Before hitting the mall, savvy shoppers check the paper for articles and ads with information to use. Challenge young consumers to find a must-have item, an attractive deal or a review that influences a gift list decision.
Online shopping resources are part of some reports. See if students can spot stores' web addresses in the print edition or paper's web site.
Recent toy recalls are a reminder that safety is more important than popularity or price. Invite the class to discuss how the paper helps spread product safety news, and perhaps find a coverage example.
Thanksgiving falls before the last week of November this year, meaning the sprint toward December holidays also begins sooner. Retailers pin their annual sales on a successful holiday season, which symbolically opens the day after Thanksgiving – nicknamed Black Friday because that’s when a shopping surge can push struggling shops from being "in the red" to being "in the black." (Financial records show losses in red and profits in black.) Tough economic conditions in many areas could mean steep markdowns in coming weeks if retailers worry about full shelves after Hanukkah (Dec. 4-12), Christmas and Kwanza (Dec. 26-Jan. 1). Two popular chains, Gap and Aéropostale, ordered less merchandise this season because they expect weak fall sales won't pick up significantly. Business also has been slow at Macy's, Nordstrom, Abercrombie & Fitch, Chico's, Ann Taylor, and Limited (Express and Victoria's Secret).
To attract bargain hunters, some chains dangle discounts for early-bird shoppers on Black Friday – or sooner. Wal-Mart chopped prices on 15,000 toys in October. and has held mini-Black Friday sales every weekend of November, with discounts starting at 6 a.m. Toys "R" Us did the same thing each Friday and Saturday this month, starting at 7 a.m. And on Thanksgiving Day, Kmart opens at 7 a.m.
Online buyers get special deals, too. Many Web sites have free shipping for orders of any size placed the Monday after Thanksgiving -- known as Cyber Monday, because consumers return to work from a weekend of mall browsing and buy online. Postage-free sites Monday include Giftcertificates.com, which sells gift cards from hundreds of stores.
Hot toys: Every major toy maker has a new guitar-based video game and every big retailer has put those products on its top 10 toy list.
Expert says: "Retailers are scared out of their minds. With sales down this year for many stores, they're having to do more to catch the attention of customers." -- Michael Bernacchi, professor of marketing, University of Detroit Mercy
Retailer says: "Black Friday will probably be more important this year than in years past. Economic times are unstable." -- Frank Liddiard, general manager, Liddiard Home Furnishings in Tooele, Utah.
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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