Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Holiday sales seen slightly higher


wrapping paper1Check out Deloitte’s forecast for modest Holiday 2010 sales.

The accounting firm expects U.S. retail sales to rise 2 percent this holiday season, as ongoing weakness in the housing and job markets keeps a tight lid on consumers’ discretionary budgets.

Deloitte expects total holiday sales to reach $852 billion, a 2 percent increase in retail sales from November through January, excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, over last season. By Deloitte’s measure, retail sales rose 1 percent last year.

One bright spot this year should be e-commerce, Deloitte said, forecasting a 15 percent increase in “non-store sales” which include sales from online, catalogs and interactive TV.

“The convenience  and functionality that have fueled e-commerce gains in previous seasons will continue to draw consumers online to do their shopping this year,” said Alison Paul, Deloitte’s retail sector leader in the United States. ” Online activity may also influence in-store shopping this holiday season, as social networks and mobile applications are playing a more prominent role in the shopping process. ”

Check Out Line: PepsiCo offers up to $5 million for amateur Super Bowl ads


Check out how you can earn $1 million by wearing an electric dog collar.

Okay, not exactly. That was the punch line of a successful amateur ad this year created for PepsiCo’s Super Bowl commercial contest, which the food and beverage company is running again for the 2011 Super Bowl with a prize pool of up to $5 million.

Makers of the best ads for zero-calorie Pepsi Max soda and Doritos chips can win $1 million for an ad that scores No. 1 on a USA Today ad poll, $600,000 for No. 2 and $400,000 for the third spot. A sweep of all three spots earns a $1 million bonus for each winner.

Check Out Line: Have a flu shot, spend some more


flushot1Check out the impact of signs the U.S. flu season may be weaker this year.

Drug stores such as Walgreen, CVS and Rite Aid are offering flu shots earlier and more conveniently to keep sales from slumping with no expected H1N1 outbreak this year along the lines of last year.

Last year, consumers came for flu shots and bought other items as well, but those related sales could suffer this year. Walgreen, for example, said lower demand for flu-related prescriptions cut 0.3 percentage point from its same-store sales growth in August.

Check Out Line: Grocery shoppers making their lists, checking them twice


PHILIPPINES-ECONOMY/CONSUMPTIONCheck out consumers’ discipline when shopping for groceries.

Most U.S. households have already made the majority of their purchasing decisions before they even enter a grocery store, and rarely buy on impulse, said market research firm NPD Group.

According to a new NPD report, 94 percent of households prepare a written shopping list before they go shopping, and 72 percent of shoppers never, or only occasionally, buy items not on the list.

Check Out Line: Mixed ruling in eBay vs Craigslist case


Check out the latest twist in the eBay – Craigslist saga.


A judge reinstated eBay’s 28.4 percent stake in Craigslist, but allowed the classifieds site to keep eBay off its board.

The mixed ruling meant no clear victory for either of the companies, whose relationship turned from cozy to competitive and ended up in court in 2008.

Check Out Line: Toys R Us says more is merrier this Xmas


Toys R Us pop-up store Check out the latest attempt by a U.S. retailer to win shoppers ahead of the key holiday shopping season.

Toys R Us is planning to open about 600 pop-up stores in malls and shopping centers around the United States this Christmas season. That is more than six times what the world’s largest dedicated toy retailer opened last year. Many of those nearly 90 Toys R Us Express locations have remained open through 2010.

Check Out Line: Mixed financial bag at Talbots


talbots1Check out the mixed results at women’s clothing retailer Talbots.

The company posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as tighter inventory management boosted margins, but demand lagged analysts’ expectations.

Talbots’ second-quarter results echoed those of the prior three-month period, when sales suffered as the retailer did not stock enough merchandise.

Jimmy John’s workers in Minneapolis unionize


jimmyjohnsHere’s a Labor Day story for you: Newly unionized workers at nine Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in Minneapolis took to the streets over the weekend to protest minimum-wage pay, inconsistent daily schedules (some as short as one hour), and a lack of sick days.

“We formed a union to fight for change, starting at Jimmy John’s today, and throughout the entire fast food industry tomorrow,” David Boehnke, a union member said.

Check Out Line: Watch those health claims, FDA tells green tea sellers


Check out federal regulator’s warning to green tea sellers.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Unilever over their use of health claims to sell green tea products.

The agency, which regularly sends warning letters to companies that have violating manufacturing, marketing and testing requirements, took issue with Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s claim that its Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale is “enhanced with 200 mg of antioxidants from green tea and Vitamin C”. FDA said the statement did not comply with rules governing nutrient content claims.

Check Out Line: Campbell glad you had a V8


CAMPBELLCheck out Campbell Soup Co’s quarterly results.

Given the unrelenting, sticky, hot weather that has plagued much of the United States this summer (New York has had its hottest summer on record), it’s hardly shocking that Campbell reported a fall in soup sales.  Even so, it’s not just the heat that’s weighing on Campbell’s soup results: Lower-priced store-brands  have been ladling away sales for some time now.

But Campbell got some help from people drinking more V8 juice drinks. (Perhaps enough people have smacked their foreheads and told themselves, “I coulda had a V8!”)