U.S. consumers have retreated, and many are not buying anything but what’s necessary leaving retailers to rethink their selling approach as the holidays near. Can exchange traded funds (ETFs) prevail in this tight-fisted climate?
The picture of the U.S. consumer has shifted from one of spendthrift to bargain hound, and this new mindset has retailers up in arms as the holiday season approaches. Even if the economy picks up, some retail veterans think it could be 10 to 15 years before pre-bubble consumption returns, reports Jena McGregor for BusinessWeek.
As the third-quarter earnings season closes and the fourth picks up at the start of the year, the truth will be told about the strategies many retailers have used to pick up sales. Some of these tactics include getting creative about managing inventory, adjusting product lines, and dumping an addiction to promotional pricing. (Are retail figures a holiday harbinger?)
Some of the strategies retailers are employing:
- Creating scarcity: Some stores are holding back up to 60% of their inventory to avoid pileups on shelves. As a result, deep discounting won’t be necessary to move products.
- Kicking the discount: Price cuts have become more of a given in order to keep consumers coming back. Promotions are more specialized and big sales and discounts are becoming less common.
- Simple one-stop shopping: Having the right array of products is critical in a world where gaining market share is critical to growth. Chains are moving into new product areas to appeal to more consumers and make operations more efficient.
- Being contrary: Some retailers have taken to expanding and pushing forward rather than pulling back. The reward for some is higher margins and interaction with daily consumers.
A fresh approach may be all that it takes to get some retailers moving again.
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- iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Goods Index (NYSEArca: IYK): up 20.1% year-to-date
- SPDR S&P Retail (NYSEArca: XRT): up 81.4% year-to-date
- Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLY): up 34.5% year-to-date
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.