Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Thank you, March

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Check out the latest retailer to benefit from the earlier Easter and a mild March.

family dollar storeFamily Dollar’s profit in the quarter that ended in February came in higher than analysts’ anticipated, as the discounter extended hours at its stores and sold more private label goods, which carry better margins.

The retailer is already seeing other benefits this quarter.  Sales at stores open at least a year rose a whopping 11 percent in March, aided by Easter falling earlier in April this year than it did last year.  Some nicer weather also helped, it said.

Family Dollar’s third-quarter and full-year forecasts suggest profits could top analysts’ expectations throughout the remainder of fiscal 2010.

Check Out Line: Slurping up strong sales at McDonald’s

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CHINA-MCDONALDS/Check out those sales rising at fast-food giant McDonald’s.

The burger chain said its April sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 6.9 percent rise in April. In the U.S. alone, April same-store sales increased 6.1 percent, helped by new coffee drinks and chicken snack wraps.

Fast-food restaurants have generally held up better in the recession than higher-priced sit-down restaurants. 

Check Out Line: Regis results spiffed up by early Easter

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haircut1.jpgCheck out the Easter haircuts.
 
While the early Easter this year threw off results at many retailers, the holiday haircut was apparently still in fashion.
 
Regis, which runs Supercuts and other salon chains, posted its biggest same-store sales increase in eight years, helped at least somewhat by the early Easter, which moved into the company’s fiscal third quarter this year.
 
The company said the majority of the sales increase came from price increases. (That shave and a haircut definitely costs more than two bits.)
 
But it also cited the earlier Easter as boosting sales, which helped lead to more than a tripling of profits.
 
Nothing beats the feeling of a fresh haircut.
 
Also in the basket:
 
Philip Morris Int’l profit up, raises forecast
 
Playing Exclusives Game: Results Can Be Win-Win But Brands Face Pitfalls (WWD)
 
Pepsi Bottling profit falls; affirms outlook

P.F. Chang’s 1st-quarter profit falls

(Photo: Reuters)

Check Out Line: Bunny boost at Walgreen’s

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bunny.jpgCheck out the Easter boost in drugstore land.
 
Drugstore chains have been hurt by the weak U.S. economy of late, especially in the nonprescription part of the store.
 
But Easter seems to have helped at least one of the largest drugstore chains: Walgreen’s.
 
Walgreen Co said strong sales of Easter merchandise helped it post better-than-expected general merchandise sales in March. And they aren’t just talking about the fact that Easter came early this year, moving up purchases that would normally have occurred in April.
 
“The company recorded strong Easter seasonal sales, and front-end sales exceeded expectations for the month despite the slowing economy,” it said in a news release.
 
Of course, those front-end sales were needed to offset tepid prescription drug sales. The switch of allergy medicine Zyrtec to over-the-counter status, and a slower flu season for prescriptions hurt sales in that area as did an influx of lower-priced generic drugs in the past 12-months.
 
Still, for at least a month, it was chocolate bunnies to the rescue.
 
Also in the basket:
 
Best Buy profit better than expected
 
Lululemon’s sales double, to close Japan stores
 
Knit prices soar up to 20 percent for fall (WWD, subscription required)

(Reuters photo)

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