Just to add a few comments to the last blog entry, now that stores have reported December comp sales:
1. The winners appear to underline the “barbell effect,” in which consumers are gravitating to the high end or the low end. Nordstrom and TJX had better results than the people in the middle, like Macy’s.
2. Several stores lowered their earnings forecast for the quarter, even if they reported decent December sales. Looking at the amount of seasonal inventory left over in early January in many stores, it’s easy to see why.
3. While early birds, extra hours, overlapping sale offers etc. were more common than ever, the stores that offered a simpler value equation appeared to perform better. (With JCP as the exception, for its own reasons.) Again, the off-pricers fall into this category.