The Retail Meltdown's Best Buys


The country’s ailing retailers are doing everything they can to cut costs and boost sales, but even 70% discounts haven’t done much to get shoppers back in the stores.

Same store sales or, sales numbers from stores that have been open for a year or more, fell 1.8% in the last week of January, according the ICSC-Goldman Sachs chain store sales index. It gets worse: Sales so far for the first quarter of 2009 are 2.4% lower than in the previous year, and the lowest recorded on the index since 1990. 

“Consumers are in deep hibernation,” says Britt Beemer, CEO and founder of America’s Research Group, a consumer research company. “There is no sign that they will wake up this spring or that the retail outlook will pick up anytime soon.”

Retailer Pains, Consumer Gains
As apparel, electronics and even motorcycle retailers are cutting jobs and closing stores, there are good deals out there.

Here is a short list of places where you can get some additional bang for your buck.

Target (Stock Quote: TGT)
The Minneapolis-based retailer announced that it will cut 600 existing jobs and leave 400 open positions unfilled due to six straight months of lagging sales. A company spokesman said that the company is “taking action” to ensure that they can make payroll for more than 30,000 remaining employees.

The Deal: If you want to stock up on $54 quilt sets valued at $199.99 or get a $30 ebony, studded Isaac Mizrahi ponte dress for $9.99, you know where to go.

Home Depot (Stock Quote: HD)
Remember that really tony Home Depot store called Expo? Well, it’s a thing of the past. The company is closing 34 Expo stores, two Design Centers and seven bathroom design shops called HD Bath.

The Deal: Their liquidation sales start on Tuesday, Feb. 3. But beware: Not all liquidation sales are all they’re cracked up to be.

Lane Bryant (Stock Quote: CHRS)
Charming Shoppes, Inc., the parent company of Catherines Plus Sizes, Fashion Bug and Lane Bryant is in trouble. They closed 150 stores in 2008, and announced plans to close as many as 100 more in 2009.

The Deal: Though many consumers hate to see Lane Bryants close, they’ll find comfort in the fact that an embellished halter maxi dress that normally sells for $89.50 is now on sale for $26.85. It will probably be discounted even more in the coming months.

Foot Locker (Stock Quote: FL)
The house that Air Jordan (Stock Quote: NKE) helped to build may be in freefall. Third quarter sales were down 3.5% in 2008 and the company has announced that it will close at least 140 of its worst performing stores in 2009.

The Deal: Foot Locker is all but giving away $49.99 Colorado jackets for $9. Shoes such like Jordan AJF6 still retail for full price at $159.99, but the clock is ticking on this footwear giant.

Williams-Sonoma (Stock Quote: WSM)
The recession may mean that more people are cooking at home, but that doesn’t mean that they’re buying new frying pans from Williams-Sonoma. The company hopes that cutting 1,400 jobs, closing a call center in Camp Hill, Pa., and a distribution facility in Memphis will reduce costs. We’ll see.

The Deal: You have a chance to get a $225 Le Creuset oval skillet at the discounted price of $165.

Harley-Davidson (Stock Quote: HOG)
That chopper you dreamed of as a child may be within your reach. Sales were down 60% in the fourth quarter of 2008, rattling the Milwaukee, Wis., motorcycle manufacturer so much that the company’s consumer financing arm hit the Treasury Department up for a $1 billion dollar bailout.

The Deal: Harley's tough stretch may mean big savings on the $12,999 Dyna Super Glide or the new $7,899 Iron 883 Dark Cycle.




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