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Retail Update

Susan Dickenson

Susan Dickenson, Retail Editor, Home Accents Today, @susandickenson

  • Brick is the New Black

    Despite the widely accepted notion that e-commerce is booming and will continue to do so, the strength of brick-and-mortar retail was a popular theme at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show earlier this year. Keynote speaker Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman, U.S. retail and distribution leader for Deloitte LLP, told attendees at the January conference that 90% of U.S. retail sales still happen in a physical store. In his “Brick is the New Black” presentation, Balgit Dail, CEO of JDA Software, said 95% of all retail sales are captured by retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence. Paul and ... Read More
  • The 'just looking' dilemma

    The "I'm just looking" response to the “May I help you?” question has become so automated that many retail customers will mutter it simply upon hearing a “Welcome to our store!” or seeing a sales associate approach. Many times the customer truly does want a few minutes to browse and get used to the store before engaging with anyone. Let too much time elapse before a sales associate offers to be of service, though, and she will leave in a huff. Retail experts are all over the map when it comes to how much time should be allowed to ... Read More
  • Give Millennials some credit

    A recent consumer study found that when it comes to furniture and appliances, Millennials prefer to shop at retailers that offer financing options. It also found that they know more about their financing options than their parents and grandparents. Specifically, the study of more than 2,000 consumers found that 59% of shoppers between 18 and 34 say their choice of retailer is affected by whether that retailer offers financing options, and 32% of that consumer group are aware of second-look financing options (for consumers who are denied financing by a retailer’s primary provider), compared with just 13% of ... Read More
  • The redeeming qualities of smarter, greener gift cards

    For the eighth year in a row, gift cards are the most requested holiday gift item. An October National Retail Federation survey found that 60% of shoppers would rather receive a gift card over items like clothing (52%), electronics (35%) and jewelry (25%). Nationally, gift card use is growing at the rate of 6% a year, which translates into a lot of plastic and PVC – about 75 million pounds worth by some estimates. It also translates into a lot of misplaced and unused cards, especially when it comes to Millennials, who are more than twice as likely as older adults ... Read More
  • 11% drop? Some say ‘no way’

    Were Black Friday weekend sales really as slow as the NRF is reporting? Some are saying no. In case you missed it, the National Retail Federation’s weekend shopping survey found that total spending in stores and online (for the weekend through Sunday) fell to $50.9 billion from $57.4 billion last year, a whopping 11% drop. It also says the average person spent $159.55 online, down 10% from 2013. But not everyone is buying it. In an interview with CNBC's Squawk Box, Gerald Storch, CEO of Storch Advisors and former CEO of Toys R Us, said ... Read More
  • Adobe data shows online prices are lowest on Thanksgiving Day

    Adobe just released the results of a massive online shopping report, considered the most comprehensive compilation of such data in the industry. The data analyzes more than one trillion visits to 4,500 retail websites over the last six years, and the more than $7 out of $10 spent online with the top 500 U.S. retailers that are measured by Adobe Marketing Cloud. Based on this data, Adobe’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping Forecast includes the following predictions: + Online prices will hit rock bottom on Thanksgiving Day with an average discount of 24%, lower than any other day ... Read More
  • Keep it simple, and give them a 'win'

    Pricewaiter is a price negotiation tool that enables an online shopper to make an offer on a product, then negotiate privately with the retailer until both parties agree on a price. At this summer’s Internet Retailer Conference and Expo in Chicago, Pricewaiter COO Andrew Scarbrough and T.J. Gentle, CEO of, gave a joint presentation on the technology, using Gentle’s company as a case study. The two also shared some interesting findings about what turns consumers away, and what persuades them to close the deal especially when it comes to big- ticket items. Gentle said adding ... Read More
  • Williamsburg Inspiration

    In September, I traveled to Williamsburg to learn more about the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's licensing program, the oldest and largest museum-based licensing program in the world. Today the Williamsburg brand includes home accents, furniture, textiles, ceramics, rugs, lighting, tablewares, garden décor and more, from 30 manufacturers. A short list includes Global Views, Capel, Nichols & Stone, C&F Enterprises, Andrea by Sadek, Mottahedeh, Carvers’ Guild, Friedman Brothers, Michaelian Home and World Art Group.   When the licensing program started (about 75 years ago), many of the licensees were making direct reproductions of furniture, crockery, decorative objects and such. Today, most ... Read More
  • 3-D reality hits 'home'

    Several new augmented reality/3-D concepts may make it easier to shop for home furnishings. A company called Vizera Labs has applied smart projection technology and 3-D modeling to upholstery — more specifically, fabric selection. Vizera’s patented technology and tablet interface enables “real-time, in-store upholstery projections on actual furniture.” Shoppers use a tablet to tap-select different fabrics and textures, project those selections on furniture pieces to see how the furniture and fabric combinations work in color and scale, and adjust illumination to view the effects of different lighting. Vizera’s technology is already in use in several U.S. stores ... Read More
  • Furniture funnies

    Need a quick laugh? Check out some of these new commercial gems from Ikea, American Signature and Haverty's.  In this video spot, just out from Ikea, Chief Design Guru Jorgen Eghammer talks about a device "so simple and intuitive, using it feels almost familiar" It's the 2015 Ikea catalog. No wires, no cables, eternal battery life, and 328 high definition pages... Password protection is voice activated: "Excuse me, that's mine." Experience the new... BOOKBOOK: This next spot is from a new campaign by American Signature Inc. and is one of the commercials that resulted from ASI's ... Read More
  • 101-yr-old Hy Goldman in his 73rd year at Capitol Lighting

    Hy Goldman has been working at Capitol Lighting for 73 years. Yes, that's right - 73 years. This week he celebrated his 101st birthday, and now the media is celebrating him. James Lent of the Hanover (N.J.) Eagle reported Hy's story Monday. CBS picked it up Tuesday, and last night it was David Letterman's turn to have some fun (" old he has a 301K") -- the Letterman video clip is posted on Capitol Lighting's Facebook page. As Lent reported, Goldman began working for the company on June 1, 1941 when he was 28. He drives himself ... Read More
  • The ultimate photo bomb

    I just got blown away -- by a silver, bombshell-shaped punch bowl. What makes it really special is that it replicates the British "bombs bursting in air" that exploded above Fort McHenry on a September night in 1814, thus inspiring Francis Scott Key to write "Defense of Fort McHenry," later renamed "Star-Spangled Banner." The silver punch bowl was presented to U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead in 1816 by the citizens of Baltimore, in appreciation for his heroic efforts in defending the fort (and thus, Baltimore harbor) against British bombardment. According to the Smithsonian, "after the battle, a committee of ... Read More