Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: More corporate earnings to parse

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walmart1Check out the latest raft of quarterly earnings.

With investors and denizens of Main Street alike dissecting various government reports and company press releases for hints on the relative strength or weakness of the U.S. economy, the latest slew of quarterly earnings arrived to parse, including better-than-expected results from Wal-Mart Stores and Home Depot.

Wal-Mart posted a better-than-expected profit helped by cost cuts and growth in international markets as sales at U.S. stores open at least a year fell. The world’s largest retailer also raised its full-year profit forecast.

Home Depot, the largest home improvement chain, reported a slightly better-than-expected profit on tighter cost controls, but sales missed analysts’ expectations as consumers curbed purchases in the grim U.S. economy. The results prompted the company to boost its profit outlook and shave its sales forecast for the year.

Apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch also posted a profit that topped expectations as the company’s discounts drew customers and lifted sales, while Danish brewer Carlsberg’s higher profit surprised and it raised its 2010 outlook.

Check Out Line: Steady is the new sexy!

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shop1Check out the boring but steady holiday-season sales outlook.

U.S. retailers might have reason to celebrate amid the weak economy as a steady holiday season with a gentle increase in sales this year, executives said at the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit.

That would be a relief after the plummet in sales in 2008 as well as 2009, when stores waited for shoppers to return. But don’t expect a return to the heady days of 2007 either as shoppers are likely to remain cautious through the rest of the year.

Check Out Line: It’s the Reuters Retail Summit

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clothes.jpgCheck out a bunch of retail executives talking about the state of the industry, economy and the outlook for holiday shopping.
 
It’s the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit, being held this week in New York, featuring top executives from Borders, Best Buy, Toys “R” Us, Jones Apparel, Perry Ellis and others.
 
The executives meet with Reuters reporters as most retailers are struggling to attract consumers that have been clobbered by $4-a-gallon gasoline, falling home prices, a credit crunch and rising food costs.
 
Sales got a bit of a boost in May as consumers started to spend their tax rebates. But analysts say that bump could be fleeting, with consumers still under pressure after the rebates have been spent.
 
To find out what retailers think, check out the Retail Summit page all week.
 
Also in the basket:
 
InBev cautions Bid about striking Modelo deal
 
Trust chairman sees change, but no sale, at Hershey
 
CostPlus rejects Pier 1 acquisition offer
 
Starbucks says international growth to cushion U.S. weakness
(Photo: Reuters)

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