It's the Sale of the Millennium -- Well-Stocked Retailers Have New Y2K Worry: Will : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

It's the Sale of the Millennium -- Well-Stocked Retailers Have New Y2K Worry: Will Merchandise Sell?

Computers/Internet News Source: The Washington Post Published: November 25, 1999 Author: Stephanie Stoughton Posted on 11/25/1999 21:15:09 PST by Stand Watch Listen

Here's the original article

Hecht's department stores have stocked thousands of extra evening dresses. Wal-Marts are displaying Millennium Barbies and "Millennium Party Mix" CDs--as well as shelves filled with bottled water, batteries and flashlights.

For more than a year, the nation's retailers have been wringing their hands, trying to predict how consumers will behave in what promises to be a strange holiday shopping season. They have stocked up not only for bigger and more prosperous Christmas crowds but also for record numbers of New Year's Eve revelers and shoppers who fear coming disaster from year 2000 computer glitches.

Now that the planning stage is over, merchants must worry about sales in stores overflowing with extra Christmas toys, year 2000 T-shirts and generators powerful enough to supply electricity to an entire home.

"At this stage, they've done what can be done," said Cathy Hotka, information technology vice president for the National Retail Federation. "All we're doing now is holding our breath and telling customers, 'Please, come shop.' "

And if they do come in the expected numbers, shoppers will see the usual holiday checkout lines grow even longer as all three groups--the Christmas crowd, New Year's partiers and Y2K worriers--collide in the aisles.

So far, consumers have had mixed reactions to what's on the shelves. At Hecht's, they are eagerly buying sweaters and jewelry as gifts, as well as thousands of ball-gown skirts for New Year's Eve parties. They are snapping up millennial picture frames and Waterford champagne flutes.

But by many accounts, the gimmicky year 2000 baseball caps, teddy bears, mugs and key chains will end up on the clearance racks in stores across the country. "Remember that merchandise that came in and had '01/01/00' on it?" asked Nancy Chistolini, a spokeswoman for Hecht's. "That didn't do well. . . . I think people wanted it to be a little bit more serious."

John Konarski, senior vice president for the International Council of Shopping Centers in New York, said the question about year 2000 souvenir stock is: "Will enough of it sell to cover the incredible amount of merchandise out there? I don't think so. I don't think it will ruin anyone, but it may eat into some companies' profit margins."

Some retailers restrained themselves, offering only a small selection of goods bearing the words "Year 2000." Crate & Barrel stores, for instance, decided to carry only a set of four millennium champagne flutes for $19.95 and a set of six glasses for $17.95.

"For our customer, we didn't think they'd go for anything that was too cutesy," said Bette Kahn, a spokeswoman for Crate & Barrel.

Beyond souvenirs, enough people around the country are stocking up on Y2K supplies to account for significant increases in sales of generators, fuel-storage tanks, camping equipment and ammunition, said Kenneth M. Gassman Jr., a retail analyst with the investment firm Davenport & Co. in Richmond.

"All year long, there has been an undercurrent of Y2K demand, mostly from survivalists but some of it from mainstream groups," Gassman said.

The demand has been spotty, however. Officials of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., for example, say that they carefully prepared for increased purchases of Y2K items such as bottled water and batteries but that shoppers don't seem much concerned about the calendar change. "There are a few different categories that have seen some increases," said Les Copeland, a Wal-Mart spokesman. "But overall it's just benign."

Sales of survival items have been most brisk outside major urban areas such as the Washington region, according to industry analysts. Several local merchants said they had expected increased demand for generators after hearing about booming sales of Y2K equipment elsewhere. But few area residents, they said, seem interested.

"I don't see it," said Rick Leary, general manager of Coleman Powersport in Falls Church. "Maybe it's too early. Maybe people are smarter."

Still, many merchants aren't quite ready to pull back.

Food Lion, which operates many grocery stores in rural areas, has said it may see a large spending spree in the last two weeks of the year. It has prepared its stores accordingly, bringing in extra bottled water and canned food that comes in economy boxes.....

-- the walrus (, November 26, 1999


Those pesky herd people!When will they stampede?Or will they just lay down and freeze to death?

-- mike (, November 26, 1999.

According to CNN, consumers are expected to spend $180 billion over the holiday period.

http://www.cnn. com/US/9911/26/

-- Tim (, November 26, 1999.

Looks like the Food Lion expects the herd to move in the last two weeks. I wonder if they are prepared for the stampede??

-- y2k dave (, November 26, 1999.

I've noticed those cheesy, supposed-to-be-funny 01/01/00 things since last Christmas, and watched them sit on the shelves and sit on the shelves, and sit on the shelves some more...

As far as us, I am DONE Christmas shopping! I ordered everything through two catalogs and Shopped for 8 family members and spent a grand total of $138. Got good stuff, too. For our daughter, I went to and had about $30 worth of stuff in the basket (from Santa) and THEIR SERVER WENT DOWN!!! ARG! I spent an HOUR picking those things out and they were lost. I will go back again later. They are offering free shipping until Dec. 1 and a lot of their prices are cheaper than in the store. And there is no way IN HELL I am going in a Toys R Us this time of year. Or a mall. I take it back, though, I am not totally done Christmas shopping....the hubby wants a CB Radio! Also my daughter's birthday is in about a week--all I have for her is a Sailor Moon book and a Pokemon poster. I have not purchased anything for anyone that requires batteries or electronic equipment (with the exception of the hubby's CB radio). For my birthday, my husband got me some new cookware, the kind that does well over a camp stove, and a pressure cooker! (And yes, I liked it all! Any other year, I'm not sure I would have been too thrilled to get a pressure cooker....)

Anyway, my prediction is a lot of those fancy evening gowns are going to stay on the racks. I'm not seeing a lot of people buying all this millenium stuff, and most people I know have no plans for the evening other than watching TV.

-- preparing (, November 26, 1999.

Heard on the Today Show this morning that retailers are having trouble finding workers (since the economy is so good and unemployment is so low). One store manager had started lining up Christmas season workers in June of this year.

So... if the computers which allow one to do the work of many go kafluie and we switch back to manual overrides... where will they find enough Manuels to go manual?

Oh yeah... from all the businesses that will tank. No problem.

-- Linda (, November 26, 1999.

As our local rag headlined on Thanksgiving: "Shoppers await "complete joy" on Friday." Of course, pure propaganda: the paper survives off the ads the retailers place, hands scratching backs, round and round, consuming without end, amen.

-- Spidey (free@last.Amen), November 26, 1999.

Yes, I need an evening gown to wear to work on New Years Eve! I believe my patients on life support will appreciate the effort!!! From what I understand a lot of people will be at work not going to a party.nurse

-- nurse (, November 26, 1999.

the walrus,

Interesting article. Thanks.

Stan Faryna

Read a rational explanation for making Y2K preparations UO

Got 14 days of preps? If not, get started now. Click here.

Click here and check out the TB2000 preparation forum.

-- Stan Faryna (, November 26, 1999.

I'm glad that 01/01/00 stuff didn't sell. They were WAY over-priced for novelty items. The term "future garage-sale crap" comes to mind. I usually boycott such things on principle... until I see them on a table in someone's front yard, marked down from $24.99 to 25 cents!

-- future generations will (, November 26, 1999.

Preparing, thanks for the heads-up. I'm headed for the ToysRUs site.


-- jhollander (, November 26, 1999.

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