Make us your home page
Instagram

Christmas comes earlier this year for Sears and Toys "R" Us

As soon as the fireworks smoke cleared from Independence Day events, some retailers hopped on the Christmas holidays bandwagon.

This week Sears opened a "Christmas Lane" section on sears.com and kmart.com that features trim-a-tree decorations. Hundreds of Sears stores, including those in the Tampa Bay area, started building their holiday departments earlier than ever with a collection of plastic snow-covered holiday villages for home displays.

Meanwhile, Toys "R" Us next week kicks off the season with Santa-and-palm tree-bedecked ads promoting a Christmas-in-July sale that runs July 19 through 25 and features seasonal in-store games and events for kids.

Tepid sales and shoppers who turned more Scrooge-like in June means the few retailers like HSN that often staged summer Christmas sales have more company this year. And Sears, which usually sets out the holiday decorations the day after Labor Day, moved the season up as an early-bird message that the chain offers layaway to the credit-poor.

"Everybody needs a little Christmas at this very minute," explained Jennifer Albano, a spokeswoman for Toys "R" Us, which has never done a Christmas sale event this early.

June sales that came in even weaker than expected weighed in the decisions to pull the trigger. Nationally, sales in stores open more than a year dropped 5.1 percent in 32 chains, excluding Wal-Mart, according to the retailing index compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs.

"Beneath the surface, there were some signs of improvement with a handful of teen and value retailers posting surprisingly healthy gains," said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist for ICSC. "These nascent signs of improvement are important, since history suggests consumer spending typically starts off sluggish prior to significant improvement."

Indeed, a survey released this week by Accenture found a few more shoppers not waiting for a sale price to buy (57 percent this year vs. 62 percent a year ago) and fewer trading down to less-expensive apparel (27 percent to 29 percent).

However, shoppers remain price conscious. The survey found 52 percent thinking their personal situation has gotten worse and 48 percent "believe it will be up to three years" before they can spend freely again.

The bottom line: Retailers that already cut their inventory to meet slack demand face trimming prices on what's left when the back-to-school season gets serious in about two weeks. This time Florida retailers will not have the benefit of a state sales tax holiday to stimulate sales.

"Back-to-school season is going to very modest this time," said Chris Donnelly, a partner in the Accenture retail consulting practice. "On the one hand, kids keep growing so parents have to buy. But they likely will buy less or trade down."

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Christmas comes earlier this year for Sears and Toys "R" Us 07/10/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 10, 2009 9:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  3. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags

    Autos

    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]