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Reader's Choice 2008

You headed to the polls this year and made you voices heard.

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RETAIL’S WORST FOES

1. Consumer uncertainty
2. Credit pinch
3. Gas prices
4. Lackluster product
5. Weak dollar

Retailers certainly had their pick of troubles in 2008 — and we, in fact, did ask them to pick which of those troubles had the biggest impact on business. No. 1 on the list was the general sense of uncertainty that caused consumers to grip their wallets tighter. Trailing that was the dried-up credit markets, the summer’s $4-a-gallon prices at the pump, the lack of must-have shoe styles and the dollar’s weakness against the euro.

HOTTEST DESIGNER: Christian Louboutin

The red-sole king earned the design crown this year, according to 28 percent of FN readers. Among the competitors he bested were Marc Jacobs (last year’s winner and this year’s runner-up, with 20 percent of votes), Miuccia Prada and Manolo Blahnik. While the luxe market as a whole may have suffered, Louboutin’s business thrived. And he fueled the desire among his followers with eye-catching shoes (with sky-high heels) on the fashion runways in New York and Paris.

TOP TRENDS OF 2008

Exotic skins: 18%
Hardware embellishments: 15%
Lace-up shoe-booties: 14%
Citrus colors: 13%
Fringe and tassels: 11%

Consumers were looking for a reason to buy this year, and unusual details, such as exotic skins, leather fringe, zippers and bright colors, saw the most traction at retail, according to survey participants. The corseted bootie was also popular for fall.
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