Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Clearing out the pantry


BRITAIN-WOOLWORTHS/CLOSINGCheck out people buying only what they use.
Remember when every time you went to the store you bought toilet paper, paper towels and other basics just so that you wouldn’t run out?
Well, those days appear to be gone.
As companies like Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble report earnings, one thing becoming clear is that consumers are now using up everything they have in their cupboards before buying replacements.
Call it “destocking,” “pantry deloading,” or “inventory drawdowns,” but whatever it’s called, it cuts into sales — for retailers and manufacturers. As consumers are using up the shampoo or soup they have on their shelves before buying more, retailers are also getting rid of excess inventory before buying more from manufacturers.
With the economy in recession, consumers have every reason to be frugal. On top of that, manufacturers have raised prices over the past two years in order to cope with soaring commodity costs.
But with fewer items being purchased, the next question is whether those manufacturers will have to lower prices to maintain market share.
Also in the basket:
GDP sees biggest drop in 27 years
Unilever faces slowdown just as new CEO takes over
 (Photo: Reuters)

Hasbro joins 2009 race to snag shoppers


USA/Want cheap entertainment? No problem.

Hasbro, the second-largest toymaker, thinks it has what cash-strapped shoppers need in 2009: A lineup of new card games priced at around $7.

They include Scrabble Slam and Monopoly Deal, which play off the original board games and aim to entertain stay-at-home consumers in a recession-mired economy.

Check Out Line: Black Friday


Check out Black Friday.

Call it a test of the American consumer’s mettle.
How many will feel confident enough about the economy, and their own future within it, to spend money that is increasingly hard to come by? How many will resist the siren call of steep discounts and sales for even the hottest gadgets, like those available at Apple Inc’s stores?

This Black Friday, such questions are not only central to the future of many of the best known U.S. retailers, but amount to a key indicator of how quickly the country’s consumer-led economy will shrink in the coming months. How deep a recession could it be, how long might it last?

Check Out Line: October sales — worst since 2000?


Check out the October monthly sales results due this week.

Think of an adjective for “bad” and that pretty much describes Wall Street analysts’ current view for how the month shaped up. 

Retail chains, like Wal-Mart, Costco and J.C. Penney, will release October results on Wednesday and Thursday, and Thomson Reuters is forecasting a decline of 0.1 percent. 

Check Out Line: Who needs foreign tourists? Luxury chains have Palin!


palin11.jpgCheck Out Alaska Gov. and hockey mom Sarah Palin, who’s not only John McCain’s vice presidential pick, but a luxury fashion maverick.

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 since late August to outfit Palin and her family in the fanciest of duds from department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus, says

Check Out Line: Mother Nature matters more than ever


rain2.jpgCheck out the cool and wet weather that hit U.S. retailers in September as the month will go into the books as the fifth coolest in the last seven years and much cooler than last year, according to Planalytics Inc, a business weather tracking company.

While the mean September temperature in the 96 largest U.S. metro areas fell about 4 points from last year to 64.2 degrees, retailers selling rainwear (demand up 29 percent based purely on weather), pants (up 13 percent), dehumidifiers (up 10 percent) and hot cereal (up 2 percent) benefited, Planalytics said.

Check Out Line: Who needs groceries when you’ve got KFC?


kfc.jpgCheck Out KFC challenging the American people to create a family dinner for under $10, the same price as their Value Meal.

Consumers have been eating at home more often as high food and gas prices and a decline in home values pressure budgets. KFC is trying to win back those customers by convincing families it’s just as cheap to buy its value meal, priced at $9.99, as it is to buy dinner at the supermarket and cook at home.

Check Out Line: Boscov’s sold to private equity


boscovs.jpgCheck Out private equity gobbling up department store chain Boscov’s Department Store LLC, one of the latest retailers to get into trouble as customers reduce spending.

Boscov’s, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, has agreed to sell most of its assets to private equity firm Versa Capital Management Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

They lust for Leiber and buy Coach


leiber.jpgWhen it comes to luxury handbags , wealthy American women view Leiber bags as the most prestigious,  but most often buy Coach, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

The survey, conducted by a research firm called The Luxury Institute, found Leiber scored highest on its “Luxury Brand Status Index”, which includes measurements for quality, exclusivity, social status and self-enhancement (meaning the brand can make the buyer feel special).

Donate your used suit for a good cause


mens-suits.jpgGot an old suit gathering dust in the back of your closet? Men’s Wearhouse wants to give it to someone who could make better use of it.

The retailer is holding a national suit drive at 580 of its U.S. locations, collecting donations of used suits, sport coats, slacks, dress shirts, ties and belts. The clothing will be distributed to more than 120 local and regional non-profit organizations in cities across the country and given to men in need who are re-entering the workforce.