Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Early flu sickens Walgreen’s sales


Check out what happens when the flu season happens early. WALGREEN/

Walgreen gets a hit to its sales in the quarter ended Feb. 28.

Usually, that quarter represents the peak of the flu season. But this year, the percent of flu-related visits to doctors offices fell to 1.8 percent in late February from a record 7.7 percent in late October, Walgreen said, citing CDC data. In 2009, that percentage was 6 percent.

So Walgreen got a boost from flu related sales in the first quarter, but saw pressure on second quarter sales as everyone else got healthy.

Same-store sales fell 0.2 percent in the quarter, Walgreen said. Front end same-store sales decreased 1.6 percent as people bought fewer flu-related items and also continued to be cautious about discretionary spending.

Also in the basket:

Super-sizing the “Last Supper”

Zale shares up on report of talks with Sun Capital

Check Out Line: More quarterly earnings to parse


williams1Check out the latest quarterly earnings to size up.

Williams-Sonoma reported a better-than-expected profit on lower costs and strong holiday sales, and the home goods chain said it sees sales and earnings rising for the year.

The operator of the Pottery Barn, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma chains, which won many shoppers in the  holiday season by offering more lower-priced home decor items, also boosted its quarterly dividend by 8.3 percent.

Check Out Line: More signs of recovery everywhere


BOOZECheck out better retail sales in Canada and big booze makers anticipating improvement worldwide.

Looks like the United States is not the only place where retail sales are perking up or are set to.

Fisher-Price launches iPhone apps and gets on Facebook



Mattel’s Fisher-Price, home to many infant and preschool toy brands, is going digital.

The maker of Little People playsets and Power Wheels toy cars is launching iPhone applications related to its “The Chatter Telephone,” “See ‘n Say” and “Little People Farm” brands.

Black Friday comes early to Home Depot


Home Depot

For Home Depot, Black Friday comes in spring.

As many Americans prepare to spruce up their gardens, the world’s largest home improvement retailer will host “Spring Black Friday” — a weekend of regional door buster deals in March and April.

Like the traditional Black Friday that occurs the day after Thanksgiving to unofficially start the holiday shopping season, the home goods retailer hopes its spring event will jumpstart its busiest selling season.

Check Out Line: The latest bookseller boss shakeup


EARNINGS/Check out the new guy in charge at Barnes & Noble.

On Thursday, Barnes & Noble named William Lynch, the (young) father of its Nook e-reader, as its new chief executive.  Outgoing CEO Stephen Riggio — the chairman and founder’s brother — is sticking around as a vice chairman.

Barnes & Noble appears to be betting that the Nook will be a prime source of future growth.  Lynch, 39, called e-books “key to our future” during a morning conference call.

Metro CEO links chiefs to Bayern’s deadly duo

- Bayern Munich's deadly duo: Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery Bayern Munich’s deadly duo: Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery

Eckhard Cordes likes football. The chief executive of the

world’s third largest retailer Metro likes German Bundesliga

club Bayern Munich, to be more precise. And he likes giving

examples. “I tend to give examples, sometimes silly

examples,” he admitted at the company’s annual news conference

on Wednesday in Duesseldorf, Germany.


So when he was asked to explain a new structure at Metro’s Cash

& Carry business — which some analysts had seen as a demotion

of the unit’s head Frans Muller, who has to give some of his

responsibilities to Joel Saveuse — he made use of his passion.


    “I’m a fan of Bayern Munich,” he began and went on to say

Check Out Line: Summit highlights


Check out some of the latest news from the 2010 Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.

NCBA Forrest RobertsForrest Roberts, CEO of the largest U.S. cattle group, said China represents a potential $100 billion market for beef.  Meanwhile, agricultural analysts expect to see increased wheat competition from the Black Sea region.

Check Out Line: Appetite grows for food deals


thistractorCheck out what we’re hearing from top executives attending our Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago this week.

Kantar Retail Americas Chief Executive Ken Harris, a top industry consultant, said he sees a healthy appetite for strategic acquisitions in the food and grocery space this year as improving credit markets and a recovering U.S. economy tempt buyers.

Check Out Line: Phillips-Van Heusen tries Hilfiger on for size


tommy1Check out apparel company Phillips-Van Heusen’s deal to buy fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger for about $3 billion.

Phillips-Van Heusen, also owner of the Calvin Klein label, is making the cash and stock deal, expected to close in the second quarter, to boost its presence in markets like Europe and Asia. Tommy Hilfiger is currently owned by private equity firm Apax Partners.