The website istobe offers a daily free shipping report for over 500 online retailers, where you can quickly see whether there’s a minimum purchase requirement or if the retailer offers free shipping at all. It’s a good resource to use as you compare prices, and istobe says they update it daily.
American Airlines is beginning to experiment with turning flights into shopping opportunities, reports the New York Times. We’re not just talking about in-flight purchases of Sky Mall schwag, either: the paper reports that limousine services, tickets to theme parks and Broadway shows, and train tickets are some of the offerings being considered or currently being tested.
Retailers have been hoping that we’d enter the annual Festival of Shopping with higher spirits than last year, but it looks like that might not happen after all. The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index was updated today, and it shows a drop to 66.0, “well below October’s reading of 70.6 and a sharp reversal of the 71.0 figure economists had expected.”
A new study says that 26% of US consumers “have no plans to return to their free-spending ways,” which probably doesn’t sound like good news to retailers. Even worse (for retailers), about a third say they’ve become less loyal.
Michael bought a Sony Pocket Reader last month, but with the exception of $10 bestsellers, he’s finding that other books he wants are priced higher than he’s willing to pay. For example, Tad Friend’s memoir Cheerful Money is $10 on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble, but $17.49 from Sony. Michael wants to know if we have any advice on how to get Sony to lower their prices.
Sears and Toys R Us are among retailers who have brought back layaway programs to help boost sales, reports Eve Mitchell at the San Jose Mercury News. Not all stores think it’s worth the effort, so you won’t find it at JCPenney, Target, or Walmart. However, if you want to use layaway at retailers that don’t offer it, there are now websites that can help.
If you live in Chicago, New York City, or Philadelphia, expect to start hearing some noise about Walmart in the coming months. The retailer has announced that it’s going to “step up efforts to mobilize local political support” so that it can finally open stores in those cities, reports the Financial Times.
One problem I’ve always had when shopping for jacked-up prices is I can’t find enough crazy to go along with it. Same thing for the crazy: I know where to go to get cart-loads of that, but I can’t find the 2400% markup! What I need, clearly, is for Radio Shack to open up specialty kiosks inside Target stores, so then— oh hey! It’s the Bullseye Mobile Solution!
If you like Best Buy, come to New York City! In November the company will open its first 24-hour store, in the remodeled carcass of the Circuit City that formerly anchored Union Square. In fact, it’s probably best we call it the Circuit City Best Buy to avoid confusion. According to Best Buy’s PR department, the store will also feature “the largest Best Buy Musical Instruments Department in the United States.”
Because retailers plan their Christmas offerings so far in advance, most were too far along with trendy or ostentatious Christmas merchandise to change course last year, reports the Associated Press. This year they’re prepared to pursue the fiscally conservative consumer, which means everyone is selling the holiday decor equivalent of comfort food.
Connecticut shoppers with bowel disorders, rejoice! Now, there’s a sentence we never expected to write. In order to prevent humiliating and undignified restroom access debacles for people with verified medical conditions, Connecticut has passed a law guaranteeing their access to otherwise off-limits restrooms in public places. The law went into effect on October 1st.
Here’s a new take on direct mail that we’ll call the “painfully honest but kind of sad” approach. George Anderson at RetailWire writes that a local men’s retailer sent him the following plea via snail mail.
Looks like the CPSC can afford donuts tomorrow for their office: Target has agreed to pay $600,000 for selling toys with too much lead on them from May 2006 to August 2007, reports Reuters. The fine “resolves allegations” over the issue, so now Target can focus on what it does best, which is act crazy.
We’re generally quite critical of companies that try to squelch negative online reviews, astroturf them, or just bribe customers for positive ones. Not only is this behavior bad for consumers, but the experience of one company shows that it’s bad for businesses, too.
Walmart is looking to grow. Yes, grow. Their latest initiative, “Project Impact,” aims to make stores easier and quicker to navigate, improve customer service, and to move in on competitors’ territory as much as possible.
Brand specialist Bertrand Pellegrin has published a new book for retailers that says if they want to capture the typical guy’s dollar, they need to create more inviting spaces to shop in. The author “points to electronics stores, strip clubs, sports bars and gyms as spots where men feel comfortable socializing and spending money.” That may all be (kind of) true, but that’s gonna make one hell of a noisy, sleazy, sweaty, drunken place to shop for clothes.