Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: No stimulus checks, gas prices rising

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Check out a lack of government stimulus checks and rising gas prices weighing on consumers –and the retailers that are trying to sell them stuff.

bbyBest Buy reported lower earnings for its fiscal first-quarter (which ended May 30), and said sales at its stores open at least 14 months declined the most during May. A year ago it got a boost in that month when shoppers came into its stores to spend those government stimulus checks.

The consumer electronics retailer said fewer customers visited its U.S. stores during the quarter. Sales of gaming items, digital cameras, appliances and movies fell, while notebook computers, mobile phones and repair services sold well.

Meanwhile the The ICSC-Goldman Sachs chain store sales index for the week ending June 13 declined by 0.6 percent from the prior week and fell by 1.5 percent from the prior year — the weakest
year-over-year performance in seven weeks.

Check Out Line: Signs of brighter days ahead?

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gaspumpCheck out hopeful signs that the recession may be abating.

While recent reports showed slumping sales at many big-box retailers, there are other signs that the economy may be bottoming.

U.S. retail sales rose in May and the number of workers who filed new applications for jobless benefits last week fell for the fourth straight week.

Check Out Line: Wal-Mart cuts prices in Canada

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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.

Check Out Line: Mixed messages from retailers

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Check out retailers’ profits and forecasts.

A discerning shopper, or investor for that matter, could browse the aisles of the retail financial world and come away with very different messages on the strength of the U.S. economy depending on which company’s results they chose.

default-2.jpgOn the plus side,  upscale jeweler Tiffany posted a better-than-expected profit and raised its full-year outlook, although that was driven by strong sales overseas. Tiffany expects U.S. same-store sales to return to growth in the fourth quarter. Shoe and hat retailer Genesco, and home-appliance and consumer-electronics retailer Conn’s also topped Wall Street’s views and boosted their forecasts.

Check Out Line: The short-lived tax rebate boost

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sale.jpgCheck out the fading influence of tax rebate checks.

Tax rebate checks helped boost June retail sales but their influence appears to have petered out by July, according to data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday.

The figures showed that total sales at U.S. retailers declined 0.1 percent in July, which was in line with forecasts made by Wall Street economists. A big reason for the drop was a fall off in auto sales. Auto and auto parts sales fell 2.4 percent in the month, their biggest drop since April, and were off a whopping 10.5 percent from year-ago levels. 

Check Out Line: International strength pretties up Avon profit

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lips1.jpgCheck out how international sales and the weak dollar continue to lift quarterly results at U.S. companies.

Second-quarter profit at cosmetics firm Avon Products Inc more than doubled, as demand in Latin America and other overseas markets more than made up for sagging U. S. results.

Check Out Line: How oil prices and consumers influence earnings

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consumer.jpgCheck Out how the spiking price of oil and lifeless consumer spending are affecting more consumer companies.

Supervalu, whose chains include Albertsons and Save-A-Lot, didn’t see any increase in its total quarterly sales. Its food sales were actually down 0.7 percent, but the company saved itself in part with lower expenses, and reported a higher quarterly profit.

Check Out Line: Billions can’t rescue retail sales

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shop.jpgCheck out all those billions of dollars in U.S. tax rebate checks failing to give June retail sales much of a boost.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that total sales at U.S. retailers rose a less-than-expected 0.1 percent in June.  Economists polled by Reuters had forecast total retail sales to rise 0.4 percent in June, following a 0.8 percent gain in May.

Check Out Line: Walgreen’s 3rd-quarter results propel stock

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Check out the quarterly results at Walgreen, one of the largest U.S. drugstore operators.

The company posted a 2 percent increase in quarterly profit, amid a weak U.S. economy and slowing growth in sales of prescription drugs —  in the rewalgreen.jpgported quarter, Zyrtec was switched to over-the-counter status.

Check Out Line: Inflation crimps consumer companies

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cocoaBy Ben Klayman

Check out how high gas and commodity costs are crimping Hershey and Best Buy.

Chocolate maker Hershey cut its long-term earnings growth target and said it would boost advertising as it moves to reverse falling profits.

However, the largest U.S. chocolate company, which is meeting with analysts, said the pressures it faces — soaring prices for cocoa , energy and other commodities — remain the same.

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