Saturday, December 23, 2006

Retailers and the Warmth

The New York Times sums up what this warm weather in the northeast is meaning for retailers: troubles (Click Here). As noted a few weeks back, perhaps a slight offset to the negative impact on the retailers, is the positive impact for builders and construction companies. We'll see.

As a quick anecdotal aside: number one son and I went for a quick retailing jaunt in Woodbury, NY today - to the sprawling 220 store Woodbury Commons Outlet and the nearby Super Wal Mart. Both were quieter than I had been bracing for. Wal Mart was shockingly quiet, even the cashier remarked how she was trying to figure out "where everyone was", in her words. At the Woodbury outlets, the lot was only half full, but it is an outdoor outlet and only 25 miles to the south is the 3.5 mln sq ft indoor Palisades Mall, or 10 miles to the north, the 1.1 mln sq ft Crystal Run Mall. At Woodbury Outlet, it should be noted that the Coach Outlet (COH) was mobbed. Simply unbelievable... mobbed, with people buying, otherwise many stores we visited were quiet. My son, Ben, simply hated Coach (as one would expect for a 1st grader)... LOL, but my wife will love her new bag.

Wal-Mart.... no line at check-out on the Saturday before Christmas?! That was simply amazing. The Super Wal Mart that we visited in Monroe, NY has always had one of the worst run front ends, so today's easy check-out had to be due to a lack of customer traffic and not better organization. And indeed, the store seemed quieter that usual for the weekend before Christmas. My son and I swung through for some basic food shopping items. We did look around for some unplanned give gift buying opportunities, but didn't find anything; and I think that's part of the big problem that Wal Mart is still failing to overcome. It just can't seem to break out of the mold of serving the basic, no frills needs . I'm actually surprised that Mart CEO Lee Scott has last as long as he has.

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