These Were the 2013 Holiday Season's 'Not' Sellers

Barnes & Noble Shares Down After Announcement Of $87 Million Quarterly Loss
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The 2013 Christmas season was more ho-hum than bah humbug. The Commerce Department reported on Tuesday that sales at U.S. retailers rose a mere 0.2 percent in December, though that balloons up to 0.7 percent if we back out the auto industry.

That's not great. But it was even worse for those companies whose products were flat-out disappointments. Let's go over four things that did not sell well during the holiday shopping season.

Yoga Pants

One of the retailing world's biggest winners in recent years has been Lululemon Athletica (LULU). The Canadian chain of high-end active-wear for affluent customers has a presence in the ritziest shopping malls.

Well, it seems as if customers are finally starting to flinch at paying $100 for a pair of yoga pants. Lululemon announced on Monday that sales for the holiday quarter will clock in between $513 million to $518 million, well short of its earlier forecast of $535 million to $540 million. Instead of the flat comparable-store sales that Lululemon was originally projecting it experienced negative comps.

It's fair to say that Lululemon has had a challenging year. There was the embarrassing springtime recall of its Luon stretch pants because they were too sheer, and then its longtime CEO stepped down.

The stock chart is starting to look -- in yoga vernacular -- like a downward facing dog.


Barnes & Noble's (BKS) dream of being a major force in e-readers has turned into a nightmare. The company reported that Nook sales plunged during the nine-week holiday season.

It was pretty bad. The actual hardware sales declined 66.7 percent as customers avoided buying new Nooks and accessories. Barnes & Noble didn't put out a new tablet last year, so a decline was inevitable. However, it's hard to bounce back after Nook sales have plummeted by two thirds.

Digital content sales fell by a more modest 27.3 percent -- also terrible news since there are more Nooks out there now than there were a year ago. They're just collecting more dust than before, and that's bad news for the bookseller's once-promising digital ecosystem.

Consumer Electronics

We live in what should be an exciting time for consumer electronics, but things haven't been going according to plan. Pricier items -- things like TVs and PCs -- have been slumping for a couple of years, and now even the smaller gadgetry is starting to suffer.

When it comes to consumer electronics, hhgregg (HGG) isn't the largest player in the niche, but it did send the shares of all of its peers lower last week after offering up an ugly holiday report. It may have experienced gains in appliances and home products, but comps for its consumer electronics fell 19.7 percent.

It gets worse. Computing and wireless products tumbled 24.5 percent for the pivotal holiday shopping period. We may not be as plugged in as you may think.

'Sleep Number' Beds

Mattresses have been quiet winners in the housing market's recovery. After all, if you're going to buy a new home, you're going to need somewhere to sleep. Folks moving out will often toss their old, lumpy mattresses.

Select Comfort (SCSS) is a leader in the high-end bedding market. Its Sleep Number beds offer air-chambered mattresses with adjustable firmness settings. Unfortunately for its shareholders, Select Comfort has warned that holiday sales didn't live up to earlier expectations. It was originally forecasting for quarterly sales at its company-controlled stores to post comps in the mid-single digits. Things may have started out that way, but weakness since Cyber Monday finds Select Comfort now holding out for flat store-level sales.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Lululemon Athletica. The Motley Fool owns shares of Barnes & Noble. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

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Marie Naylor

Cable and mainstream news is no longer accepted for the mediocre and sub par 'entertainment." reality garbage and celeb junk is on its way out. Some audiences are getting smarter. Cable is a waste of time.

Most "news" is a joke and journalism and integrity died 13 years go. Good riddance to tv news and cable. I trust zilch that is now reported by talking heads on cnn and others.

January 16 2014 at 2:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

but the good news was banks earnings are at an all time high. rich people getting richer. yea!

January 16 2014 at 2:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Till wages are at level where people can afford to spend money on extra or newer things. Sales of overpriced merchandise will keep slumping.

January 16 2014 at 12:10 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

obamit economy="benghazi"~"spying"~"benghazi"~"spying"

January 15 2014 at 9:08 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Wireless devices didn't sell because people can't afford the service plans.

January 15 2014 at 8:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Many people are discovering that they don\'t need the latest $500 gadget, because what they have is working for them just fine. Now that most people have upgraded to new flat-screen TV\'s, they will be happy with them for a while.

Sleep Number sounds to many people like a modern continuation of the old water bed. We\'ll see if it has staying power.

January 15 2014 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I agree with simplesins our economy stinks it's just that our media refuses to tell the truth.
Every administration for the last 50 years has been bent on destroying the middle class but
it is going to come back at them and you can see it now.
The middleclass who supports the rich and the poor can hardly pay their rent let alone pants from lululemon.
The jobs that are out there now are nothing more than minimum wage jobs and they cannot support the cost of food, clothing and housing now your going to force them to pay for health insurance.
This administration really has been the worst just look at the debt this country is in. I am old and have enjoyed living the basic middleclass life but these young kids coming up are really going to have a lower standard of living.
What a shame that these millionaire politicians have ruined the American dream

January 15 2014 at 6:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

These are the things that were harmful to the holiday season??? Really. We are overloaded with electronics, we are all plugged in as much as we can be, sleep number beds - whatever, yoga pants !!!!! get real, nooks - I have 200 books on my nook to read, I just don\'t need anymore until I can get some of these read. What a bunch of useless info.

January 15 2014 at 1:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

This is what happens when you allow the middle class to be gutted. While the items mentioned were "high end" items, Christmas traditionally was a time when the middle class over-stepped their usual budgets a bit to get items that were sometimes impractical. Even in general, these were splurge items, treats to themselves for hard work all year. Now the gap has expanded to the uber rich and the poor. The poor can't afford these items in any case, and the finite number of rich only need so many mattresses.or pairs of invisible yoga pants. Until the obliteration of the middle class is eliminated- with the halt of jobs overseas and the suppression of wages here- mid and high range retailers are going to suffer.

January 15 2014 at 12:53 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Neiman Marcus let a kitchen employee bleed in food through an open wristbone. many may have hepatits or AIDS the company is trying to cover it up through corrupt CEO Karen Katz

January 15 2014 at 12:46 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply