Forbes ranks Houston first, Dallas second in shopping made a big deal about shopping – like everything else – being bigger in Texas with the release of its 25 Best Shopping Cities in the U.S. list this week.

I suppose it's great for its readers outside of Texas to learn that there's first-class shopping in the Lone Star state, but Forbes' rankings have some locals scratching their heads.

The list names Houston as No. 1, not only in Texas, but in all of the U.S.

Dallas ranked No. 2, with Baltimore, Columbus, Ohio , and Indianapolis filling out the top five.

New York, which many consider the ultimate shopping destination, is ranked way down the list as No. 22.

Forbes notes that Houston's shopping is dominated by the Galleria. It says that having a lot of Walmarts was another factor in deciding the rankings.

Dallas-Fort Worth has more Walmart stores than Houston, and we, too, have a great Galleria mall, and NorthPark Center, and Highland Park Village, neighborhood haunts with one-of-a-kind specialty stores ... should I keep going?

Houston's shopping blogs are full of comments about the fact that the long-awaited debut of fast-fashion retailer H&M in Texas will be in Dallas and not in Houston.

When a chain enters the Texas market for the first time, it usually lands in Dallas. American Girl picked Dallas for its only Texas store in 2005. Nordstrom came to Dallas first in the 1990s. Barneys New York's largest Texas store is in Dallas.

Forbes says Houston has 54 shopping centers and Dallas has 28. Ian Pierce, a spokesman for The Weitzman Group, a commercial real estate firm specializing in retail properties, doubts those numbers.

"I was kind of surprised they didn't mention NorthPark – not too many malls like that around!" Pierce said in an e-mail.

Oh well, we can agree that the rivalry between Texas' two largest metro areas has been kicked up a notch by the Forbes list, which was produced for the first time this year. And let's agree that both cities have amazing shopping.

Touch-screen gloves

Several manufacturers have responded to the proliferation of smart phones and tablets by inventing new gloves. Glove-makers have designed special tips to make screen navigation possible.

The new category is turning out to be a missed opportunity for manufacturers and retailers. Who knew they'd be flying off the shelves? Your best bet is to purchase them online. recently wrote about gloves for touch-screen gadgets made by Freehands, The North Face and others.

Bob Willingham, manager and owner of Mountain Hideout at 5643 Lovers Lane, said his shipment of 40 pairs of North Face Etips were gone within three days. "I tried to get more. They went fast once people knew we had them," Willingham said.

For the sports apparel business, these gloves are "as hot as Elmo was in toys," said St. Bernard Sports vice president of operations Laura Tschoerner.

Airline gift cards

Everyone sells gift cards these days. But to be honest, I didn't know airlines sold gift cards until recently.

With two of the largest airlines based here, I thought I would look into it. "They are popular this time of year," said American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith.

Well, I can't say I know anyone who has given one or received one.

Airline gift cards don't crack the top 10 most popular cards given this time of year, according to the National Retailer Federation. In its annual gift card survey, shoppers said restaurant cards were the most popular, with 31 percent saying they purchased one to give as a gift. Department stores (29.3 percent), bookstores (14.7 percent) and electronics stores (13.6 percent) are the next most popular.

The average amount of a gift card last year was about $40. Not exactly travel money.


If you haven't been to the mall in a while, you may need to download FastMall, a free smart phone application that gives you directions inside a mall.

It even guarantees the fastest route.

Instead of streets, it lists stores along the route to tell you when to keep going, turn left or right. When you get there, the little yellow figure representing you jumps up and down.

You also can find the nearest bathroom and sync your status on Facebook and Twitter. Smart phones are changing the way we shop. Read Sunday's Business section to learn how to shop with an iPhone , Android or Blackberry.


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