Too early for retail “panic mode”?

Interesting recent discussion at RetailWire about free shipping and other tactics being used by retailers this season to drive share. The question under discussion: Are retailers panicking already? I say no…

I don’t believe retailers are in “panic mode”…it’s way too early and consumer spending has been modestly healthy this year despite the troubled economy. However, every year becomes a bigger challenge in terms of taking away market share from competitors. With higher commodity costs, apparel retailers are going to have to deal with slimmer margins since consumers seem unwilling to pay higher prices. And with the prevalence of coupon sites and “deals of the day,” most stores — whether bricks or clicks or both — will need to be very creative in order to break through the promotional clutter.

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