A brief reminder of a long-ago heist

Oct. 23, 2011 | by Lisa Biank Fasig

Almost 20 years ago I was the victim of a rather rudimentary form of identify theft. One of my credit card bills had been intercepted at the post office, my account number and name copied, and the bill torn to pieces and thrown away.

As the detective explained to me on the telephone, the thieves were summer interns at the post office who, in collaboration with friends back home, stole credit card numbers, ordered loads of products through catalogs, and then had them shipped to their friends' homes in Pittsburgh and elsewhere.

"What did they charge on my card?" I asked.

Well, the detective asked me, have you made any recent purchases at Victoria's Secret?

My thief had ordered almost $800 worth of underwear from the retailer. Back in 1992, $800 in underwear was real money. I couldn't fathom how many pairs of bloomers and bras she had to purchase to reach such a sum.

I recalled this long-buried incident recently when reading a story about Limited Inc., the parent of Victoria's Secret, and its plans to expand overseas. The gist of the story was that investors are peeved that Limited is not moving faster. But that is not what forced the double take. Instead, it was a few Victoria Secret sales figures that stopped me in my tracks.

One figure: $3,125. That is how much each of two Victoria's Secret beauty and accessories stores in Moscow generate in annual sales—per square foot. But that's nothing. In one Brazilian airport, a 1,000-square-foot Victoria's Secret travel store pulls in $10,000 per square foot, according to the MarketWatch story.

That's a lot of dough for what amounts to handfuls of fabric.

Here in the states, though, Victoria Secret sales are much more modest, with projections of $721 per square foot in 2011, from $663 in 2010. More along the lines of my 1992 credit card heist.

I stopped having credit card bills mailed to me years ago. But having just returned from a trip overseas, I'm going to police my credit card accounts extra diligently.

Topics: Consumer Behavior , Payments

Lisa Biank Fasig / Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.
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