Hemline trends suggest that stock prices will rise

BY Michael Fickes

George Taylor, a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor, came up with a theory called The Hemline Index in 1926. The theory identifies women’s hemlines as a leading economic indicator. Rising hemlines indicate that stock prices will begin to rise in the not-to-distant future. Falling hemlines indicate the falling stock prices and economic decline.

Some of the economists that have looked into the theory claim that it may have merit. Other economists suspect the concept is some sort of fashion promotion. The division of opinion, of course, supports another unrelated theory — that economists have predicted 10 of the last five recessions.

Ignoring economists, BlogHer and Taubman Centers recently asked women what hemline trends (and other style trends) they detected in the current fashion world. The results appear in the 2013 BlogHer-Taubman Style Study, which asked 1,609 female respondents, aged 18 and older about hemlines, the acceptability of wearable technology and where women are most likely to tend toward excess.

What’s up with hemlines?
With the theory of the hemline index in mind, researchers asked respondents to predict where hemlines would go this fall. Would they forecast ankle-dusting maxi skirts and throw the economy (and perhaps a number of men) into deep depression? Would they see hemlines just below the knee — suggesting cautious optimism for the economy? Would they call for hemlines to rise above the knee, foreseeing a “light at the end of the tunnel?” Or would a micro-mini-skirt prediction proclaim “good news ahead?”

And the results are:

  • Expect to see a light at the end of the tunnel with 47% of the respondents forecasting hemlines to rise above the knee.
  • Millennials were four times more likely than Baby Boomers to see “good times ahead,” predicting micro-mini skirts.
  • A contrarian 10% forecast ankle-dusting maxi skirts to be the trend this fall — a prediction so far contradicted by activity on fashion runways.

Do women want to wear technology?
While wearable technology is heating up in the technology world, the survey found that it hasn’t crossed over into the realm of women’s fashion. Of all the types of wearable technology available today, women are most open to wearing fitness trackers — 41% of respondents.

Millennials are more interested than other generations of women in every kind of wearable tech, from glasses to clothing.

In an indication that there may be a widening gateway to wearable tech — would that be good news? — 74% of women now rely solely on their smartphones to tell the time.

Going too far?
Gosh. How many shoes? The survey found that one in eight women has more than 50 pairs of shoes. That totals 100 individual shoes! Forty-three percent own between 20 and 49 pairs of shoes.

One-third of the respondents carry a purse weighting in at six pounds or more. Women in the Northeast are three times more likely to carry a 10+ pound purse than women in the Northwest.

Undercover and under the covers
The survey uncovered some trends that some of us may not want to know about. For instance, 38% of all women wear the number-one undergarment choice, bikini briefs. Millennials, however, have begun to wear a tad more thongs than bikini briefs.

Two-thirds of all women wear “comfy stuff” like flannel or sweats to bed, however, a robust 22%, all the way up in age from Millennials through Boomers, sleep “in the buff.” Bad news for retailers.

Of the 1,609 respondents 821 were members of the BlogHer Visionaries Panel, a diverse panel of more than 4,700 women age 18 and older recruited from the BlogHer community and geographically dispersed throughout the U.S. The remaining 787 respondents were members of the general U.S. population. The margin of error at 99% confidence is 2.34%. All portions of the study were conducted in August 2013.

What is BlogHer?
BlogHer is a cross-platform media network created by women for women in social media. It publishes and syndicates news, information, advice, recommendations and research on women in social medial. The company also hosts conferences for women in social media.

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Walmart announces two new centers dedicated to filling online orders

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Bruno, Calif. — Walmart announced it is opening two new warehouses dedicated to filling online orders, one in Fort Worth, Texas, and one in Bethlehem, Pa., which will be its largest center to date. The new facilities are part of a next-generation fulfillment network that the retailer said will deliver U.S. customer orders faster and at a lower cost.

The Fort Worth center is already open and began shipping orders last week. It is 800,000 sq. ft. The Bethlehem operation will be more than one million sq. ft. It is scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year.

The two facilities are expected to provide more than 600 full-time positions in Pennsylvania and Texas, and would likely add another 600 workers during the holidays and other peak seasons. The Fort Worth facility will be operated by Brentwood, Tenn.-based OHL, a global supply chain management solutions company. The Bethlehem center will be fully operated by Walmart.

"With our dedicated online facilities and 4,100 stores within five miles of two-thirds of the U.S. population, we gain a significant advantage by being positioned in the most important location, close to our customers," said Joel Anderson, president and CEO of "This unique combination allows us to get more products to our customers faster and at a lower cost."

Walmart noted that it expects its online sales will exceed $10 billion globally this year, with growth of 30% in the quarter ended July 31. In addition to the U.S., Walmart’s e-commerce sales come primarily from Brazil, China, and the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the retailer said that more than 10% of its orders are shipped from stores and more than 50% are shipped in less than two days.


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JC’s 5 Star Outlet to close doors


After more than 50 years in business, JC’s 5 Star Outlet/J.C. Penney Outlet will be closing all 15 outlet stores in 14 states.

"Going Out of Business" or "Total Inventory Blowout" sales will start Wednesday in each outlet store, offering consumers $70 million worth of name brand and private label products at significant discounts from the already low outlet prices of 25-75% off comparative retail.

The outlet stores trace their roots to the J.C. Penney’s 1962 purchase of a Milwaukee, Wis., mail order company, the General Merchandise Company. In 1963 the retailer opened its first outlet store in Wauwatosa, Wis. This original store, selling overstocked and discontinued merchandise, was advertised as "Penney’s Catalog Warehouse Outlet, an all-new, revolutionary type of Penney store."

The outlet stores, which had been designated for closure by J.C. Penney, were acquired by SB Acquisitions Oct. 2011.

Glen Gammons, the former head of the J.C. Penney Outlet Store Division, and CEO of JC’s 5 Star Outlet, said closing the outlet stores was a painful decision.

"The closing of the outlets was necessitated by the precipitous decline of sales," Gammons said. "After exploring all the alternatives, we could no longer incur the losses resulting from the continued operation of the outlet stores. We wish to thank all of our associates for their hard work and dedication to the company throughout the years."

JC’s 5 Star Outlet/J.C. Penney Outlet sells a wide range of private-label and national-brand apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family, as well as small electrics, domestics, housewares and other products for the home.

In addition to the inventory liquidation, fixtures and equipment from the stores also will be sold.

JC’s 5 Star Outlet/J.C. Penney Outlet locations:

Decatur Mall, 1801 Beltline Rd. SW, Decatur, Ala.

Arizona Mills Mall, 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe, Ariz.

Ontario Mills Mall, 4410 Mills Circle, Ontario, Calif.

Sawgrass Mills Mall, 12801 West Sunrise Blvd, Sunrise, Fla.

5500 S. Expressway, I-75 at Exit 237, Forest Park, Ga.

Machesney Park Mall, 8702 N. 2nd Street, Machesney Park, Ill.

9495 W. 75th Street, I-35 at 75th St., Overland Park, Kan.

3430 Preston Highway, I-65 at Exit 131B, Louisville, Ky.

Jamestown Mall, 246 Jamestown Mall, Florissant, Mont.

190 East Glendale Avenue, Sparks, Nev.

2361 Park Crescent Drive Rolling Acres Mall, 2442 Romig Road, Akron, Ohio

Fairgrounds Square Mall, 3050 N. 5th Street Highway, Reading, Pa.

Grapevine Mills Mall, 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine, Texas

Liberty Fair Mall, 240 Commonwealth Blvd., Martinsville, Va.


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