Steepest dip in U.S. retail quarterly profits in nine years
After slashing inventory and cutting expenses, the retail industry is still bracing for the largest overall quarterly profit decline in at least nine years when merchants report their first-quarter earnings this week.
Faced with one of the worst consumer spending climates in almost two decades, stores are going to have to find clever ways to attract increasingly thrifty shoppers contending with higher gas and food bills and a slumping housing market.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. launched a new online feature Friday that offers tips from financial expert Ellie Kay on how consumers can stretch their budgets, even beyond the store. Rival Target Corp. aims to add some sizzle to an inexpensive clothing collection by designer Rogan Gregory by selling it first at upscale Barneys New York before shipping it to its own shops for a limited period.
Wal-Mart is launching a website with financial tools to teach consumers how to stay afloat during these hard times.
Given the harsh economic environment, Johnson said retailers need to assume the role of a consumer advocate who can offer advice on how to use the company's merchandise "better and smarter." He called Wal-Mart's launch of its financial tool a smart move.
The site features advice from encouraging customers to buy nutritious but inexpensive meals like soup to stressing the importance of researching their credit scores. The site will also allow customers to share money-saving tips.