As anyone with a child above the age of four knows, electronics were the hot gifts of the season.
IPods, iPhones, Nintendo Wii game controllers and Envy cell phones seemed to trump apparel and toys this Christmas, especially since there wasn't one must-have item in either category. It's no surprise, then, that many electronics stores saw consumer traffic and sales soar, including Apple and Best Buy. There's a dichotomy, however, between the popularity of high-tech items and the movement afoot in the home industry toward simple, clean design, sustainable materials and eco-friendly messages.
Todd Slater, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, pegged Apple iPods, iPhones and Nintendo Wii game controllers as among the season's winners. In fact, Wii controllers were sold out in most stores early this month.
Best Buy has been posting strong financial results; for the coming quarter, analysts are expecting $1.82 earnings per share on $13.67 billion in revenues. Its large selection of PCs, Smart phones, iPods, video games and LCD TVs have a lot to do with it, but the company also sells appliances and furniture. Analysts dismiss Wal-Mart as a threat to Best Buy, calling the discounter a serious competitor but pointing out that hard core electronics shoppers prefer Best Buy because of its focus on the category.
But not all retailers in the category benefited from the boom. CompUSA is closing all its stores, while Circuit City's results have been lackluster even as Best Buy's have soared. According to a Circuit City spokeswoman, a survey of 3,000 men and women found that electronics was the top gift for 52 percent of men and women. Among women only, electronics was the top choice of 41 percent, followed by clothing, 24 percent, and jewelry, 20 percent. In an attempt to boost customer traffic, Circuit City extended its store hours during the season, made knowledgeable sales associates available by phone and opened its Web store 24/7. The retailer offered free shipping for items priced at least $24.
Barnes & Noble's holiday bestseller list for DVDs included "The Jungle Book" by Bruce Reitherman, "House M.D." Season 3, with Hugh Laurie, "My So Called Life" The Complete Series with Claire Danes, "It's a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart and "Grey's Anatomy" Season 3 with Ellen Pompeo. Many Barnes & Noble stores were packed in the weeks leading up to Christmas as customers sought the latest bestsellers as well as gift cards.
While housing market woes have impacted retailers such as Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn, Howard Lester, chairman and chief executive officer, said: "As we look forward to the fourth quarter, we are doing so with a heightened sense of caution due to our belief that the overall macro environment is having a greater impact on retail traffic than we previously anticipated."
"We're seeing a growing movement toward buying sustainable products," said Jane Berke, a spokeswoman at ABC Carpet and Home. "Our customers come to ABC because they want to be inspired. We give a percentage of sales to AMFAR."
This season, consumers gravitated toward items made by indigenous artisans such as textiles, wooden bowls and recycled glass. The store's collection of "gronded jewelry," made of green gold and sustainably mined diamonds, $100 to $1,800, was popular. So were Home and Planet air purifiers, from $345 to $1,000, to "filter out the pollution and toxins in New York City," she said. The store also sells organic mattresses from Greensleep, Royal Pedic and Natural Asleep, priced from $1,600 to $6,500.
ABC's January sale, which starts Thursday, features items reduced by up to 40 percent. "Furniture has really slowed down right now," she said. "It's all about gifts. And people know the tag sale is coming."
The Japanese-based retailer Muji, with stores in SoHo and Midtown, said sales at its new unit in the New York Times building on Eighth Avenue experienced higher sales volume since opening on Nov. 16. "The last two weeks of the holiday season, sales dramatically increased," said Mayuko Tanaka, a spokeswoman. Best-selling products during the holiday season included cardboard speakers, aluminum tables, molded sofas, polypropylene storage cases and beds in ash wood.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
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For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
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Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews