Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Polo earnings nothing to sneeze at

August 4, 2010

Check out consumer priorities. RESULTS-RALPHLAUREN/

U.S. shoppers may be buying fewer items at the drug store, but that’s not the case at clothing outlet stores.

Drugstore chain operator Walgreen Co posted weaker-than-expected sales for July, hurt by sales of less-expensive generic drugs and as people spent less than-expected on non-prescription items.

Polo Ralph Lauren, meanwhile, posted better-than-expected earnings. Its wholesale and Asian business helped.  But so did sales at outlet stores, which rose 8 percent on a same-store basis.

Data still show the U.S. consumer is skittish about spending. Same-store sales, on average, are expected to rise 3.1 percent in July when major retailers (but not uber-major Wal-Mart) report later Wednesday and on Thursday. But that’s compared with a 5.1 percent decline a year earlier.

Retail is still not firing on all cylinders, but at least store owners are not crying anymore. That may mean they have to buy fewer tissues at Walgreens . Or, maybe they’re ready to replace the Polo shirts they ripped in anguish last year.

Also in the basket:

Barnes & Noble considers selling

Whole Foods stock falls on sales growth fears

A coffee conundrum at Green Mountain (N.Y.Times)

(Reuters photo)

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