Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

From the market to the vineyard

Lenny Recanati was a financier and banker but became a vintner for love, not money. Winemakers in Israel, like their colleagues across the border in Lebanon, have to contend with conflict as well as nature. The most recent release of Lenny Recanati’s Reserve Merlot 2006 was made from grapes from the Ella Valley near Jerusalem, instead of the Upper Galilee. The conflict in the summer of 2006 kept the vintners out of the vineyards for a month.

Check Out Line: Magic 8 ball says better year for retail


shop1Check out a prediction for increased U.S. retail sales this year.

The National Retail Federation said U.S. retail sales should rise 2.5 percent this year, signaling that stores have made it through the worst of the downturn as improvements in the housing and job markets bolster shoppers’ confidence.

The projected increase would be a step up from a 2.5 percent decline last year and 1.3 percent increase in 2008, NRF said.

Coupon use up 27 pct last year-Inmar


COUPONU.S. consumers’ use of coupons soared 27 percent last year as they sought relief from a tough economy, according to a report released on Monday by Inmar, which tracks coupon use.

In 2009, consumers redeemed about $3.5 billion in coupons.  Shoppers used 3.3 billion coupons for everything from laundry detergent to cereal, about 700,000 more than in 2008. The internet drove much of the growth, as online coupon redemption spiked 360 percent.

Check Out Line: Sam’s Club outsources, sheds 10 percent of jobs


samsCheck out Sam’s Club cutting 11,200 jobs or about 10 percent of its workforce as it outsources in-store product demos and sheds jobs for recruiting new business members to its warehouses.

Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart, will use a third-party company, Shopper Events , rather than its own staff to essentially hand out food samples or demonstrate electronics to passersby, allowing Sam’s Club to let go of about 10,000 mostly part-time workers. (Though they can apply for new jobs with Shopper Events.)

The buzz from Berlin


berlinIt’s Berlin Fashion Week and the catwalk in the big, white tent at the heart of the German capital is buzzing.

The event that started in 2007 is growing steadily despite the global recession, which knocked 8 percent off luxury sales last year. There are 33 designers  showing in Berlin this year, versus 29 last year.

Happy Super Valenbowl!


superbowlTarget spent time talking to Wall Street analysts on Thursday, outlining the multiple ways it will expand its business in the next 10 years.

It will open smaller stores in urban markets. It will add its PFresh food concept into hundreds of stores, boosting customer traffic. It will explore overseas expansion in Canada, Mexico or Latin America.

Check Out Line: Trading the $1 burger for the $3 latte


mcdCheck out profits rising at McDonald’s, the world’s largest hamburger chain.

But while profits rose, the results showed the chain’s U.S. business continued to lag its international operations.  U.S. same-store sales rose 1 percent in December, after two months of declines. Globally, same-store sales rose 2.3 percent for the quarter and 2.7 percent in December.

Check Out Line: Estee Lauder had a beautiful holiday season


Fabrizio FredaCheck out Estee Lauder’s much better-than-expected end to 2009.

The cosmetics maker said fiscal second-quarter results, due next week, will fly past its forecast and Wall Street’s predictions.  Sound familiar?  That’s because the company did the same thing back in October, before it released results for the first quarter of its fiscal year.

Analysts noticed the similarity.  JP Morgan’s John Faucher entitled his research note “Deja Vu” and many said with the stock’s nice run already (up about 56 percent in 2009), big gains from here are likely limited.

Check Out Line: Play on Fenway Park grass … in your yard



Check out where Scotts is staking out new turf.

ScottsMiracle-Gro, the No. 1 U.S. lawn-care company, is taking a swing at winning over baseball fans with its latest sponsorship deal, which allows customers to buy the same grass seed and fertilizer used to grow the lush, green fields at the ballparks of such teams as the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.

Scotts has signed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal with Major League Baseball that includes licensed products, baseball-themed advertising and partnerships with eight of the teams. A source close to the deal who asked not to be identified said Scotts’ annual commitments are in the high seven figures, with overall spending on baseball in the eight figures.

Oops, they (Kohl’s and Britney) did it again


BRITNEYLooks like Kohl’s has not found its partnership with pop starlet Britney Spears and the clothing line she shills to be “Toxic.”

Kohl’s, seen in some circles as dowdy and bland, has been on a campaign to spice things up in recent years, hence Britney’s pitching gig for Candie’s, a line of women’s clothes available only at Kohl’s.