Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Visa Out, Amex in at Macy’s


Check out Macy’s dumping Visa for Amex. mUSA-RETAIL/

The department store chain operator has reached a deal with American Express to switch the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s co-branded credit cards to Amex from Visa. The cards will be issued by Citi.

Macy’s did not say why it made the change. Customers will receive their new card by the end of the year and the cards will have the same credit limits, current balances, historical account information and loyalty program rewards as the current Visa cards.

Retailers count on the store-branded credit card to maintain customer loyalty, while also receiving a font of information in terms of a customers’ purchasing history. They also can account for a big chunk of a retailer’s sales.

But if you are a Macy’s or Bloomie’s card holder, the switch to Amex from Visa could be a bit of a surprise. if any of you are reading this, how do you feel about having the switch made on you?

Shoppers know Kindle better, but more plan to buy iPad-survey


iPADThe e-reader battle will go into overdrive on Saturday, when Apple launches its iPad and takes on Amazon’s market-leading Kindle.

Despite the Kindle’s nearly two-and-a-half year head start, it faces stiff competition from iPad (which is not an e-reader per se but can function as such), according to a survey released on Tuesday by online shopping site, a unit of Experian.

Check Out Line: Irene’s sweet reward


Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld

Check out what the CEO of the world’s largest confectioner earned in 2009.

Kraft Foods’ Irene Rosenfeld’s compensation package rose about 41 percent to $26.3 million last year.

Check Out Line: Best Buy, Apple to sell iPads on Saturday


bestbuyCheck out how the long wait for the iPad is nearing its end.

Best Buy and Apple’s own stores will begin selling the much-hyped iPad tablet computer on Saturday morning.

Apple said on Monday that versions of the device with Wi-Fi wireless Internet capabilities will be available in all 221 U.S. Apple retail stores and most Best Buy stores, for prices ranging from $499 to $699. Models using 3G wireless systems will hit stores in late April.

Forget lights. See your name in jackets, bags, dresses…


For the self-promoting designers out there who have always dreamed of having their own initials printed on fabric, a la Louis Vuitton, Fendi or Coach, Hewlett-Packard has brought you a step closer.

“Anyone could design their own fabric” with HP’s new TouchSmart notebooks and PCs, said Emilio Sosa, an independent designer and contestant on Lifetime television’s reality show ”Project Runway”. Sosa won Thursday night’s episode, in which the designers were challenged to design their own textiles using the computers, and then use it to design an outfit.

Check Out Line: Tasty outlook from Brinker


logo_chilis1Check out the tasty outlook coming from restaurant chain Brinker.

The parent of Chili’s Grill & Bar, On the Border and Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants raised its full-year earnings outlook while also boosting its quarterly dividend payout by 27 percent.

Brinker now expects a 2010 profit of $1.40 to $1.44 a share excluding one-time items. It had previously forecast a range of $1.15 to $1.30. Analysts were expecting $1.39, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Check Out Line: A basket full of profits


Check out today’s earnings-palooza.

Two retailers topped analysts’ expectations after a strong holiday-season showing, while ConAgra Foods was helped by a makeover of its consumer foods segment.

USA-HOLIDAYSALES/Best Buy’s better-than-expected profit was helped by demand for devices such as notebook computers.  The company’s 12 percent revenue jump came even as Walmart and other chains stepped up their electronics push for the holidays.  Of course, this was also the first winter that they didn’t have to compete against the brick and mortar Circuit City stores.

European ruling makes it tougher on Google advertisers


All eyes are on China this week as Google watchers assess its potential risk in that fast-growing market. But across the globe in Europe, the world’s most-used search engine is grappling also with the possible  fallout  from a spat over its advertising model.
The company scored a victory in Europe’s top court on Tuesday over the legitimacy of its Adwords system, with a ruling that found Google does not infringe trademark law by selling to advertisers keywords that trigger paid ads.
The case, in which one plaintiff was luxury brand LVMH, was seen as a major challenge to Google’s business model. LVMH — the purveyors of all things Louis Vuitton –  argued it sought to protect brand holders’ trademarks in the digital age. 
Yet despite the victory, as Reuters pointed out last week, the world’s largest search engine is still not out of the woods. Some warn that Google could see its ad revenue slide if advertisers pull out of Adwords, concerned they could be found liable in future for trademark violations. 
That’s because brand owners can now take up claims against advertisers who use their trademarks to confuse consumers, according to the court, which said Google  too may be liable if the company actively manipulates keywords or fails to act on legitimate complaints.

“Google’s legal victory may prove to be a little hollow,” wrote Eric Goldman, an associate professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law in a blog this week. “It could still see revenue contraction if advertisers are dissuaded by their legal exposure.”
Will advertisers, who depend on the exposure from Google’s powerful search engine, balk? Goldman points out that trademark owners still have an arsenal of legal options to throw at advertisers, from legislative changes to going after advertisers one by one. 

New Gatorade is not for couch potatoes


massimoPepsiCo’s move to launch higher-end Gatorade products at GNC stores across the nation gives the brand higher profit margins and instant credibility as a sports nutrition brand, according to a high-level Pepsi executive.

The sports drink’s historic Gatorade brand was overhauled last year into simply “G” and then expanded with the ”G Series,” which is meant for before, during and after a work-out. Earlier this week, the company unveiled the “G Series Pro” line, aimed at serious athletes.   

Check Out Line: General Mills’ new Cheerios a hit, but private label bites


CheeriosCheck out the power of new products to get shoppers going.

General Mills reported some pretty good results for its third quarter as shoppers gobbled up its new chocolate Cheerios cereal and the company got a boost from lower commodity costs.

But the sailing wasn’t entirely smooth. Sure, General Mills boosted advertising and media spending by 33 percent.  Despite that effort to raise consumer awareness and its choco Cheerios hit, overall sales volume was flat.