All Articles Tagged "shopping"

J. Crew Tricking Women Out Of Their Pants Again: Retailer Introduces Size “000”

July 13th, 2014 - By Toya Sharee
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Admittedly, I have never been the curviest person. But contrary to my friends’ and co-workers’ beliefs I haven’t seen a size XS since I was a freshman in college. But even then I’m not sure if my size was result of my fast metabolism or retailers tricking me into thinking I was a size I really wasn’t.

If for some reason you aren’t familiar with the term, “vanity-sizing” refers to the practice of naming a garment a size that doesn’t exactly match the item’s true cut so that women feel better about making that purchase (and more likely to buy more of it or continue shopping at that same retailer). For example, labeling something a “small” that is actually a “medium”. The practice is popular in areas where sizes aren’t standardized, and The United States is famous for it.

TIME.com is reporting that J. Crew has now taken vanity-sizing to a ridiculous new level by now introducing the size “000”. The size is for women who simply can’t fit an XXS because of their 30.5” bust and 23” waist. Think waspy figures like Keira Knightley or burlesque performer Dita Von Teese who has been squeezing into a corset for years to keep her 22” waist. The retailer has received harsh criticism for forcing women to scrutinize the minute differences of their figures and experience unnecessary “size shame”.

The problem with vanity-sizing for me is that it plays a complete mind game with exactly what size a woman is, which can be extremely frustrating for those trying to lose or gain weight if not just for vanity reasons, but for health reasons. It seems that the heavier the average woman becomes over time, the more the practice of vanity-sizing occurs. According to the 2003 SizeUSA study, the average woman is about 5’4″ and 150 pounds, which is 20 pounds heavier than 40 years ago. Jim Lovejoy, the industry director for the SizeUSA survey recently revealed to Newsweek:

“According to standard size measurements, that average 155 pound woman should be wearing a size 16, but thanks to vanity-sizing, she’s probably buying a size 10 or 12.”

“Most companies aren’t using the standard ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] sizes any more. Sizes have been creeping up a half inch at a time so that women can fit into smaller sizes and feel good about it.”

J. Crew insists the new size has nothing to do with vanity and that the smaller size comes from demands from Asia where women typically tend to be smaller:

“We are simply addressing the demand coming from Asia for smaller sizes than what we had carried.”

“Our sizes typically run big and the Asia market tends to run small.”

I think we should all just buy whatever makes us feel and look good and save the numbers for the register.

Do you shop at J. Crew? Do you think vanity-sizing is dangerous for women’s health and self-esteem?

5 Ways Your Financial Frenemy Will Keep You In Debt

March 6th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From HelloBeautiful 

When you decide to pull-up your big girl panties and take charge of your finances like a grown woman, you may begin to realize that everyone will not be happy with your new frugal lifestyle. Your shopaholic friends will become your new financial frenemies and say things to keep you chained to the door of revolving credit, conspicuous consumption and living beyond your means. But they will never outwardly admit that they want what’s financially worse for you. They are like wolves in sheep’s clothing–they will sugar coat what they have to say the way a true financial enemy would do—with flattery and platitudes.

Discerning between you financial frenemy and financial friend is a cornerstone to developing a healthy financial backbone. But be strong and of good courage when you come across the forked tongue of your financial frenemy. Your wallet and your financial future depend on it.

Here are five things that financial frenemies love to say to appeal to keep your financial situation in critical condition:

1. “You only live once (YOLO)”: It’s true; you only live once, but here is something else to remember: each of your credit card bills, mortgage payments and car notes has their own life cycle OAM (once a month.)

2. “But it is on sale…” If you are desperately trying to adhere to a budget, a financial frenemy will gladly try to throw you off your course to debt-free living by saying, “but it’s on sale” to justify something that is not scheduled in your budget. What your financial frenemy fails to understand is that buying unnecessary items whether for a little or a lot is wasted money if it is not a need.

3. “You work hard, you deserve it.” This statement really kills me. When your financial frenemy starts whispering this yadda-yadda, ask them to be more specific about what “it” really means. Because when it comes to spending money that you do not have on things that you already own, “it” really means the following: less money, more debt, more crap, and more clutter. I doubt that that is something that you work hard for or deserve.

Read more about finances at HelloBeautiful.com 

Hate That Gift? New Store Policies Will Make It Harder To Return Gifts This Year

December 21st, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Every Christmas, there are one or two gifts in the bunch that you will return. But this year, new store policies may make it harder to take back unwanted gifts.

Retailers say they have reason to tighten the rules. Return fraud costs them an estimated $8.76 billion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). And a majority of the losses—$3.4 billion—happen during holiday season. “Based on its 2013 Return Fraud Survey, the NRF estimates that nearly 6 percent of holiday returns this year will be fraudulent, up from 4.6 percent in 2012,” reports CNBC. Throughout the year, 14 percent of returns made without a receipt are fraudulent.

In their battle against fraud most stores (74 percent) ask for a picture ID if you want to return something without a receipt. Also, 12 percent require ID even from customers who have a receipt.

Three major retail chains will now give you less time to return items, reports ConsumerWorld.org. Best Buy, for example,  shortened its holiday return period by a whopping nine days. You now must return Christmas gifts by January 15. “The store had cut its regular return period in half (to 15 from 30 days) for most customers in March. Special orders are no longer refundable,” reports CNBC.

If you are returning major appliances and vacuums at Sears, you have half the time — from 60 days to 30 days. It excludes these items from its extended holiday return period.

While Toys R Us announced an extended holiday return period for most products — until January 25 — it shortened the return period (to 30 from 45 days) on certain electronics purchased on or after November 1.  And the return deadline for cameras, camcorders, digital audio players, video game hardware, DVD players or no-contract cellphones given as Christmas gifts is January 9.

For items bought online, the Consumer World survey found that most retailers will allow you to return them to physical stores, saving you the return shipping charge. Sports Authority was one of the few exceptions; online purchased must be sent it back to the dot-com.

Stores don’t actually have to accept returns. It is a customer service and not required by law unless the merchandise is defective. “In some states, stores are allowed to replace a defective item rather than provide a refund. Some stores have a no-return policy. Others will provide only a store credit,” reports CNBC.

Here are some special policies:

  • Overstock.com will not let you return any TV that’s 37 inches or larger.
  • Amazon has stopped accepting returns on jewelry without all required documentation.
  • Office Max doesn’t issue refunds on any product that it no longer stocks.

Restocking fees have declined, though some stores still charge them–usually around 15 percent—on electronic products when the box is opened and the factory seal has been broken. Some stores have restocking charges on other items. At Macy’s there is a 15 percent restocking fee for furniture and mattresses. Amazon has a 50 percent restocking fee on open DVDs and CDs, and 20 percent for late returns.

For full credit, most stores require that all returned items, unless they’re defective, be in new or like-new condition. They must be returned in the original packaging and contain all accessories and all the paperwork.

See Consumer World’s  detailed list of return policies.

Black Friday Violence Breaks Out During Thanksgiving Shopping Day

November 29th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Black Friday shoppers at a Best Buy in Naples, FL. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Black Friday shoppers at a Best Buy in Naples, FL. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Gunshots, fighting, and thievery broke out last night as over eager shoppers and those looking to take advantage of the Black Friday frenzy caused trouble at retail spots across the country.

From fights in Southern California over people trying to cut the line, to a ghastly slashing in West Virginia over a Wal-Mart parking spot, Black Friday turned grim as news of the incidents poured into news outlets.

Reports were that Black Friday was going to be a bit of a bust this year, with polls and analysts saying that many people were going to save their shopping for another day. But Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart US told the TODAY show that the retailer had a “terrific” night. Still, he acknowledged that customers are “challenged” by things like food stamp cuts and he says the retailer is trying to take that into account. (Watch the clip of Simon speaking to Willie Geist below. He addresses issues of pay and Thanksgiving hours as well.)

Despite this craziness, USA Today says that the Thanksgiving Day opening is keeping the usual Black Friday madness at bay at a lot of retailers. With consumers given more time to get deals, there’s no need for bum rushing store doors or as much pushing and pulling at items in the aisles. Five years ago on Black Friday, a Wal-Mart worker was killed when he was trampled by eager shoppers.

“Overall, the National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 4 percent to $602 billion during the last two months of the year. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession,” the paper says.

Investors are getting a good deal today as well with stocks up on a short trading day. Markets close at 1pm ET.

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Help Out The Little Guy: The Benefits Of Small Business Saturday

November 27th, 2013 - By Tanvier Peart
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According to American Express, Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting the endeavors of small businesses. Founded in 2010 by the credit card giant, Small Business Saturday occurs the Saturday after each Thanksgiving. Small businesses and entrepreneurship  are the cornerstone to our society as even the smallest of dreams can turn into something extraordinary. How many times have we heard stories about a mom and pop shop hitting it big, eventually launching multiple locations and even branching out to franchise opportunities?

Regardless how big or small a business gets, it’s important to support their endeavors as our commerce gives them a chance to succeed. Here are the benefits of Small Business Saturday. Hopefully you will allocate some of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday dollars to the little guy.

How to Create an Olivia Pope Inspired Home – Behind The Scenes of Episode 4 | Home Savvy

October 17th, 2013 - By jade
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Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 9.51.29 AM

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 9.52.01 AM

 

In the latest episode of Home Savvy, our host Patrice J. Williams showed you how to steal the look of Olivia Pope’s scandal apartment and she also showed you a few energy saving tips as well.

 

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Director of Photography, Bryon Summers, adjusting his tripod to the appropriate level to get the perfect shot!

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Patrice is getting ready for her final reveal of products that were selected in the episode.

 

WANT MORE HOME SAVVY? WATCH THESE EPISODES

Bags Between Us: Why Shopping With My Mother Empowers Both Of Us

June 28th, 2013 - By Jade Earle
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“I think this one looks a little better on you. Wait, try on this size first.

My mom refused to let me change back into my yoga pants and loose shirt in the dressing room. I already had four outfits laying on the cushion seat next to the room mirror that I tried on. But, she couldn’t resist asking me to put on a pair of long shorts with a funky pattern.

“These are so corny. I love them on you!”

The echo of our laughs went over the store music. We both sounded like hyenas, cackling away like we were at home. My mom and I have a particularly interesting relationship in the sense that we have one that relies on a woman’s favorite pastime: shopping.

What started out as monthly outings, which my mom dubbed “ladies ‘night,” morphed into a cathartic session that allowed us to speak openly with each other about our insecurities, dreams  and family stories. It’s not like we didn’t have a good relationship when we weren’t shopping, but the activity definitely helps.

Although I never disliked going shopping with my mom — I used to ask for dresses every week at the age of 4 — I didn’t appreciate the trips until I got out of my teens. I was going through the awkward teen years of getting used to my large foot size and managing my fluctuating weight before puberty. There were moments when we went shopping and I didn’t feel like even looking through the shoe racks because I knew I would outgrow them within a year. Mom remained supportive, though, and always told me that I’d appreciate myself as I got older and my bank account became more, ahem, healthy. Her shopping lessons go beyond helping me find the right cut, it’s about repeating the rhetoric of financial independence. Having amazing clothes is an investment just like everything else of quality is, mom says. And when you have investments, you have freedom, independence and options for yourself.

She has told me countless times about what she wishes she did when she was my age, which primarily concerns her not finishing her college education. Her regret comes through, but in an interesting way, I think she’s living through my journey while helping me prepare for what’s next. A pencil skirt that she picks out for me is a cut that she hopes I’ll wear to my first red carpet event. This purple dress, she says, is the first out of many I’ll wear before “your clothes are personally made for you.” Every shopping trip is another opportunity for us to live out both of our dreams — the one I have for myself and the one she has for me.

There have also been a few times when I’ve been able to break her out of her shell. My mom has always been pretty funky when it comes to her style. But, over the years, she has complained about her weight (that she really doesn’t need to lose) and her chest size. “I swear clothes fit you like a hanger,” she says, which is partially true. I’m fairly slim and am able to wear a variety of clothing, unlike my mother who struggled with being overweight in her 20s. Her weight issues were 20 years ago, though her insecurity still lingers.  \

I picked up a gold skirt that was flashy and opulent, everything I love in one item. It hugged me in the right places, but didn’t look as over-the-top as my mom and I thought. “Ya know, I think I’ll get that in my size,” she said. Now, usually if a friend of mine tries to walk out of the store with even the same bracelet as me, I balk. But, I’ve appreciated this influence I’ve had on my mother as I’ve gotten older.

Every shopping trip allows me to see her more and more as the woman that she is. There’s always a moment when you see your parents as humans, particularly when you can relate to their vulnerabilities. That’s what is starting to happen for me. Our relationship isn’t perfect by any means, but nothing comes between us and a 75% off sale.

 

Jade Earle is a freelance writer in New York with a penchant for words and a little bit of time on her hands. She can be found and followed on Twitter @jadeoliviae.

The GUCCI Experiment: Can I Live With The Decision To Purchase $1,200 Handbag?

June 27th, 2013 - By CAP
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This is the first in a three-part series of stories.

via Facebook

via Facebook

The Situation

I am a big fan of Instagram and the one thing I can count on seeing daily is people showing off their latest splurges on designer labels. As I scroll through my timeline and see pictures of Gucci, YSL, Louis Vuitton, Christian Loubutin, Chanel and Tom Ford purchased by non-celebrity types, my accounting education and finance professional experience only leads me to wonder whether these people can really afford the garments and haberdasheries they post online. Like, are their 401Ks being fully funded? Do they have an emergency fund? Are these purchases being made on credit? (I can be a pretty lame shopping partner.)

I am always on top of my personal finances, but I am not above having an insatiable desire for nice things. I have been working in my current job for a couple of years now and live comfortably on a two-person income with my husband. We have no children. There is a saying that I can’t quite recall, but the gist is “the more money you make, the more expensive your taste.”

via Gucci.com

Recently I have been in the market for an everyday purse and the one that caught my eye is the Vintage Gucci Web Boston Bag (pictured right). After laying eyes on it during a brief trip to the Gucci store in Vegas, I have not been able to shake the desire to buy this hunk of beauty. I pull this bag up on my computer about once a week just to look at it and imagine how great it will look on my arm, complementing my self-proclaimed fashionable wardrobe. However, it’s been over six months since I first saw the bag and although I have had the money, I have not been able to talk myself into making such a frivolous purchase.

I have discussed the issue with my husband so many times, he’s just about flat out told be to buy the bag or hush up about it already. The biggest issue that I have with this purchase is, as a fiduciary, or someone who is responsible for the finances of others, how will this impact my image? Will people start to believe I am superficial, knowing I have a $1,200 accessory on my arm that could be lost, stolen, or the victim of a soda spilling accident? Will people really want to allow someone who carries such a bag to be in charge of their finance?

The Motto

In my very own philosophy, I have a concept of FREE money. For a person that has a well designed budget, this is the money carved out to spend on whatever you like, after you have paid your bills and saved. This money is intended to be guilt FREE, hence FREE money and basically you should be able to spend this money on whatever you want without your spouse or significant other giving you the side eye or carrying the weight of any guilt because you have already handled you responsibilities.

The only problem is this Vintage Gucci Web Boston Bag is making it hard for me to follow my own advice.  I have saved up my FREE money and can afford to buy the bag but still haven’t pulled the trigger. I’d like to think I can suppress this desire to become a part of the fancy bag totting club, but my Coach and Dooney and Bourke bags just don’t seem to have the same luster as they did before I saw the V.G.W.B.B.

May Bargains: What To Buy–And Not Buy–This Month

May 10th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Smart shoppers know there there are certain times of year when it’s best to buy various items. According to DealNews.com (via Business Insider), there are a few items in May that you may want to consider buying–and some products to pass on.

Clothes and Household Items: Stock up a lot of things with Memorial Day sales. Add coupons to the promotions can slash your prices even more. “For example, last year Calvin Klein took an extra 85% off sale items,” notes the website. So it is a great time to get apparel and housewares.

Gym Deals: Haggle for a deal on your gym membership. May isn’t particularly a discount month for gyms, but because of the high number of people opting to exercise outside, it is a great time to strike a deal. “ It’s fairly simple to extract a discount on a registration fee (which varies but could cost about $50), but if you get your game face on, you could potentially get a deal on the first few months of enrollment as well,” advises DealNews.

Go TV Shopping: According to the website, Ultra HDTVs debuted last month at prices far lower than expected. Sony debuted its 55″ model for $4,999, but “barely-known Chinese manufacturer Seiki made waves with its 50″ 4K TV for $1,500.” And then Seiki dropped it even further to $1,200. Also in April, 55″ 3D HDTVs also fell, hitting an all-time low of $649 for an off-brand Coby HDTV. For name-brand 55″ 3D TVs, consumers can find deals in the $750 to $799 range.

New Cell… Maybe: There are also things to pass on this month. If you’re not going to snap up an HTC First phone (the Facebook phone ) now from AT&T while it’s 99 cents , you might want to wait. According to ZDNet, the provider is either trying to bring in new business or unload phones that will become obsolete rather quickly. Instead save nearly $1,000 buying the iPhone 5 with T-Mobile. The carrier just switched to a contract-free system. “In fact, if you switch to the iPhone 5 via T-Mobile, you could save at least $360 over a 2-year span compared to AT&T — and potentially as much as $1,000,” notes DealNews.

Don’t Buy Gaming Consoles: “Both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are about to be updated, and even if you don’t want the latest model, the current systems are bound to get cheaper this summer once the next-gen consoles are announced,” notes DealNews.  And rumor has it that Microsoft will knock the price of the current Xbox down to $99. Pass on video game purchases for the kids as well.

Bigger Doesn’t Equal Better: Here Are the Worst Stores For Customer Service

March 12th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Ever go into a store and just hate the customer service? You are not alone. According to a new American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey, some of the country’s largest retailers have the worst customer service while, on the bright side, e-commerce retailers scored high customer satisfaction scores.

Recently, 24/7 Wall St reviewed the ACSI data to find the companies with the worst satisfaction scores in retail. On average, the traditional retail companies peaked at 76.6 on a 100-point scale in 2012. Internet retailers, however, had an average score of 82 last year. Out of the nine top retail companies with the worst ACSI scores, only one was an online retailer.

Here are the worst top three:

1. Walmart. Just because a company is a major chain doesn’t mean good customer service. In fact, it seems that the largest chains have the worst track record when it comes to satisfying customers. The $469.1 billion chain only received a score of 71 in the survey. For the purposes of the survey, Wal-Mart Stores was graded as a department and discount store.

When graded for customer satisfaction as a supermarket, Walmart’s ACSI score was not much better, at just a 72, reports the 24/7 Wall St. This was the worst in that category. Despite having a history of poor customer service, Walmart has not improved over the years. In fact, it has been the lowest-rated department or discount store in the nation every year between 2007 through 2012. And, it has been the lowest-rated supermarket every year since 2005. Even it’s e-commerce division doesn’t fare well. According to ForeSee’s E-Retail Satisfaction Index, Walmart received a grade of 78 on a 100 point scale during the 2012 holiday season, while rival Amazon.com led all e-retailers with a score of 88.

2. Netflix. This is the only e-commerce business that had poor grades. It earned a customer satisfaction score of only 75. The company, which makes $3.61 billion annually, was slightly up from 2011 when it received a score of just 74. Over the years it has been dropping in rank. Things got really bad in 2011 when Netflix enraged customers by increasing prices and announcing plans to separate its DVD rental and streaming platforms. But, writes the website,  after a considerable hit to its image — consumers were outraged at the prospect of having to pay bills for two platforms that would not be coordinated — the company pulled the plug on the service split.

3. Safeway. Despite earning $44.21 billion each year, Safeway hasn’t put much of an effort in improving its customer service. The supermarket chain received a 75 on the customer satisfaction score. Safeway, which is among the nation’s largest retailers., has more than 1,600 stores. “In each of the past 10 years, Safeway has underperformed supermarkets as a whole in the ACSI,” reports 24/7 Wall St. Customers complain often about inaccurate pricing, which led the state of California to sue the company twice. In fact, a court order required Safeway to refund customers $5 or give them the product free-of-charge if they are charged more than the advertised price. Still, according to a report by CBS 5 in San Francisco the company still often overcharged consumers last year.

We wonder if convenience and affordability, at times, trump a retailer’s commitment to customer service. If you can find what you need at the cheapest price at one store, do you care if the sales associate says “please” and “thank you”? (Though that doesn’t explain what’s going on at Safeway.)

Do you shop at any of these stores? What do you think of their customer service?