Retailers, consumers and prices
Check out the latest encouraging news about U.S. shoppers dusting themselves off and shelling out their hard earned cash again.
U.S. consumers spent more in February than expected, despite buying fewer cars and being stuck at home shoveling record amounts of snow in many parts of the country. The U.S. Commerce Department said on Friday that total retail sales rose 0.3 percent, from necessities to luxury items. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales rose a bigger than expected 0.8 percent in February.
This comes on top of better than expected February sales reported last week at many top U.S. retail chains.
And more improvement is yet to come as U.S. consumers pay off debt and fix their collective balance sheets, freeing up more cash to go shopping, according to a Wall Street Journal report this morning.
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The company — probably best known by consumers for brands such as Butterball — also said its hog unit should improve in the fiscal year that starts this May, after being a drag on results for some time.
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Squarely in the good camp was sporting goods retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, which posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on strong demand for cold weather gear.
Kimberly-Clark, which already launched separate versions of its Depend disposable underwear for incontinence for men and women, is updating the line again in April. This time, it hopes to boost sales with pricier products for consumers who still want to wear real underwear, or at least look like they are doing so.
The new Depend variety packs look more like traditional underwear and are packaged more like the cotton underwear often sold in packages. That way, perhaps shoppers who buy them — with a suggested price of $5.99 to $6.99 for a pack of six — will not feel as embarrassed, Kimberly-Clark asserts.
Check out McDonald’s overseas boost.
February sales at McDonald’s restaurants open at least 13 months rose 4.8 percent, even though such sales rose just 0.6 percent in the United States.
The world’s biggest hamburger chain attributed some of the gain to Chinese New Year celebrations. Same-store sales jumped 10.5 percent in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region.
Check out more signs of improving consumer confidence.
According to a study released this week by Discover Financial Services U.S. consumers were getting more comfortable with their budgets. Also, slightly more consumers now believe they’d have money leftover after paying their bills to have fun with, hinting that consumers won’t be scrimping and saving quite as much.
“After months of cutbacks, we’ve seen two months in a row now in which consumer spending intentions appear to have stabilized,” said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and product management for Discover, in explaining the findings.
There is always something getting in the way of rising sales. In the United States, retailers blamed record-setting snow on the East Coast for curbing a spike in February sales
Check out the return of the shopper. Even at Abercrombie & Fitch.
Several U.S. retailers showed off strong sales gains — albeit over an ugly February 2009 — despite the winter storms that bashed the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and other parts of the United States.
It’s too early to declare a major rebound yet, analysts said, but the sales gains signal that consumers are heading back to stores for more than just the essentials these days.