Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Wal-Mart cuts prices in Canada


walmart-milk.jpgCheck Out Wal-Mart’s price cuts for eggs, milk, butter and bread in Ontario, Canada.

If you are counting pennies but still want that morning coffee and omelet, you can now buy one- and two-liter milk cartons for $1.77 and $2.97 respectively or a dozen large eggs for $1.97, if you shop at Wal-Mart’s Ontario stores.

The world’s top discount retailer said that besides cutting prices for those staple food items in its Ontario stores, it will also slash prices on hundreds of products across Canada in September, after a round of different price cuts in August.

Wal-Mart’s decision is yet another nod to the fact that more and more shoppers are squeezed for money these days.

Check Out Line: Rite Aid’s June sales


pharmacy.jpgCheck out how generic drugs cut into June pharmacy sales at Rite Aid.

The No. 3 U.S. drugstore chain said its pharmacy same-store sales fell 0.5 percent, as generic drugs were introduced and allergy medicine Zyrtec was switched to over-the-counter status.

Generic drug rollouts hurt rival Walgreen as well. That company said a day earlier those drugs cut into its pharmacy same-store sales by 2.1 percentage points. 

Coupon Web sites attracting more visits


grocery-line.jpgAs consumer prices rise and the economy founders, Web surfers are scouring cyberspace for deals.

A new study released this week by market research firm Hitwise showed that online coupon clipping is on the rise.

Wal-Mart Proud (insert applause here)


wal1.jpgUpon entering Wal-Mart Stores annual shareholder meeting, an observer might be forgiven for thinking they had just walked into a lively, national political convention.

Patriotic red and blue buntings covered the 16,000-seat arena at the University of Arkansas, the music hardly stopped and the crowd was treated to a constrant stream of well-tuned public relations bullet points — in this case, sustainability, community relations and saving shoppers money.

Check Out Line: Off Target


dog.jpgCheck out the other discounter.
The wisdom in the struggling U.S. economy is that discounters are doing well as consumers trade down to try to save some money. It has worked for Wal-Mart, which saw first quarter profit rise 7 percent, while same-store sales rose 2.9 percent.
Not so much for Target, though.
That discount retailer today posted a 7.5 percent decline in net income for the quarter and its same-store sales dipped 0.7 percent and were weaker than the company had expected.
For a time, Target attracted customers with an approach that became known as “cheap chic,” with designers like Isaac Mizrahi developing exclusive clothing lines for it. At the same time, Wal-Mart has stumbled with its own attempts to upgrade its apparel offerings.
But even before the economy went south, Wal-Mart refocused on offering lower-priced value, a move that has helped the company in an economy that many say is in a recession.
Meanwhile, sales are falling short of Target’s target. And  Mizrahi has left to become creative director at Liz Claiborne.
Right now, it looks like the dog days for Target, while Wal-Mart sports a smiley face.
Also in the basket:
Home Depot posts quarterly loss 
Saks Inc posts higher quarterly profit 

(Photo: Reuters)