Economists Hopeful for First Quarter
Economists and retail analysts, working on the assumption that a “fiscal cliff” will be averted in Washington, expect modest growth in retail sales and stable consumer confidence in the first half of 2013. As retailers head out to trade shows and regional marts across the country in the next six months, they face an uncertain economic environment, buffeted by uncertain government policy, a recession in Europe, a slowdown in Asia and a cautious but seemingly more confident consumer.
How it ultimately translates into sales performance, pricing power and hiring is difficult to predict, but with many economists forecasting a period of stable growth in the economy in the first half, merchants could be looking at a slight uptick in business. In the U.S., economists are still predicting moderate sales growth next year despite global financial malaise. “My impression would be that retail sales will grow roughly 4 percent year-over-year in nominal terms,” said John Lonksi, chief economist at Moody’s Capital Markets Group. “It’s not a barn buster, and it is not recessionary.”
IHS Global Insight chief U.S. economist Nigel Gault said ground is being prepared for faster growth. “Credit conditions are gradually easing, while household demand for the traditional drivers of recovery — vehicles and houses — is gaining momentum,” Gault said. “If we can move toward a credible long-term deficit-reduction plan — and at the same time avoid tightening fiscal policy too much, too soon — the combination of a continuing housing recovery with a return of business confidence should see growth accelerate sustainably over the course of 2013 and into 2014.”
HauteLook Co-Founder Launches New Site
HauteLook cofounder Carlota Espinosa is launching a new e-commerce site, Styloot.com, which aims to be the biggest online women’s shopping destination. Featuring clothing, jewelry, accessories and footwear, Styloot offers more than 400,000 items from 4,000-plus brands through deals with more than 100 online retailers — ranging from Net-a-porter to Target, Bloomingdale’s to Banana Republic, and brands ranging from Christian Louboutin and Levi’s to Oscar de la Renta and BCBG Max Azria. The site’s search engine enables users to refine a search by brand, style, color, retailer, price point and type of sale (from 30 percent off to 70 percent off).
Styloot aims to set itself apart from other online retailers with similar search mechanisms with its “Create My Look” tool. Styloot also has a free app for mobile devices and tablets that allows users to take a photo of an item or an entire outfit that they may spy in a store or on the street, and receive a list of similar items, arranged by price point, within 24 hours. There are also the requisite inspiration boards that users can create and share on the site or via Facebook and Pinterest. Each purchase is made on the retailer’s own site, with Styloot earning revenues through percentage points from each transaction.
Puma CEO To Step Down
Puma SE said it plans to recruit a new chief executive officer to help kick start growth at the troubled German activewear firm. Franz Koch is to step down as Puma CEO, and as a member of the group executive committee of PPR, Puma’s reference shareholder, at the end of March 2013. In the interim, Puma said Koch would work closely with PPR group managing director Jean-François Palus “to secure Puma’s ongoing operational transformation and generate profitable growth.”
Once a new management leader is in place, “we will pursue the reorganization of the company, focus on product innovation and marketing, and will continue to devote the necessary resources to the development of the brand,” Palus stated. “I am fully confident in our ability to realize the huge potential of this iconic brand… Together with Jochen Zeitz, Franz Koch has been the driver of strategic key initiatives and has strongly contributed to Puma’s development over the past few years. I would like to warmly thank Franz for his efforts, commitment and dedication to Puma, as well as his contribution to evolving the organization and management team,” he added.
– Taneisha Jordan
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