Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Warehouse of woe


Check out the falling same-store sales at Costco.
Okay, October was a pretty rancid month for most retailers, and most did worse than Costco.
But the warehouse club operator had a 1 pct same-store sales decline in October that was its worst performance since Thomson Reuters began tracking such data for Costco in 1997.
Warehouse clubs had been holding in with cash-strapped consumers looking to save money with bulk purchases of toilet paper, food and other essential items.
But consumers have really cut back on the nonessentials, so sales of items like computers, toys and jewelry suffered.
Wonder how the 1,000-count bottles of aspirin are selling as consumers cope with the economic headache.

Also in the basket:
Anheuser profit meets view; silent on deal
For Wal-Mart, a Christmas that’s made to order (N.Y. Times)
President Obama’s Era: Low-Key and Modern, From Society to Style (WWD, subscription required)

(Reuters photo)

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. 

Sam’s Club tries luring new members with $10 deal


sams.jpgWal-Mart is betting $10 and 10 weeks will draw new members to its Sam’s Club warehouses.

Sam’s Club and Costco work as membership clubs. Shoppers pay an annual fee that allows them to shop in the warehouses and get discounts on everything from diamond rings and big screen TVs, to bulk-sized packages of toilet paper or bottled water.

Check Out Line: Tough Month for Retail


Check out disappointing September retail sales

Many U.S. retailers posted worse-than-expected sales at stores open at least a year on Wednesday, and some cut their profit outlooks and said things won’t improve anytime soon as consumers remain shaken by the financial crisis, job worries and the housing slump.

retail12.jpgDiscounter Wal-Mart Stores and warehouse clubs managed the best sales performances in September as shoppers sought bargains on necessities. Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, stood by its third quarter earnings forecast.

Women plan to spend less at department stores, mass merchants


shop.jpgLast month, in a poll conducted by SheSpeaks, a women’s insights marketing firm, almost 50 percent of respondents said they would spend less this holiday. That was up from nearly 30 percent who answered the same way last year.

In a new poll, SheSpeaks asks where shoppers intend to spend fewer dollars. Here are the results from the updated poll:

BJ’s: Prices are going up and competition may be “brutal”


costco1.jpgLate last month, Costco warned its quarterly profit would miss Wall Street estimates as soaring costs and inflationary pressures ate into its margins.

While the cost of the goods it sells was going up, the No 1 U.S. warehouse club operator said it was delaying passing along price increases to shoppers in order to boost its sales and appeal to cash-strapped consumers.

Check out line: Not Costco, too?


costco1.jpgCheck out the earnings warning from Costco.
Warehouse clubs were supposed to be benefiting from the weak economy and soaring gas prices as consumers, hit by rising food costs and gasoline prices, looked to save money.
But it turns out that benefit might only be on the sales side, not the bottom line.
Costco said Wednesday that quarterly profit would be well below analysts’ estimates.
“Factors negatively affecting our fourth-quarter earnings outlook arise largely from inflation, particularly as to energy costs,” Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said in a statement.
The company is making less money on its gasoline operations and margins on its merchandise were also down as it tried to maintain prices that would attract customers, Costco said.
Warehouse clubs and discounters had been some of the better retail sales performers in recent months.

So is Costco’s warning specific to the company, or is the lower-priced part of the retail spectrum taking a hit now, too?
Also in the basket:
Philip Morris International beats Wall Street view
Hershey profit down excluding charges
A lean holiday season: stores cut inventories, but hope glitz is gold (WWD)

Check Out Line: A mixed bag of retail results


bags.jpgCheck out quarterly results from retail companies, including Sears, Costco, Heinz and Big Lots.

Markdowns? No good for Sears. The company, controlled by Eddie Lampert, posted a surprise loss, hurt by discounts and floundering sales at its Kmart and namesake stores.  Immediate respite is not in sight, Sears said, as consumers juggle higher gasoline and food prices.

Who knew a grain of rice would cause a global ruckus?


thrice2408.gifFood costs have been soaring worldwide, spurred by increased demand in emerging markets like China and India; competition with biofuels; high oil prices and market speculation. 

That situation has sparked food riots in several African countries, Indonesia, and Haiti. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that higher food prices could hurt global growth and security.