price perception woes are not exclusive to Canadians.
Over the past three years, Target has struggled with weak U.S. sales during the crucial holiday shopping period. Part of Target’s problem is that the company has not cut prices as aggressively as its competitors, analysts say. Holiday is largely about discounting, but Target has refused to chase what it calls “temporary market share” at the expense of profit margins.
In any case, Target’s prices are probably not materially more expensive than rivals. The company already offers 5 percent off each individual purchase with a REDcard. And Target recently decided to match online and in-store prices of competitors like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, and offer free shipping.
“There isn’t going to be a meaningful change in our [holiday] strategy, because day-in and day ... our prices are competitive,” Steinhafel told analysts during a recent conference call. “We have a very strong value proposition and our circular pricing is even more aggressive than that and we take market leading positions.”
But perception doesn’t always match reality. Target’s prices may be competitive, but Americans looking for deals will likely assume Wal-Mart and Amazon have lower prices, analysts say.
“For the last three holiday seasons, [Target] has performed poorly,” Daniel Binder, a retail analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a recent research note. “This appears to reflect its less aggressive pricing message even as its everyday low prices competitive.”
“We do remain concerned that its less aggressive promotional posture during the biggest quarter may contribute to a loss of mind share with its core customers,” Binder wrote.
In other words, for all of its marketing prowess, Target doesn’t effectively communicate to consumers its holiday prices are just as good if not better than everyone else’s.
To address soft sales in Canada, Steinhafel promised to take quick action to educate consumers.
“We’re going to make sure that our prices get more notice than they have been up to this point,” Steinhafel said. “Part of that was a conscious plan on our part to make sure that we really won in home and apparel and we feel real good about where we’re in those two businesses today, so we’re proud of that fact.”
“Now we have to just turn on the gas a little bit on the other side of the equation to make sure that we’re getting the Canadian guest to understand what great values we offer,” he said.
Steinhafel could easily apply that same logic to American consumers come November and December.
Southdale center announced Wednesday that three new stores will open this fall.
Sperry Top-Sider will open a 2,156 square foot store. Many Twin Cities' shoe retailers sell the Sperry brand, but the Southdale store will be the first in Minnesota.
Vera Bradley, known for handbags, luggage and backpacks, will open a 2,300 square foot store. A second Vera Bradley retail location opened in Mall of America in 2011.
Kay Jewelers, with 15 locations in Minnesota, rejoins the Southdale mix after a two year absence. "it's a mainstream acquisition but a good one, " said Jim McComb, a Twin Cities retail analyst with the McComb Group.
McComb expects more new tenant announcements from Southdale with Simon Property Group at the helm. Mall giant Simon of Indianapolis purchased the center in 2011. Since then, they've improved the mall's marketing, visibility and sightlines, said McComb. "The past few owners haven't had the capital necessary to make the improvements," he said. "Simon has saved the mall."
Southdale, the nation's first enclosed shopping center, opened in 1956. With more than 100 specialty stores, it is anchored by Macy's, Herberger's and JC Penney.
The Mall of America said Monday that it will add nine new stores to its lineup over the next few months.
Here's the list, including opening dates:
Blast Blow Dry Bar - Customized blowouts, beautiful updo styling,and professional makeup that is done by fun, energetic stylists that have a passion for styling hair and providing great customer service!
Tentative Opening June 1
Bruegger's Bagels - Guests can choose from more than 20 different bagel varieties, and can top their favorite bagel with a wide selection of 100 percent made-in-Vermont cream cheese flavors.
Tentative Spring 2013
Foreign Exchange - Foreign Exchange strives to unify different cultures and diversities through fashion. Our stores feature items designed and created by individuals from all over the world.
SABON - SABON brings to you the power of the Dead Sea combined with the healing energy of aromatherapy in luxurious bath and body products.
Tentative April 22
Victorinox Swiss Army - Makers of the Original Swiss Army Knife, Victorinox Swiss Army continues to showcase its values of innovation, iconic design, functionality and quality in all its products.
Tentative May 15
Madewell - We're Madewell. We're jeans makers and so much more (head to toe, we've got it all). We're your best friend and personal stylist rolled into one. Tried and true, since 1937.
Tentative Fall 2013
Silver Jeans Co. - Silver Jeans Co. gives its fashion-savvy but cost-conscious customer the latest styles and best quality at a price that he or she can afford.
Tentative August 2013
Moods of Norway- Moods of Norway is an International Lifestyle Design Concept that combines a Norwegian Heritage with International trends. Norway and beyond!
Tentative Fall 2013
Tentative May 2013
Joel Waller will receive an annual salary of $500,000 as the interim CEO of Christopher & Banks, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Waller, a former CEO of Wilsons Leather, will also receive about 50,000 shares in restricted stock.
Waller's compensation package is similar to the man he replaced, Larry Barenbaum, who abruptly left the Plymouth-based women's apparel retailer last month.
Last year, Barenbaum hired Waller to a one year contract as president to help revive the struggling retailer, especially its merchandising efforts.
After Barenbaum's exit, Waller told the Star Tribune he had no interest in the CEO job on a permanent basis.
The latest SEC document states Waller's employment contract will still expire in December.
As it turns out, the most violent disturbance at the Mall of America in 15 years was just another teenage fight that quickly spiraled out of control.
Bloomington police are still investigating the Dec. 26 melee but officials now think it was "most likely" random, said deputy chief Rick Hart.
Mall of America officials referred questions to the Bloomington Police.
The YouTube footage of the melee that quickly spread throughout the mall led credence to the theory the fight was premeditated, perhaps fueled by social media.
Earlier that day, rumors spread on social media that rappers Lil Wayne and Drake would perform at the MOA. Teenagers flock to the mall. A fight breaks out in the food court. Minutes later, teenagers are throwing fists and chairs at one another.
MOA officials were so caught off guard by the fight that they also initially suspected the brawl was organized via Twitter and Facebook. A "flash mob" with more sinister intentions perhaps?
Adding to the confusion was the mall's initial decision, which it quickly reversed, to lock down the property. Eventually, some stores closed early on one of the year's busiest shopping days.
All in all, 10 people were arrested for disorderly conduct, including four juveniles: a 15-year-old, a 16-year-old and two 17-year-olds.
Hart, the spokesman, said police are still working with the mall to identify additional suspects. Those already arrested could still face more serious charges, including rioting, a gross misdemeanor, and assault, a felony.