Economic Trends

Scenes from a mall: kinetic craze

Posted on November 27, 2010. Filed under: Economic Trends, Public Relations, Retail |

Playing the Microsoft X-Box 360 kinetic at the Mall of America

Drawing a crowd: the action at the display for the Microsoft X-Box 360 kinetic system at the Mall of America on Black Friday

People lined up to play at Microsoft’s XBox 360 kinetic demonstration stand at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN on Black Friday. I want one of those things.

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Scenes From A Minnesota Mall On Black Friday

Posted on November 27, 2010. Filed under: Economic Trends, Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Bowling in the digital age with Microsoft X-Box 360 Kinetic at Microsoft Store

Bowling in the digital age - a young man gets set to take the Microsoft X-Box 360 Kinetic game for a trial roll at the Microsoft Store at the Mall of America on Black Friday

I journeyed out to the Mall of America on Friday evening — Black Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving is now called in the U.S. — to see what was happening. By the time I got there, around 8 p.m., the biggest part of the shopping day was over. Parking wasn’t too much of a problem.

To my untrained eye, the Mall seemed to be  much busier than on a normal Friday evening. Not to say that it was crowded, but it was certainly bustling with activity — especially for such an advanced hour in a shopping day that kicked off in the wee hours of the morning for many people. The Mall of America opened at 5 a.m., I believe.

Dueling For Holiday Dollars: Microsoft And Apple Go Nose To Nose

Camera in hand, I nosed around the Mall for an hour and a half or so. I was really interested in checking out the new Microsoft Store — it opened in October, situated directly opposite to the existing Apple store along one of the Mall’s indoor avenues. I wasn’t alone in wanting to see the store. It was a late night hot spot. (See pictures.)

Microsoft Store at the Mall of America on Black Friday

Microsoft Store at the Mall of America on Friday, Nov. 26, 2010

Across the way, the Apple Store was getting its fair share of shoppers as well. Beatle-power  was played  up with the early-days Beatles poster in the window display; the minimalistic white decor of the store certainly plays well to the theme of the Beatles’ most famous work, that of The White Album.

Macy’s Wants To Make You Believe

You’ve got to believe in the holiday season if you’re a retailer, and Macy’s makes that message explicit in its theme for the season. Store traffic seemed relatively muted, but then again, it was nigh on to 9:30 p.m. by the time my path finally led me to the Macy’s neighborhood.

You can believe in the holiday season at Macy's this year

You can believe in the holiday season at Macy's this year

Conclusion: based on purely empirical evidence, I’d say that the consumer society is alive and well in America this holiday season. I don’t know how successful Apple and Microsoft were at converting lookers into customers with their hot new electronic toys, but they sure had plenty of potential prospects crowded into their stores.

I’m interested in the retail market.  I plan to do a few more forays into the field this season. If you’d like to come along — metaphorically speaking – I’d be glad to have you as a blog visitor. And of course if you have any comments, please feel free to comment away. I’m curious to know what you think both about what I’m doing and about the retail business in general this holiday season.

Update Mall traffic was strong throughout the Twin Cities on Black Friday according to this article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press Black Friday Strikes Gold.

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Cash Call On The Holidays

Posted on November 7, 2010. Filed under: Economic Trends, Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Cover of "Surviving Christmas"

Cover of Surviving Christmas

Twin Cities malls are booked up with tenants, and brimming with good feelings about the holiday shopping season, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Sunday, Nov. 7).

Psstt…Don’t Tell The Pickpockets!

USAA, in a very cleverly conceived press release, reports that the new normal still holds true for this holiday season.  Ninety percent of the public plans to use cash when shopping for holiday items, according to USAA’s second annual holiday spending survey. (Let’s hope this news doesn’t get widely circulated among the nation’s pickpockets.)

Cash is the enemy of the plastic industry, of course: and indeed credit card issuers will be feeling the pinch if shoppers remain committed to leave the plastic at home. Only 41% of shoppers plan to use credit cards for their purchases, the survey says.

“The survey findings indicate that adopting better money habits as a result of the Great Recession isn’t a fad, but more of a long-term trend,” said Joseph Montanaro, a financial planner with USAA.

Consumer Sentiments Measured By Movie Relativity

Still 46% of consumers said that the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” is how they feel about their plans for holiday spending. But “Surviving Christmas” is the movie that best matches the budgetary concerns of 28% of families. The National Retail Federation projects a 2.9% increase in retail spending this year; that will mean a total holiday cash haul for retailers in the range of $447 billion, according to the NRF forecast. (By comparison, retailers rang up $435.6 billion in holiday sales in 2005, another year when consumers were coming out of a recessionary shell.)

It doesn’t take much for retailers to wax optimistic, of course. But in Minnesota at least, it looks as if the early November giddiness may be justified. For one thing, the state unemployment rate is just 6.6%, well below the national average. The Mall of America is 100% leased for the first time in 18 years, according to the Pioneer Press article.

Then there’s the Minnesota Vikings factor, a heretofore unreported prediction of increased Twin Cities mall traffic on Sundays if the Vikings’ continue to beat themselves out of playoff contention. Nothing like a little festive holiday shopping to ward off those collapsing football team blues after all.

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Thanks, W (No, Not That One! The Other One!)

Posted on October 16, 2010. Filed under: Economic Trends, Public Relations | Tags: , , , , |

Thanks to this week’s W magazine, I now know why Kim Kardashian is famous.

Love the silver bodysuit, Kim.

Reminds me of a line from a Ruth Rendell novel, Thirteen Steps Down. She describes her main character as pursuing a career in celebrityhood, he having decided that “being a celebrity was the only career worth having today.”

Beats working at Wal-Mart, I guess.

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My Not-So-Magnificent-Obsession With Financial Markets

Posted on October 15, 2010. Filed under: Economic Trends | Tags: , , , , , |

Okay, I admit, I’m a little obsessed over the financial markets. What’s that got to do with marketing and PR? Well, nothing and everything of course, depending on whether the markets crash again – or hold up under the stress of the latest bad news about mortgage frauds, verifications, etc.

Zero Hedge, a recently discovered website, has had some good posts recently in which the authors attempt to explain the significance of the latest upheavals in the mortgage industry. Here’s one such post, Real Danger From Foreclosure Mess.

As the great They’s say, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Or to paraphrase The Who, “Let’s Hope We Don’t Get Fooled Again.”

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