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Archive for November, 2009

Monday Stocks Fall as Investors Stand Back and Assess

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Dow now at 10,285, down 24 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Reviving worries about the strength of the holiday shopping season sent stocks falling modestly.
The stock market gave up an early advance Monday but also showed signs of stability following Friday’s steep drop. Global markets are rebounding after falling in response to news that Dubai World, the main investment arm of the Persian Gulf city-state, asked to defer payments on $60 billion in debt for six months.
Investors, reassured for the moment that Dubai’s problems weren’t a sign of spreading credit problems, turned their attention to consumers, whose spending is the biggest driver of the U.S. economy. Preliminary figures by ShopperTrak, a research firm that tracks more than 50,000 outlets, showed that sales rose 0.5 percent on Friday, the start to the holiday shopping season. Online sales jumped 11 percent Thursday and Friday, according to comScore, an Internet research firm.
The National Retail Federation trade group said Sunday it still expects holiday sales to slip 1 percent compared with last year.
Retail stocks fell as investors grew worried that consumer spending will still remain too weak to boost the economy.
Investors were initially anxious about the possibility that a debt default by Dubai could touch off a new round of lending problems even as credit markets are still recovering from last year’s near-shutdown following the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
However, it appeared U.S. investors hold little of Dubai’s debt, which has eased some concerns. The United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is located, also said Sunday it will make extra funding available to all banks in the country, including foreign banks with local offices.
Rob Lutts, president and chief investment officer of Cabot Money Management, said that while some investments will be lost in Dubai, the global stock markets have now accounted for those potential losses.
“We’ve seen the impact,” Lutts said, pointing to Friday’s sharp declines. “I think that issue is known now.”
In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 29.09, or 0.3 percent, to 10,280.52. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3.20, or 0.3 percent, to 1,088.29, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 13.73, or 0.6 percent, to 2,124.71.
Investors showed some hesitancy to buy following news that the New York Federal Reserve would carry out small-scale reverse repurchase agreements. The U.S. Federal Reserve could use reverse “repo” agreements, as they’re known, to remove liquidity from the market. Policymakers have flooded the financial system with cash to drive down borrowing costs and prop up the economy.
The New York Fed, which conducts the central bank’s market operations, said the latest move wasn’t a shift in policy but rather a preparation for when the Fed decides to rein in some of its supports for the economy.
Benny Lorenzo, CEO of the investment bank Kaufman Bros. in New York, said the NY Fed’s announcement is a welcome sign that the economy is improving but it also stirs concern that taking away supports for the economy too soon could be harmful.
“The worst thing that could happen in an environment as fragile as this one is for there to be a significant policy mistake,” he said. “It’s a delicate transition.”
The market’s modest moves came after stocks tumbled in holiday-shortened trading Friday on concern about Dubai’s debt problems. The Dow dropped 155 points before closing three hours early for the Thanksgiving holiday. It had fallen much as 233 points in early trading.
The move away from riskier stocks sent the price of safe-haven investments like Treasury bonds higher.
On Monday, bond prices retreated, sending yields higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.23 percent from 3.21 percent late Friday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.06 percent from 0.01 percent.
The dollar pared its losses against other major currencies, while gold rose.
In economic news, the Chicago Purchasing Managers index, which measures Midwestern manufacturing, rose to 56.1 in November from 54.2 in October. New orders rose and employment improved, while production expansion slowed.
Among retailers, Macy’s Inc. slid $1.03, or 6.1 percent, to $15.94, while Target Corp. fell $1.62, or 3.4 percent, to $46.08.
Online retailers advanced. Amazon.com Inc. rose $2.17, or 1.7 percent, to $133.91, while eBay Inc. advanced 76 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $23.98.
Light, sweet crude rose 30 cents to $76.35 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 385.3 million shares.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 2.9 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent, Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 percent and the CAC-40 in France dropped 0.5 percent.


12 Days of Christmas Would Cost $87,000

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Making one’s true love happy will cost a whopping $87,403 this year, a minuscule increase from last year, according to the latest cost analysis of the items in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
That’s the grand total for the single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, purchased repeatedly as the song suggests, according to the annual “Christmas Price Index” compiled by PNC Wealth Management. The price is up a mere $794, or less than 1 percent, from $86,609 last year.
The cost of buying each item just once is increasing this year to $21,466, up 1.8 percent from last year’s $21,081.
Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investment for PNC Wealth Management, which has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984, attributed the modest increase to lower energy costs and fewer wage increases.
It’s the smallest increase since 2002, when the cost actually decreased, according to PNC.
The main driver behind the higher cost is that the price of gold has increased 43 percent, bringing the five gold rings up $150 to $500.
Although wage increases were modest, nine ladies dancing, at $5,473 per performance, is the costliest item, surpassing the that of any of the material goods.
The most expensive goods are the seven swans a-swimming at $5,250, but their cost decreased 6.3 percent from last year’s $5,600. Dunigan said their cost tends to be the most volatile because of supply and demand; they were up 33 percent last year over 2007.
Costs for the 10 lords a-leaping ($4,414 per performance), 11 pipers piping ($2,285 per performance) and 12 drummers drumming ($2,475 per performance) remained the same as last year. Dunigan says that reflects the labor market in which the unemployment rate rose to near 10 percent after sitting below 5 percent for much of the decade.
And for those who would shop online, a word of caution.
PNC says you’ll pay $31,435, which is down from last year’s online price, but still about $10,000 more than in the traditional index.
“In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online,” Dunigan said.
PNC Financial Services Group Inc. checks jewelry stores, dance companies, pet stores and other sources to compile the list. While it is done humorously, PNC said its index mirrors real economic trends.
Besides putting out the list for fun, PNC makes it available to teachers across the country to teach economic trends.
While it’s unlikely anyone would buy the items, Dunigan said one item is likely to please.
“We don’t necessarily suggest picking just one, but it’s hard to believe that gold rings wouldn’t lead the list on a year-to-year basis,” Dunigan said.


From the NRF Sunday: More Black Friday Shoppers Spending Less

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

From the National Retail Federation

Washington, November 29, 2009 –As the closely-watched Black Friday weekend winds down, a National Retail Federation survey conducted over the weekend confirms the expected: more people spent less. According to NRF’s Black Friday shopping survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend*, up from 172 million last year. However, the average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago. Total spending reached an estimated $41.2 billion.

“Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their wallets for a bargain, heading out to take advantage of great deals on less expensive items like toys, small appliances and winter clothes,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “While retailers are encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people coming back through Christmas. Shoppers can continue to expect retailers to focus on low prices and bargains through the end of December.”

Shoppers’ destination of choice over the past weekend seemed to be department stores, with nearly half (49.4%) of holiday shoppers visiting at least one, a 12.9 percent increase from last year. Discount retailers took an uncharacteristic back seat, with 43.2 percent of holiday shoppers heading to discount stores over the weekend and another 7.8 percent heading to outlet stores.** Shoppers also visited electronics stores (29.0%), clothing stores (22.9%), and grocery stores (19.6%). As millions of shoppers gear up for Cyber Monday, one-fourth of Americans shopping over the weekend (28.5%) were shopping online.

“In an economy like this one, every retailer wants to be a discounter,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “Department stores have done an admirable job touting both low prices and good quality, which are important requirements for holiday shoppers on a budget.”

According to the survey, nearly one-third (32.2%) of shoppers purchased toys, an increase of 12.9 percent from last year. Additionally, more people purchased sporting goods (12.6% vs. 11.4% last year), personal care or beauty items (22.4% vs. 19.0%) and gift cards (21.2% vs. 18.7%). The most popular purchases were of clothing (50.9%) and books (40.3%), which remained nearly unchanged over last year.

In order to nab the best holiday items, more shoppers headed out for bargains while it was still dark outside. According to the survey, nearly one-third of shoppers (31.2%) were at the stores by 5 a.m., compared with 23.3 percent who were at stores by that time last year.

“During a more robust economy, people may be inclined to hit the “snooze” button on Black Friday, but high unemployment and a focus on price caused shoppers to visit stores early in anticipation of the best deals,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch.

About the Survey
The survey, conducted Nov. 26-28, 2009 by BIGresearch for NRF, polled 4,985 consumers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4%.

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.

The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry’s key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees – about one in five American workers – and 2007 sales of $4.5 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com


Expect a Big Cyber Monday

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Bloggers,

This today (Sunday) from the National Retail Federation and its researcher, predicting many of us will be shopping Monday … from home.

Rachel Pritchett

Number of Americans to Shop on Cyber Monday Nears 100 Million, According to Shop.org Survey
–While Some Will Shop at Work, Most Will Bargain-Hunt from Home–
Washington, November 29, 2009—As online retailers put the finishing touches on Cyber Monday promotions, the number of people who plan to shop on the Monday after Thanksgiving may surpass even their highest expectations. According to a survey conducted for Shop.org by BIGresearch, 96.5 million Americans plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, up from 85 million in 2008.

“Americans appreciate the convenience of shopping online, which doesn’t require standing in line, circling for a parking spot, or even changing out of your pajamas,” said Scott Silverman, Executive Director of Shop.org. “Online retailers have been working overtime to make sure their Cyber Monday promotions are enticing, so shoppers can expect incredible bargains on popular holiday items, percentages off entire websites, and a lot of free shipping.”

A survey released last week found that nearly nine in ten (87.1%) retailers will have a special promotion for Cyber Monday, up from 83.7 percent last year and 72.2 percent in 2007. The most popular promotions are expected to be specific deals (42.9%), one-day sales (32.9%), and free shipping on all purchases (15.7%). Half of retailers (50.0%) will distribute promotions and deals to shoppers through a special Cyber Monday email.

While some Cyber Monday shoppers will choose to shop from the office, the large majority will shop from living rooms and kitchens all across the country.* According to the survey, 91.5 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers – or 88.2 million Americans – will shop from home on Cyber Monday while 13.5 percent, or 13 million people, will shop from work. (A Shop.org/BIGresearch survey released last week estimated that 69 million Americans would shop from work at some point during the holiday season.)

As Americans embrace the latest technology, 3.8 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers will shop from a mobile device like an iPhone or a Blackberry. In addition, a small fraction of shoppers (1.5%) said they will shop from another location like a coffee shop or a friend’s house.

“As the number of Americans with high-speed internet at home increases, fewer people feel the need to shop online from work,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “While many companies don’t mind employees shopping online over their lunch hours, high unemployment and concerns over job security may cause more people to shop this Cyber Monday from the comforts of their own home.”

While many retailers expect to see sales and traffic spike over lunch hours, Cyber Monday shoppers plan to go online throughout the day. According to the survey, 41.5 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers plan to hit the web early in the morning, with nearly as many (38.0%) planning to shop late morning. In addition, one-third of Cyber Monday shoppers (32.9%) will shop in the early evening or late evening (22.7%).

Shop.org Reveals Retailers Participating in CyberMonday.com Deals of the Hour

Shop.org’s CyberMonday.com, which features holiday promotions and special savings from more than 700 retailers, was created by retailers as a one-stop shop for consumers looking for the best Cyber Monday promotions.

In addition to hundreds of special offers, some of which will be exclusive promotions available only on the site, CyberMonday.com will be featuring a Deal of the Hour on its front page tomorrow, highlighting a different retail promotion every 60 minutes. Retailers participating in the Cyber Monday Deal of the Hour include Sears, Borders, The Home Depot and Red Envelope. (Click here for the full list of companies and times.) Offers will include free shipping specials, dollars off, percentages off, and free gifts with purchase.

In addition, CyberMonday.com will be distributing $250 in gift cards from major retailers each day through Dec. 25 to its fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter .

All CyberMonday.com proceeds received by Shop.org benefit its Ray M. Greenly Scholarship Fund , which helps students pursuing careers in retail. Ray Greenly was a Vice President at Shop.org before passing away from cancer in 2005. More than $900,000 has been raised for the scholarship fund through CyberMonday.com.

About the Surveys

The survey, conducted Nov. 26-28, 2009 by BIGresearch for Shop.org, polled 4,985 consumers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4%.

Cyber Monday, a term coined by Shop.org in 2005, began after retailers noticed a trend of people shopping online on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Today, Cyber Monday is viewed as the ceremonial kickoff to the online holiday shopping season, when shoppers flood websites expecting robust promotions and many retailers highlight some of their most compelling holiday offers.

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.

Shop.org , a division of the National Retail Federation, is the world’s leading membership community for digital retail. Founded in 1996, Shop.org’s 600 members include the 10 largest retailers in the U.S. and more than 60 percent of the Internet Retailer Top 100 E-Retailers. It’s where the best retail minds come together to gain the insight, knowledge and intelligence to make smarter, more informed decisions in the evolving world of the Internet and multichannel retailing. Shop.org programs and activities include benchmarking research, events and networking communities.


Bozeman Accepts Academic Board Appointment

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

SEATTLE — Port of Bremerton Chief Executive Officer Cary Bozeman recently accepted a position on the advisory board of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.
The center is an organization connected with the university’s College of Built Environments, which has programs in design, planning and construction. The center itself offers two graduate programs.
The center’s mission is to develop a leading real-estate program to help advance the industry and assist students attain successful careers.
The center was begun in 2001. More about the center is at www.reuw.washington.edu.
Bozeman’s term is for three years.


Very Early Black Friday Indications Promising

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Bloggers,

Below is wire story saying early indications are that Black Friday shoppers let loose of their wallets a touch, compared to dismal last year. On Sunday, I’ll be participating in a media teleconference with the National Retail Federation, and I’ll let you know more then. They’re crunching the numbers now.

Rachel Pritchett, reporter

Early indicators of Black Friday sales promising
CHICAGO (AP) — Shoppers returned to malls Saturday as observers began reviewing early reports showing just how much consumers spent during their Black Friday shopping sprees.
The weekend’s first definitive spending data for the day after Thanksgiving wasn’t expected until later in the day when the research firm ShopperTrak RTC Corp. reports sales and traffic at more than 50,000 stores.
Friday’s anecdotal reports showed bigger crowds at stores as shoppers appeared to buy more than last year, while even buying some items for themselves such as coats and comforters.
There were fresh signs of strong online sales for the day. Web marketing analyst Coremetrics said its data showed the average amount online shoppers spent on Black Friday rose 35 percent as shoppers spent roughly $170.19 per order — up from $126.04 last year.
The San Mateo, Calif. company also said Web shoppers also bought more items with each purchase.
Both Web-only and traditional marketers beefed up their online discounting for the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.
Executives at J.C. Penney Co. said their day after Thanksgiving business in stores was “strong” nationwide as shoppers snatched up doorbusters.
However, officials at the department store chain, which did not provide specific information about this year’s business compared with last year, also cautioned that one weekend’s performance wasn’t enough to predict how the rest of the holiday season would fare.
While it’s not a surefire predictor of holiday sales, Black Friday is still an important barometer of people’s willingness to spend during the holidays — vital weeks for merchants nationwide.
QVC Inc., which markets products on television and online, said its Black Friday sales totaled $32 million — up almost 60 percent from last year, thanks to its first-ever push to promote its post-Thanksgiving deals.
Many shoppers were still cautious during during Friday’s massive markdowns.
Jude Leeper, 49, of Hanover, Pa., said the influence of the bad economy means she’s still counting her pennies this year.
“I know what they want, but I’ve been looking for a deal to make sure I get a good price,” she said while shopping Friday at Towson Town Center mall in Towson, Md. “I’m going to buy that gift that I know is going to get used, not stuffed in a closet.”


Black Friday Brings Shoppers Out of Hibernation

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

By Rachel Pritchett
rpritchett@kitsapsun.com
SILVERDALE
Someone could have made a pile of money selling parking spaces in Silverdale on Black Friday, as throngs descended on Kitsap County’s retail hub to get to deals first.
The recession was hardly evident at the newly revamped J.C. Penney store at Kitsap Mall as early shoppers queued up 10 deep at a check-out counter. The newly revamped department store flung open its doors at 4 a.m. for its Doorbuster specials.
Nearby Kohl’s was on the same timeline.
“The mall was packed by 5 o’clock this morning,” said mall Marketing Manager Yvonne Tomascak.
Shoppers camped overnight Thursday in lawn chairs and sleeping bags at big-box stores like Silverdale’s Best Buy to take advantage of killer deals on electronics, software and appliances.
The National Retail Federation predicts the season will be a touch merrier for long-struggling retailers. Some 134 million Americans were expected to take advantage of deeply discounted Black Friday specials, up from 128 million last year.
Department and big-box stores were expected to be the destination for 66 percent of shoppers. About 41 percent were expected at electronics stores.
Now in sync with how Black Friday works, still-cautious consumers are carefully plotting every stop.
“Shoppers are prepared. They come in with their coupons, and they are prepared for what they’re looking for,” Tomascak said.
Deals are continuing through the weekend at many locations, and another spike in buying activity is expected to come on Cyber Monday. That’s this Monday, when
87 percent of the nation’s retailers are expected to have online promotions and incentives.
Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday gets bigger every year. The term was coined in 2005 after analysts discovered that, for some reason, the Monday following Black Friday was when consumers turned to online holiday buying.


Armed with Coupons, Shoppers Swarm Silverdale

Friday, November 27th, 2009

By Rachel Pritchett
rpritchett@kitsapsun.com
SILVERDALE
Someone could have made a pile of money selling parking spaces in Silverdale on Black Friday, as throngs descended on Kitsap County’s retail hub to get to deals first.
The recession was hardly evident at the newly revamped JC Penney store at Kitsap Mall as early shoppers queued up 10 deep at a check-out counter. The newly revamped department store flung open its doors at 4 a.m. for its Doorbuster specials. Nearby Kohl’s was on the same timeline.
“The mall was packed by 5 o’clock this morning,” said mall Marketing Manager Yvonne Tomascak.
Shoppers camped overnight Thursday in lawn chairs and sleeping bags at big-box stores like Silverdale’s Best Buy to take advantage of killer deals on electronics, software and appliances.
The National Retail Federation predicts the season will be a touch merrier for long-struggling retailers. Some 134 Americans were expected to take advantage of deeply discounted Black Friday specials, up from 128 million last year.
Some 66 percent of shoppers were expected to hit department and big-box stores. About 41 percent were expected at electronics stores.
Now in sync with how Black Friday works, still-cautious consumers are carefully plotting every stop.
“Shoppers are prepared. They come in with their coupons, and the are prepared for what they’re looking for,” Tomascak said.
Deals are continuing through the weekend at many locations, and another spike in buying activity is expected to come on Cyber Monday. Then, 87 percent of the nation’s retailers are expected to have online promotions and incentives like discounts, free shipping and gifts.
Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday gets bigger every year. The term was coined in 2005 after analysts discovered that, for some reason, the Monday following Black Friday was when consumers turned to online holiday buying.
On Monday, 87 percent of the nation’s retailers will offer online promotions, up from 84 percent last year, says the NRF.


Crazy Black Friday in Silverdale This Morning

Friday, November 27th, 2009

I’m writing about it now. If you were at the mall or surrounding stores, and have an extraordinary story to tell me, call and tell me all about it.

Rachel Pritchett, business writer
475-3783


Friday Stocks Slide on Concerns about Dubai Debt Fallout

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Dow loses 154 points to land at 10,309.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks tumbled as concern swept world markets that financial trouble in the Middle Eastern city-state of Dubai will upend a global economic recovery.
Major stock indexes have fallen from 13-month highs in a shortened trading day Friday on worries about debt problems at Dubai’s primary investment arm.
Investors’ broad retreat from riskier assets pushed Treasury prices higher. The dollar gained against most other major currencies, while commodities stumbled.
The Dow Jones industrials are down 155 at 10,310. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is down 19 at 1,092. The Nasdaq composite index is down 38 at 2,138.
Five stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume totaled 649.8 million shares.