Retailers, consumers and prices
U.S. retail sales slumped for the second straight month, coming in weaker than analysts had expected due to sluggish gasoline and electronic goods purchases. Meanwhile, U.S. foreclosure activity in April jumped to a record high, further pressuring home prices and making a recovery tougher.
Fashion company Liz Claiborne posted a deeper-than-expected quarterly loss as retail sales remained weak in the recession. The owner of Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand and Mexx labels is cutting jobs, scaling back expansion and offering more lower priced items to combat the slowdown.
Meanwhile, General Growth chose a company to provide its bankruptcy financing. The No. 2 U.S. mall owner filed for bankruptcy in April when it could not refinance its maturing loans due to tightness in the credit markets.
Even overseas, retailers in emerging economies are opening special shops for the poor as the recession squeezes the fledgling middle classes.
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.
Starbucks wants you to know that it is not the home of $4 coffee, and it’s launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to make sure you get the message that its brew is not an expensive luxury.
“Starbucks coffee does not cost $4,” Chief Executive Howard Schultz said this week when he announced the new ad blitz. The ad at left will run on Sunday in the New York Times.
Check out the strong profits Jones Apparel Group tried on in its latest quarter.
The owner of the Jones New York, Nine West and Anne Klein brands easily outperformed analysts’ expectations in the first quarter thanks to cost cutting and rising demand in its wholesale jeans business.
The world’s biggest appliance maker, known for its namesake, Maytag and KitchenAid brands, was aided in the unexpected good news — analysts were expecting a loss — by its cost-cutting efforts. The company has frozen salaries, reduced its contribution to retirement plans and taken other steps to save money amid the recession.
Despite the profit, sales tumbled 23 percent in the first quarter. Whirlpool also said it now expects 2009 industry unit shipments in the United States and Europe to decline more than previously expected.
The online retailer beat Wall Street expectations for quarterly earnings and revenue as lowered prices lured more shoppers online. It also benefited as sales of its Kindle electronic reader gained momentum.
The company increased revenue an unexpectedly strong 18 percent as cash-strapped consumers went shopping online, and Amazon’s own discount shipping program spurred purchases.
Deciding where to spend the remainder, if any, of this month’s paycheck?
At the department store chain’s annual analyst meeting in New York, Penney discussed the steps it is taking to win consumers’ hearts (and their money).
One of the steps highlighted: A chance for its rewards program customers to meet country music band Rascal Flatts, which recently topped U.S. pop album charts with its album called “Unstoppable.”
McDonald’s, the world’s largest hamburger chain, posted a higher quarterly profit that beat analysts’ expectations.
It also said April same-store sales were trending at least as strong or better than first-quarter sales in every part of the world.
Mike Duke, the newly installed CEO of Wal-Mart, has been watching the recession play out in the cash register at his stores.
In an interview on the Today Show, Duke took Matt Lauer on a walk through a Walmart store, and talked about how he is seeing his shoppers navigate the downturn.