Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: McDonald’s finally makes its move


mcdfries.JPGCheck out McDonald’s Corp’s long-awaited switch to trans fat-free cooking oil in the United States and Canada.

Jim Skinner, CEO at the Golden Arches, said the world’s largest hamburger chain finished dumping the oil with artery-clogging trans fats during the last few months. Speaking to investors at the company’s annual meeting, he also promised that pies and other baked goods would also be trans fat-free by year end. 

McDonald’s was among the first fast-food purveyor to vow to stop using trans fats, but it lagged the competition when it came to putting its money where its mouth is.

The company had its reasons. It said it was insuring a consistent taste for its french fries and looking for a supplier that could deliver enough trans fat-free oil to meet its needs.

Consumer Reports mellows on Starbucks


Pike Place cupFirst it was too bitter, now it’s too mild.

Will Starbucks ever get it just right with the coffee testers at Consumer Reports?

In March 2007, the magazine blasted Starbucks’ drip java for being too burnt and bitter, and said fast-food vendor McDonald’s had a superior brew.

Check Out Line: A few bright spots amid consumer gloom


mcd.jpgCheck Out a few bright spots in consumerville. 

McDonald’s posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, boosted by strong overseas sales. Coach also reported a higher-than-expected profit, helped by higher sales at stores in North America and Japan.

But the impact of a weak U.S. consumer and a weak U.S. economy was clearly on display as the earnings report began to  roll in this week.

Check Out Line: Starbucks’ new brew


bucks.jpgCheck out the free coffee!
Starbucks will be handing out free 8-ounce samples of its new everyday brew called Pike Place Roast on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Pacific time (noon eastern).
But the free coffee is not just about generosity. Starbucks is counting on  the new coffee as one tool to help reinvigorate U.S. traffic, which has been slowing in recent months.
The Pike Place Roast brew is supposed to remind consumers of Starbucks’ early Seattle roots. The company says the coffee has a smoother flavor and finish.
The new brew is one of several steps Starbucks announced last month — including a new customer rewards program and new espresso machines — as it tries to draw customers back amid a weak U.S. economy and competition in the coffee business from McDonald’s.
Also in the basket:
Countdown at Cavalli: Bidding process begins for stake in firm (WWD)
Asian inflation begins to sting U.S. shoppers (N.Y. Times)

 (Photo: Reuters)