Do store visits reveal retail’s winners and losers?

From a recent RetailWire discussion where panelists commented on a WSJ article about what can be learned from store visits:

I enjoyed the article in the Wall Street Journal but — let’s admit it — this kind of anecdotal evidence based on a small sample is not very scientific. I shopped one particular mall in the Milwaukee area on Black Friday and again on Christmas Eve (with other visits in between) and noted last Friday whether department and specialty stores had pockets of inventory. I didn’t see a glut of sweaters anywhere…I saw one specialty apparel chain with too many peacoats…I saw a few stores that took a deeper position on flannel plaid shirts instead of having a more balanced inventory. But to assume that I know who the winners and losers will be is flattering myself. So take those “expert opinions” with a grain of salt until you see what the December comps look like, along with quarter-ending margins and guidance about 1st quarter 2011.

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