Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Starbucks outlines gun policy amid fracas


starbucks33Last month, we wrote a blog about a controversy over Starbucks decision not to ban guns in its cafes.

The fracas started when groups of pistol-packing, open-carry gun rights activists exercised their rights by visiting Northern California restaurants and cafes. Their actions prompted companies like Peet’s Coffee & Tea and California Pizza Kitchen to prohibit firearms in their outlets. But Starbucks, even when pressed by the influential Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has declined to follow suit — a position that has been lauded by gun rights supporters and condemned by people who only want to see the police and military packing heat at Starbucks.

The controversy refuses to go away and Starbucks released a new statement on the issue:

“We recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding the issue of open carry weapons laws. Advocacy groups from both sides of this issue have chosen to use Starbucks as a way to draw attention to their positions. While we deeply respect the views of all our customers, Starbucks long-standing approach to this issue remains unchanged.

Check Out Line: Warehouses of woe?


COSTCO/Check out the warehouse retailers getting clubbed.

Both Costco and Big Lots saw quarterly profit fall short of analysts estimates.

These warehouse club operators are still posting better same-store sales than many other retailers, as consumers seek out bargains during the recession, though rising gasoline prices have helped.

Check Out Line: Better pizza=better sales


Check out Domino’s posting better-than-expected profit at Domino’s Pizza.

Convenience and quick delivery only can take you so far. The same with offering deals on pizza to attract consumers during the recession.

from Summit Notebook:

2010 Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity kicks off


Some of the world's leading names in the hedge funds and private equity industries are visiting the Reuters bureaus in New York, London and Hong Kong this week to discuss the outlook for the sector in a series of exclusives interviews as part of the 2010 Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity Summit.

Private equity is still struggling with the triple problem of raising funds, exiting investments and striking deals -- although the last has become a little easier of late. M&A has picked up and there have been a few single-digit billion LBO deals struck in recent months. Still, volatile markets have been making for an uphill struggle to exit investments, and raising money for new funds is uphill. On top of that, executives are facing the possibility of higher tax and tougher scrutiny on their firms.

Check Out Line: Dillard’s sales way down, but shares way up


MALLCheck out what Dillard’s results beating expectations have done for its stock.

Dillard’s may be one of the worst performing department store chains in terms of monthly sales declines, but investors seemed to be relieved the Little Rock-based chain is turning a profit again.

Bad economy equals tough time for teeth


We all know that people have cut back on shopping, dining out, vacations and other pursuits in the difficult economy. Turns out many are also neglecting their smiles.

dentistMore than 90 percent of dentists surveyed by the Chicago Dental Society said clients are putting off cosmetic procedures, up from 60 percent a year earlier.

Check Out Line: CEO words of wisdom during earnings season


tjmaxxCheck out some interesting quotes from top executives during this week’s earnings extravaganza.

Chief executives and their sidekicks, chief financial officers, had the opportunity to spin poor results, self-flagellate, prognosticate, tout new products and to tell Wall Street why it just doesn’t get it.

Check Out Line: Coke’s actions speak louder than its words


coke1Check out Coke’s about face on its relationships with one of its bottlers.

Coke plans to buy the North American operations of its largest bottler, Coca Cola Enterprises, in a substantially cashless deal that would let it cut costs and be more flexible in its distribution.

The announcement of the deal comes just as Coke rival PepsiCo is about to close its own $7.8 billion purchase of its largest bottlers, Pepsi Bottling Group and PepsiAmericas. It also reverses Coke’s previous stance, spelled out in repeated comments over the past several months, that its current relationship with its bottlers was just fine and it didn’t need to copy Pepsi.

Check Out Line: Strong earnings on aisle 5!


zale1Check out the latest string of strong quarterly earnings.

U.S. jeweler Zale, clothing retailer Chico’s and J.M. Smucker, best known for its peanut butter and jelly, all reported stronger-than-expected profits.

Zale’s savings from store closings and less discounting over the holidays helped offset lower sales and dwindling market share, while Chico’s could thank revived holiday sales due to improved merchandise. J.M. Smucker got a boost from its Folgers coffee business and even raised its full-year outlook.

Mexx CEO lays out turnaround plan; Wall Street listens


groteLiz Claiborne Inc had Thomas Grote, the new CEO of its loss-producing Mexx chain, in New York from Amsterdam on Tuesday to participate in the conference call with analysts following release of its fourth-quarter financial results.

Grote, former president of the Esprit brand, joined Liz Claiborne in October with the express mission to turn around its business in Europe, which Claiborne CEO William McComb said was ”our biggest drag on profitability in 2009″.