Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

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.

The world’s top discount retailer said that besides cutting prices for those staple food items in its Ontario stores, it will also slash prices on hundreds of products across Canada in September, after a round of different price cuts in August.

Wal-Mart’s decision is yet another nod to the fact that more and more shoppers are squeezed for money these days.

Fighting the fugly jean

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jeans.jpgAmerican Eagle is fighting a fickle foe: fugly jeans.

What makes jeans sit on the shelf instead of flying off the shelves? That’s up to the whims of American Eagle’s 15- to 25-year old target customer. The retailer’s summer offerings didn’t quite meet the expectations of its core audience, and sales suffered.

“We had a number of styles that just did not perform. And that hurt us very, very much,” American Eagle’s Chief Executive Jim O’Donnell said on a call with analysts.

Drug stores top hot list with acquisitions

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(Due to a tabulation error in the research, STORES Magazine has issued a corrected list. This is being corrected to remove Coldwater Creek from the Top 10 list and replace it with Citi Trends at No. 10) 

cvs.jpgThough the retail industry cooled last year to its slowest growth since 2002, a number of retail companies experienced fiery growth, according to the National Retail Federation. The hottest retailers, in general, grew through acquisitions, according to the trade group’s STORES Magazine.

J. Crew’s mea culpa shows Mickey’s modest side

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mickey.jpgJ. Crew is getting personal with an emailed mea culpa apologizing to customers who may have had “issues” while shopping online in recent weeks.

While the email’s introduction sounds like a missing line from Sinatra’s “My Way“, it goes on to plead for patience. Humility is in fashion!

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.

Office supply retailers give more power to the penny

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pennies.jpgThink a penny can’t buy much these days? If you’re a back-to-school shopper, think again.

Major office supply retailers–Staples, Office Depot and OfficeMax–are offering some basic school supplies for a penny and have marked down other items to give consumers relief from higher gas and food prices and to try to lure shoppers over the next couple of months.

Check Out Line: Kroger Kroger rides lower prices, gas discounts to higher profit

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kroger.jpgCheck Out the quarterly profit at Kroger Co.

The largest U.S. grocery chain posted a higher quarterly profit on Tuesday, thanks to its emphasis on lower prices and gasoline discounts – music to its shoppers’ ears and higher sales for itself.

“Kroger continues to help customers stretch their budgets in a number of ways, including lower prices and our expanded generic drug and gas discount programs,” chief executive David Dillon said in a statement.

Coupon Web sites attracting more visits

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grocery-line.jpgAs consumer prices rise and the economy founders, Web surfers are scouring cyberspace for deals.

A new study released this week by market research firm Hitwise showed that online coupon clipping is on the rise.

Wal-Mart Proud (insert applause here)

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wal1.jpgUpon entering Wal-Mart Stores annual shareholder meeting, an observer might be forgiven for thinking they had just walked into a lively, national political convention.

Patriotic red and blue buntings covered the 16,000-seat arena at the University of Arkansas, the music hardly stopped and the crowd was treated to a constrant stream of well-tuned public relations bullet points — in this case, sustainability, community relations and saving shoppers money.

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