Game on — and retailers don’t want to take chances with the fragile consumer psyche.
After more than a year of recession fallout that made holiday 2008 a retail Waterloo, stores will put their austerity strategies to the stiffest test when the season moves into high gear on Black Friday.
But the mood of shoppers is a stiff challenge, although after a year of tightened wallets and economic hardship, there is a perception of some pent-up demand among consumers that could benefit stores. (See story, opposite page).
Lew Frankfort, chief executive officer of Coach, said consumers have been trained to wait for sales, and the response of retailers to that face-off will dictate the tone of the holiday.
“While Coach does not go ‘on sale’ in our retail stores, we do expect that the atmosphere will likely remain very promotional at retail, irrespective of cleaner inventories, as the customer has been trained to wait for promotions,” he said. “We’re confident that this holiday will be better than last.”
Even as the consumer “is feeling somewhat better about the economy…she is looking for innovation, relevance and value — prices need to make sense,” Frankfort said. “She is also looking to be surprised and delighted. Playing it safe won’t work for retailers.”
More stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day and the deals will continue until Cyber Monday, traditionally the busiest day for e-commerce. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., applying price-cutting pressure on all fronts as it seeks to grab the biggest chunks of consumers’ disposable incomes, will get a jump start on Thanksgiving Day when it offers 50 online-only specials with savings of as much as 40 percent on electronics, video games and toys.
“The starting gun is firing earlier,” said Bill Lewis, executive vice president of Karabus Management. “The race is much more value driven with more online advertising. Consumers are using mobile devices to check prices. The consumer will comparison shop more and exchange more to get the best price.”
Wal-Mart made the first warning shot, pledging to match local competitors’ advertised prices other than limited-quantity doorbusters.
Kmart began its “Better Than Black Friday” doorbusters program on Nov. 6, along with “Blue Friday” specials throughout the month. Products include $15 Protégé boys’ basketball shoes, $6.99 men’s Basic Editions jeans and Little Letters Learning Laptops at 50 percent off.
Since mid-November, Sears Holdings Corp. has been advertising “Black Friday Now” doorbusters each Saturday on products ranging from home electronics and jewelry to apparel. The retailer, which is also touting its layaway policy, is suggesting customers reserve their gifts early, pay for them over time and pick them up right before the holidays. A Black Friday VIP Sweepstakes on Facebook and Sears’ Web site gives winners a $500 gift certificate and the chance to shop the retailer’s Black Friday deals today.
Kohl’s Corp. will have more than 300 items specially selected for Black Friday. Stores will open at 4 a.m. that day. The company is also offering specials on its Web site beginning at midnight on Friday.
Sam’s Club will open on Friday at 5 a.m. and serve a hot breakfast to members only, along with savings on 40 items. Advertised specials include Vizio 47-inch LCD TVs for $997; a three-piece 1/3-carat diamond and sterling silver bracelet set, $148, and toys for $15 and $20.
And, borrowing a page from the mass crowd, Lord & Taylor for the first time will open at 5 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. Mary Beth Sheridan, executive vice president of stores, said the retailer is responding to the competition. Also on Friday, L&T will give doorbuster gift cards good for $20 off on purchases of $40 or more to early-morning shoppers.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)