Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Consumer shopping behavior all over the place

July 29, 2010

USA/Check out the mixed picture of consumer buying habits revealed by today’s slew of earnings reports:

Judging from quarterly profit reports this morning, U.S. consumers are cutting back on toothpaste buys, making fewer visits to doctors, dining at IHOP and Applebee’s less often, eating fewer Froot Loops and sipping less Dr. Pepper. But on the other hand, they are shopping more at Radio Shack and buying more make-up from Avon.

On Thursday, Rite Aid said same-store sales fell 1.1 percent in July, with front end sales down. (That was the 14th straight month of declines–talk about a cold streak.) A day earlier CVS’ CEO said a lot of U.S. consumers are paying fewer visits to their doctors and the chain lowered its sales forecast for the year.

Colgate Palmolive also reported weaker than expected sales, so between that news and the drugstore chains results, let’s hope Americans are not neglecting dental hygiene. The parent of Applebee’s and IHOP also reported lower traffic though they said diners are spending more per visit. (Oh, why not go nuts and order some more mozzarella sticks?)

This is just the beginning. Next week we’ll find out how a bunch of other companies, including Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Molson Coors, Whole Foods, Kraft and Polo Ralph Lauren are faring.

Also in the basket:

- Maple Leaf profit falls sharply on swap charge
- Puma scraps 2010 pretax forecast
- Hugo Boss sees 2010 challenging
- Amazon offers $139 wireless Kindle for mass appeal

(Reuters photo)

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