Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

NHL teams put freeze on ticket prices


caps1National Hockey League teams put the freeze on ticket prices this season.

The average price for general tickets in the NHL ticked up just 0.1 percent to $51.41, according to Team Marketing Report (TMR), a sports marketing firm that tracks ticket costs in the major North American sports leagues. After adjusting Canadian prices to current exchange rates, the average cost of a ticket rose by just 5 cents.  

In the previous three years, the average NHL ticket cost rose 5.1 percent (2008-2009), 7.7 percent (2007-2008) and 3.7 percent (2006-2007), TMR said.

Fourteen teams kept prices unchanged from last year and six saw their averages decline, according to TMR.

Meanwhile, the average Fan Cost Index (FCI) – the cost of a family of four to attend a game — rose 1.7 percent to $301, TMR said. The FCI includes the cost of four tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking, two game programs and two caps.

Check Out Line: Walgreen has prescription for profits


walgreen12Check out the better-than-expected profit at Walgreen.

The largest U.S. drugstore chain saw shares rise 10 percent as its fourth-quarter profit benefited from a make-over that includes sprucing up stores and cutting jobs.

Walgreen also announced a new plan to promote 90-day prescriptions available at its stores as an alternative to the mail-order programs favored by many insurance programs.

Check Out Line: A glimmer of holiday optimism


USA/Check Out this slightly more optimistic holiday sales forecast.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) said the 2009 U.S. holiday season is likely to be “a lot better” than last year, with sales rising roughly 1 to 2 percent.

The forecast, perhaps the most bullish yet, comes after a dismal 2008 holiday season that by some accounts was the worst in about 40 years.

A Runway Paved with Gold


Gold bars   Who needs the runway when Goldfinger’s got your back?
   Fashion industry watchers wonder whether more designers will use Times Square’s neon signs as a virtual runway in the future, like Carmen Marc Valvo  did with his spring/summer 2010 show during New York Fashion Week. More to the point, will more designers follow his lead next time by asking the World Gold Council  and the Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. – or other financial markets players — to help foot the bill?

A Valvo spokesman says the cost was “about half” that of a runway show in the Bryant Park Tents.  The tab usually starts at $100,000 and can run $250,000 or more, depending on how many models and special effects are involved. This was perhaps the flashiest example of how designers, hit hard by the recession, are seeking more sponsorships to finance their New York shows than in the past. Check out this video of the Times Square show, which ran on the neon signs of Nasdaq, Thomson Reuters and Fox:
  Even with gold trading above $1,000 an ounce, that’s still less than what some of Valvo’s gowns go for at  Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
   The World Gold Council’s Duvall O’Steen said the group paid 10 models and other show expenses — the first time it’s taken such a high-profile role at Fashion Week. Check out this video as O’Steen talks about fashion and gold jewelry:

       In fact, the World Gold Council is getting more requests now for corporate event sponsorships than it can accommodate, O’Steen said. And it’s happening after a year when a drop in world gold mining production curbed its budget for such affairs.
        Bruce Aust, Nasdaq’s executive vice president of the corporate client group, also explains why the made its first foray into fashion:

     Michael Quintanilla, who covers fashion for the San Antonio Express-News and two other Hearst newspapers, told Reuters: “Times Square was the perfect place for a fashion show. With all that neon, it’s very ‘Blade Runner.’ I loved the format. You could drop in when you wanted, have a cocktail, talk to Carmen, see the clothes and leave, without being herded into a space like cattle and being forced to wait.”

Check Out Line: Look for the (private) label


shop12Check out consumers’ continued taste for private label items.

In the past 12 months, private label’s unit and dollar share of the U.S. market have grown, according to a report by research firm Information Resources Inc. Unit share grew 1.2 points to 22.8 percent, while dollar share inched up 0.7 points to 17.6 percent.

“The popularity of private brands will continue as a result of several factors,” IRI Consulting and Innovation President Thom Blischok said in the statement. “These products offer a very strong value proposition based on quality as well as price. In addition, shoppers will continue their frugal shopping patterns long after the recession ends. And, retailers’ increasingly sophisticated private brand strategies will attract a larger and more diverse shopper base.”

Check Out Line: Campbell profit mmm, mmm good


cpb1Check out Campbell Soup’s better-than-expected profit .

The world’s largest soup company posted operating earnings of 30 cents a share in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009.

That was four cents better than Wall Street had expected, thanks to higher prices and increased sales of condensed soup and Prego pasta sauce as people ate at home more to save money during the economic slump.

Shift FROM thrift? Are diners trading up?


olivegardenAfter a much heralded “shift to thrift” during what has become the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression, diners are now saying they plan to spend less money at cheap fast-food chains and more at some pricier eateries like Darden‘s Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, Chipotle and Maggiano’s Little Italy from Brinker

“Trading up is supported by fewer customers saying they’re ordering less expensive items, skipping beverages and choosing less expensive restaurants,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller wrote in a client note. Miller regularly polls diners about their spending plans. 

Attack of the snack tax


obesityA worsening obesity epidemic and lingering recession have state and local governments scrambling for new streams of revenue — including taxes on soda and other sugary beverages.

That’s potentially bad news for the nation’s food and beverage industries, which are on the defensive as the battle rages behind the scenes.

Check Out Line: Tastes great, less costly!


shop1Check out Consumer Reports’ latest taste test.

The magazine found that 23 store-brand foods tasted as good as or better than their big national brand competitors in blind tests of 29 food products.  The store-brand foods tested cost an average of 27 percent less than their big-name counterparts, allowing consumers to trim their shopping bills. 

“Our tests should erase any lingering doubts that store-brand packaged goods aren’t at least worth a try. In many cases, you’ll save money without compromising on quality,” Tod Marks, senior project editor for Consumer Reports Shopping, said in a statement.

Check Out Line: At Tiffany, the cut is in the costs, not the diamonds


TIFFANY & CoCheck out cost cuts at Tiffany.
it is (was?) a recession and people aren’t buying as much expensive jewelry. Sales at Tiffany fell 16 percent in the latest quarter.
But even though profit also fell almost 30 percent, Tiffany shares still rose.
Cost cuts helped Tiffany beat analyst expectations. The company said SG&A expenses fell 14 percent. It’s also slowing its pace of store openings because of the recession.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s?” Right now, it might be an Egg McMuffin and coffee from the deli on the corner.
Also in the basket:
Consumer spending lifted by “cash-for-clunkers”
L’Oreal H1 beats forecasts, ready to make purchase

(Photo: Reuters)