Make-up and marketplaces are tops for beauty and apparel shoppers.

In March, eBay came out on top for traffic to beauty and apparel retail sites while Mary Kay was No. 1 for time spent, Nielsen Online reports.

eBay was the traffic winner despite posting a 44% traffic decline. 6.5 million shoppers visited eBay Clothing, Shoes and Accessories last month, Zappos was second in line with 5.2 million visitors, a 55% increase from a year earlier.

Visitors to Mary Kay spent on average a whopping 2 hours and 23 minutes on the make-up site—far longer than Avon, which ranked No. 2 with nearly 50 minutes.

The top 10 online apparel and beauty shopping destinations in March with unique visitors in millions this year compared to a year earlier and the percent change, according to Nielsen Online were:

* eBay Clothing Shoes & Accessories, 6.57,11.64, -44%
* Zappos.com, 5.23, 3.38, 55%
* Victoria`s Secret, 4.89, 4.20, 16%
* Avon 3.94, 4.20, -6%
* Lands’ End, 3.88, 3.47, 12%
* The Gap, 3.81, 2.38, 60%
* Old Navy, 3.54, 3.36, 5%
* eBay Jewelry and Watches, 2.72, 4.81, -44%
* L.L. Bean, 2.48, 2.70, -8%
* Shoebuy.com, 2.25, 1.94, 16%

Unique visitors count only once each shopper who came to a site, no matter how many times the shopper visited. This is a custom list compiled by Internet Retailer of the top e-commerce sites in this category based on Nielsen Online data. Rankings may contain multiple web sites from the same retailer or manufacturer.

By length of visit, the top 10 apparel and beauty sites in March (hours:minutes:seconds), according to Nielsen Online, were:

* Mary Kay, 2:23:10
* Avon, 0:49:58
* Lane Bryant, 0:30:17
* Woman Within, 0:18:49
* Blair.com, 0:18:25
* OneStopPlus.com, 0:16:30
* Victoria’s Secret, 0:16:24
* Sierra Trading Post, 0:15:11
* DavidsBridal.com, 0:14:45
* eBay Clothing Shoes and Accessories, 0:14:04

The top eight consumer goods industry segments in terms of online ad impressions (in millions) in March, according to Nielsen data, were:

* Food & Beverage, 3,490.70
* Personal Care, 3,354.67
* Print Publishing, 1,159.02
* Home & Garden, 985.01
* Apparel & Jewelry, 685.80
* Automotive Supply, 417.50
* Toy & Hobby, 150.57
* Recreational Gear, 146.14

Omega Opens Flagship Store In Chongqing

Omega’s first flagship store in Chongqing recently opened at the Metropolitan Plaza in the municipality. Mai Yanshan, retail operation manager of Omega China region, and Olympic champion Tian Liang attended the opening ceremony.

Mai Yanshan told local media that Omega had entered China 113 years ago and was quite successful in this market. He said that the opening of the flagship store in Chongqing proved Omega’s confidence in the China market. In 2008, Omega will continue to increase its investment in China, promote a flagship store strategy, sponsor and support big sport events and improve the relationship with Chinese customers.

The Omega flagship store at Metro Politan Plaza, Chongqing covers an area of 100 square meters and follows Omega’s global unified decor concept. At the Metropolitan Plaza store, customers can find a complete range of watches and a selection of Omega jewelry products. In addition, there is a repair service center that offers professional customer service.

Lord & Taylor seen as close to acquiring Fortunoff

Lord & Taylor, the venerable New York City retailer, is in talks aimed at acquiring Fortunoff, a Long Island institution that has been struggling in the last few years, a source close to the matter said yesterday.

The talks had been ongoing for some time, but broke off about two weeks ago and have since resumed, the source said.

“Lord & Taylor got up and left the table two weeks ago,” the source said. “But they’ve come back to the table, maybe thinking they’re going to get a better price” for Fortunoff, which is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to a report this week in Home Furnishings News.

Lord & Taylor is “close to buying” Fortunoff, the New York Times reported yesterday. The furniture, housewares and jewelry retailer has had its flagship store in Westbury since 1964. It dates its beginnings to a small set of stores on Livonia Avenue in Brooklyn in 1922.

Founded in Manhattan, Lord & Taylor is 182 years old and is now owned by NRDC Equity Partners, an aggressive investment firm. The Times said the deal would be worth about $100 million.

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group in Port Washington, said a Lord & Taylor-Fortunoff combination would make sense. “The deal would be complementary to both,” he said, “Lord & Taylor has been able to differentiate themselves, which is something they would be able to pass along to Fortunoff.” Cohen said he thinks there is a “high probability” the deal will happen.

“Lord & Taylor is now sitting down at a warm table,” a source told Newsday yesterday. “They’ve been there before. Their return suggests a strategy that they want to acquire a legendary brand name at a cheaper number. But do they need an economic model that makes sense for them? Of course they do.”

In a statement Wednesday, Fortunoff said it “has been and is continuing to work with its financial advisers to consider the complete range of strategic alternatives for the company. Our stores are fully staffed and open for business as usual.”

Trimaran Capital Partners, the Manhattan-based investment company that took control of Fortunoff in 2004 from the Fortunoff family, did not return phone calls. A call left at Lord & Taylor was also not returned.

Source : By JAMES BERNSTEIN | james.bernstein@newsday.com

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