Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

99 Cents? Maybe Not For Long …

September 5, 2008

The latest example of U.S. inflation seems likely to come from 99 Cents Only Stores, the Western retailer that stocks everything from canned beans to cleaning supplies, party favors and fresh vegetables — all for 99 cents or under.
    
On Monday, the City of Commerce, California-based company, with 277 stores in California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada, will announce what it calls “its first change to its price policy since its founding over 25 years ago.” The Los Angeles Times said this was most likely a precursor to price hikes.

99 Cents Only Stores isn’t fessing up just yet, but chances are prices won’t be getting any lower, given the rising price of food staples like milk, eggs and bread that the company sells.
    
The company’s most recent ad announces deals like 99 cent cantaloupes, Hannah Montana notebooks, microwave popcorn and reading glasses.
    
99 Cents Only Stores posted a net loss of $1.51 million in its most recent quarter despite a 4 percent rise in sales from a year-ago net profit of $2.96 million. Profit was hurt by rising operating expenses and higher cost of sales.

“We would like to assure our wonderful customers that they can continue to depend on 99 Cents Only Stores to have the best values on quality merchandise including food and other basic household items,” said Chief Executive Eric Schiffer in a statement.

The big question: If prices rise, what happens to the store’s name?

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