Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Hand sanitizers popular in swine flu scare


flu1Check out the uptick in business at U.S. and Canadian drug store chains amid the swine flu scare.

Hand sanitizers, antibacterial soap, face masks and gloves are flying off the shelves of drug stores due to fear of swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, but executives said it is too early to judge the impact in other retail sectors.

The makers of such products, like Johnson & Johnson’s widely used hand sanitizer Purell, are ramping up production to meet demand.

Even Kellogg, the world’s largest cereal maker, said it had seen some large orders from Mexican retailers that may be stockpiling in case consumers begin hoarding food in the wake of the flu outbreak there. However, officials there were encouraged by signs the number of new cases were dropping.

What to do when Wal-Mart comes to town


USA/What happens to sales at existing retailers when a new Wal-Mart store opens its doors?

That’s the question Kusum Ailawadi, professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, addresses in a new research paper.

Check Out Line: Walgreen cuts store growth plans


WALGREEN/Check Out Walgreen Co slowing its store opening plan.

The drug store operator said on Monday it will open new stores at a rate of 4 percent to 4.5 percent in 2010 and between 2.5 percent and 3 percent in 2011. That’s down from an already reduced plan for 5 percent growth by 2011,  as Walgreen contends with a weak economy and restricted consumer spending.

It will open new stores in strategic markets, in the “best corners” and where there are the best return rates, Walgreen said.

Check Out Line: Rite Aid drags down Jean Coutu results


eckerd.jpgCheck Out poor sales at U.S. pharmacy chain Rite Aid dragging down quarterly results at Jean Coutu Group, the Canadian drugstore chain that owns about a third of Rite Aid and reported its quarterly results today.

Jean Coutu, which is required by Canadian law to include Rite Aid’s results with its own, reported a steep second-quarter loss of 16 Canadian cents a share for the quarter ended Aug. 30, compared with a profit of 3 Canadian cents a share for the comparable quarter last year.  ($1=$1.08 Canadian)