Tom Keene Talks to Retail Expert Howard Davidowitz

Tom talks with Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consultant Davidowitz & Associates, about holiday shopping, the U.S. consumer, and desperate retailers

How do the various retail segments look this holiday season?
I think the vitamin segment’s very strong. You’ll see some improvement in the home sector. I think online is going to be the best sector. I think extreme value will be great, and the rest of it will be mixed.
What is the angle this year on holiday shopping?
It’s all about price. You have a consumer who’s lost 40 percent of his net worth. Median family income down 10 percent. The future looks lousy with the fiscal cliff. Everyone knows it. Price is the name of the game.
Now the big-box stores are opening on Thanksgiving night. Are they changing the rules on shoppers?
In the retailer’s point of view, it’s pure desperation. They’re going to spend more than they’re going to get, but they’ve got to get market share. They’ve got to get [comparable] store sales to satisfy the analysts. That’s what this is about.
It seems the retailers are going to face a tough holiday season. What’s the impact?
Look, you got a 2 percent GDP growth. We all know that retailing and the consumer are 70 percent of GDP, right? If those numbers are right, we’re in the tank. Where are we going on retail? Nowhere. No job growth. No nothing.

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