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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

Memorial Day sales--How good are they?

Memorial Day weekend doesn't stack up with 4th of July or Labor Day for good sales. It's too early for any serious summer sales, so don't go looking for great deals on grills or patio furniture, according to Dealnews.

But if the weather turns rainy this weekend, check your favorite websites or stores for deals. The discount may only be 10 or 15% in some cases, but it may be site-or-storewide. J Crew is discounting everything including sale merch 30% with the code WEEKEND. Banana Republic is 40% off with the code BRSUMMER and Crate & Barrel is taking 15% off full-price, non-furniture items with code SAVE15.

All of the above codes can be used online or in stores. It's a good reminder to get on the email or social media lists to receive notifications of sales. If you don't see a discount on the site, ask for the Memorial Day discount code in store or in an online chat.

Locally, major thrift stores will be discounting most of their wares 50% on Memorial Day only. I think I'll use part of the weekend to collect items to donate to one of the thrift stores. FYI, if you didn't the stories about Savers, Valu Thrift and Unique Thrift being sued by the Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, check it out here.

Savers and its affiliates are for-profit retailers, who only give nonprofit thrifts 40 cents per pound and often nothing at all, according to the suit. If you want your donated goods to get the biggest bang for the buck, donate directly to the charities, not Savers, Unique or Valu Thrift.

Did you notice holes in Target's shoe department in recent months?

Did you notice Target's shoe department was out of stock on some items in recent months?

If so, you're a keen observer. Executives of the Minneapolis-based retailer nodded to the lighter inventories in shoes as one of the casualties of the West Coast ports slowdown earlier this year that resulted from a labor dispute. The labor issue has since been resolved though it took awhile for the ports to work through a backlog of shipments.

Like a number of other retailers, Target grappled with the delays by ordering extra inventory and re-routing shipments to other ports.

"However, despite these efforts, some categories including shoes, saw spotty in-stocks in the quarter and saw sales accelerate as receipts began to flow and in-stocks recovered," Kathee Tesija, Target's chief merchandising officer, told analysts on a conference call this morning.

She added that those delays are now "fully behind us."

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart executives said this week said the gridlock at the West Coast ports delayed shipments of TVs to Sam's Club and Walmart earlier this year.

Consulting firm Kurt Salmon has estimated that the West Coast ports congestion could cost retailers as much as $7 billion this year.