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Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Warren Shoulberg, editorial director for HTT, always seems to have something to say about things.
  • Not Fade Away

    Reports of the death of conventional retailing continue to be greatly exaggerated. Yes, the retailing industry is going through a period of change that is unprecedented in the long history of people selling things to other people. It is more dramatic than the creation of the modern department store in the first part of the 20th century, bigger than the emergence of the discounter in the second half of that century and more impactful than the rise of the category killer specialty chains 25 years ago. Those were all major turning points for the business of retail, but they pale ... Read More
  • Have it Their Way

    Every time our little home textiles industry complained about price erosion and the race to the bottom, I usually suggested that people look at the fast food business if they wanted to really put things into context. From the land of McDonald’s, Burger King and their flame-broiled brethren, the Dollar Menus became both the driving force and the dreaded curse of the business. Particularly during the Great Recession aftermath, these bargain-priced deals sustained their businesses and allowed them to maintain their existences in light of enormous price resistance to higher priced choices. Sound familiar? Having created this monster, the ... Read More
  • Sweet..and Sour 16

    What a crazy start to the new retail year, right? Just when you thought you knew who the good guys were — and weren’t — 2016 starts off with a bizarro series of reports and news that seem to put the entire retailing landscape upside down. Consider: • Walmart says it will close hundreds of stores around the world, including a sizeable bunch here in the good old U.S. of A. The Boys from Bentonville open stores, they don’t close them. • JCPenney, of all people, says it had a pretty good Christmas. Granted, it is still recovering from the Johnson ... Read More
  • What’s Really Happening Behind the Wal

    Walmart is closing some stores. There’s an old journalistic rule about “not burying the lead,” which means don’t put the most important piece of information deep into the story but always place it first. So, theoretically I’ve not broken that rule…but in fact I have. The big news is not that Walmart is closing some stores. The big news is that it’s not that big a deal. Earlier this month, The Big W announced it would be closing 269 stores around the world, including 154 in the United States. At first glance, that does sound ... Read More
  • Season of the Living Dead

    After all the tinsel has been disposed of, the sale signs and coupons run through the shredders and the returns delegated to the back rooms of hell, there is one thing that will have come out of the Christmas shopping season of 2015. Any retailer that tries to pin its entire holiday merchandising strategy around price — and price alone — will be doomed to ultimate failure. The amount of promotional pricing activity — driven by the usual desperation compounded by unusually warm weather — reached record insane levels never seen before. Given recent Decembers, that’s a pretty powerful statement onto itself. Consumers ... Read More
  • Flash in the Pan

    As retailing formats go, the Flash Sale model may go down as one of the fastest ones ever to go from brilliant start to flaming finish. Not that this form of retailing is gone. There are still many players in the space, but they are rapidly mutating into other genres, other creatures of merchandising that are six or seven degrees of separation from where they started. The recent cutbacks at One Kings Lane, the pending possible sale of Gilt to Hudson Bay for far less than the company was valued at not too long ago and the general falling off ... Read More
  • Presents of Mine

    Ah, another year has passed and it’s that most wonderful time of the year again. No, not Christmas — my annual holiday shopping list for all the saints and sinners of the home textiles and retailing worlds. After all, we once again had our fair share of both the naughty and nice — with a decided lean toward the former — in this business. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard. After all, folding towels and touching all those chemically induced bedding ensembles — not to mention those 100% polyester sheets — has got to have an effect on your mental well-being. It was yet ... Read More
  • Santa-licious

    Who knew that the answer for all of an in-store retailer’s problems in competing against online was a fat guy in a red suit? Turns out that this season especially, more and more retailers are on to the fact that a real-life, living, breathing Santa Claus in their stores – or out in the mall – is a surefire way to drive traffic into physical stores. For generations big stores have decked the halls for the holiday selling season, trotting out lights and garland and tinsel on their selling floors, in their windows and all over the place. Santa himself was ... Read More
  • Inside the Penalty Big Box

    The home textiles industry is watching its two biggest retailers deal with massive struggles to get their online businesses up to speed, and in their ability to be successful lies the potential future for the entire business. Walmart, the largest seller of home textiles products — hell, the largest seller of just about everything — has made no secret of its inability to compete successfully with Amazon. More than a decade after the company’s top management said it would be as dominant online as it was in-store, the retailer is admitting publicly it has failed and needs to devote massive amounts ... Read More
  • The December Surprise

    Christmas this year is going to be better than anybody expects…maybe much better. There, I’ve said it. The one thing they teach you in opinion-column writing school – I think weathermen take the same class – is never, ever make a forecast that you can be held accountable for. Predict things way out in the future when everyone reading will have long forgotten them…. or be dead. You can’t go wrong that way. But short-term predictions? Do not go anywhere near them. They are nothing but trouble. And while I’ve generally stuck to this adage and tried to ... Read More
  • The Cat is Alive

    If you’ve waited anxiously at the edge of your litter box for the answer to last month’s riddle about Schroedinger’s Cat — would it live or die — I’m here to give you the good news: The cat is alive and well … though it may have used up a couple of its nine lives in the process. In a nod to The Big Bang Theory, this physics theory was used to postulate about the unknowns facing New York Home Fashions Market Week. Would it be good or bad? Would the cat live or die? Well, it turned out ... Read More
  • Schroedinger’s Market

    Fans of “The Big Bang Theory” — and I guess quantum physicists — know the theory of Schroedinger’s Cat well: A cat and a radioactive material that will kill the cat are placed in a sealed box and until that box is opened you really don’t know if the cat is alive or dead. Well, I think that’s the way a lot of people are feeling about the New York textiles market this week. Until we finish up the market and open up the results, we really don’t know if this will have been a good market or ... Read More