retail

L.L. Bean's outdoor gear — including its signature Bean Boots prized by campers and hipsters alike — is no longer guaranteed for life.

In a letter to customers Friday morning, the company said it has updated its return policy to give customers one year to return purchases, with a receipt. The previous lifetime guarantee, which enabled customers to return products years — or even decades — after purchase, has long been a selling point for the company.

Best Buy has told music suppliers that it will pull all CDs from its stores this summer, according to a report from Billboard. This move should come as no big surprise: Between unlimited streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, and the ongoing vinyl revival, CDs just don't have the sway that they used to.

In a sign of the challenges facing brick-and-mortar retail, Macy’s announced Thursday morning that its downtown Miami store will close.

The downtown Macy’s, at 22 East Flagler Street, is one of 11 stores around the nation that the department store giant said would be getting the ax. The others are in California, Indiana, Idaho, Michigan, Ohio and Vermont. In Florida, the Macy’s story in Oaks Mall in Gainesville will also be closed.

The Florida Retail Federation is forecasting a holiday sales increase of three to three-and-a-half percent in the state, despite the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Irma. 


Celebrators of National Handbag Day got quite a scare this week.

Tuesday's unofficial holiday was over by the time luxury brand Coach announced on Wednesday that it is changing its corporate name. The move is designed to better include the two other brands Coach owns: Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade.

Consumer outrage quickly followed the announcement, but it died down a bit after shoppers realized they could still buy Coach bags — only the corporate name was changing.

It's an understatement to say the holiday shopping season is crucial for retailers. The holiday shopping season is very, very, very (I could go on, but you get the point) important for retailers.

"For some retailers, the holiday season can represent as much as 30 percent of annual sales," the National Retail Federation says. "Overall last year, holiday sales represented nearly 20 percent of total retail industry sales."

The retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, and Toys R Us has been trying to maintain its foothold in the industry amid a heavy debt load and the rise of online shopping.

Late Monday, the largest U.S. toy chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Richmond, Va. The move had been expected.

Hurricane Irma’s record-breaking fury and uncertain track is sending an unprecedented number of Floridians to grocery stores and gas stations, according to the Florida Retail Federation.

Barbie's one-time blue-eyed boyfriend is getting a makeover. Toymaker Mattel is giving its Ken doll a variety of new looks in hopes the makeovers will move the toys into the modern era.

On Tuesday, the company rolled out 15 new Ken dolls with three body types: "slim, broad and original." They have seven skin tones, nine hairstyles — including cornrows and "man buns" — and an array of sartorial styles from business casual to athletic-chic.

There's a good chance something you've bought online has been in the hands of a "picker" first. These are the workers in warehouses who pick, pack and ship all those things we're ordering.

Harry Friedman has run a consultancy training entry-level retail workers in customer service and other basics for 35 years. But in all his years, he has not retrained retail workers for new skills.

"Nope; we do none of it," he says. "I don't know that anybody does any of it."

With unemployment low and economic growth expected to bounce back from a slow first quarter, consumers are not in bad shape. But it has been an especially terrible year so far for retailers.

Nine U.S. chains have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Store closures are accelerating, and almost 90,000 retail workers have lost their jobs since October.

Experts say the industry's troubles are just beginning.

A century ago, it was one of the biggest names in retail. Now, even Sears officials say its future could be in doubt — though they say they have plans to make sure the retail icon survives.

Nancy Koehn with the Harvard Business School says that in its early days, Sears Roebuck and Co. was like Amazon is today — a retailer of great disruption.

For Sears, it meant a path-breaking strategy of offering all sorts of merchandise in catalogs and building department stores in remote places with ample parking.

As you walk into the Goodwill retail store on Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg, signs advertise 50 percent-off items with specific-colored tags. The tag sale started Sunday to try and raise falling profits at 18 local Goodwill stores.

Goodwill Industries Suncoast is nearly $1 million under budget this fiscal year, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The company has frozen employee wages and hiring for a year to lower expenses, and they're working to raise revenue in retail stores using tactics such as the tag sale.

Updated 7 p.m. ET June 29 with this clarification:

Initial reports on June 20, when Costco said it would switch the type of credit card it would accept, said the new cards would not have roadside assistance. But Citi spokeswoman Jennifer Bombardier now tells NPR that the Costco Visa cards "offer a comparable roadside assistance plan."

NerdWallet says overall the new Costco Visa card has better benefits than the old Costco American Express card.

Pages