Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Pinkberry through a straw

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granita1.JPGPinkberry, the trendy fro-yo chain growing rapidly in California and New York, is making its tart yogurt drinkable, calling it Granita and selling it starting on Friday at a handful of Southern California stores.

“Our customers want Pinkberry at different times of the day,” Pinkberry Chief Executive Ron Graves told Reuters. “This is obviously much more portable, whether you’re in your car or walking down the street.”

A small Granita will set you back $3.00 and a large will cost $3.50. Think of it as an icy, lightly sweetened plain yogurt shake rather than a smoothie or Starbucks’ Pinkberry-inspired Sorbetto drink.

(Photo courtesy of Pinkberry)

Fro-yo leaders break from the pack

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newpinkberry1.jpgFrozen yogurt is hot — again.

Pinkberry and Red Mango revived the segment and are breaking away from the pack with help from venture capital funding.

While the last generation of frozen yogurt sellers offered ice cream-flavored swirls, next-gen “fro-yo” shops peddle a tart and tangy product that tastes closer to unadulterated yogurt — boosting its appeal as a healthy snack.

Starbucks drops the axe — is your store next?

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starbucksstore2.jpgCalifornia, Florida and Texas — the states with the biggest populations and the most Starbucks outlets — are losing the most stores as the coffee chain slashes more than 600 stores in a bid to boost slumping U.S. results.

While big states are losing the most, few markets — even Starbucks’ hometown of Seattle — are immune.

Is Starbucks’ Vivanno the next Frappuccino?

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vivanno1.JPGStarbucks stores around the United States are quietly preparing to roll out a new line of smoothies, called Vivanno, next week.

Some stores have even started a countdown for customers. In at least four coffee shops in Los Angeles and Chicago on Friday, chalkboards announced that Vivanno Nourishing Blends smoothies would be available in just four days.

Check out line: Consumer spending shifts

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starbucks.jpgCheck out the reallocation of consumer spending.
 
Pricey coffee? Out. Spending at the dollar store? In.
 
Family Dollar posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by tight control of inventory and expenses, and said June sales were better than expected as consumers received their tax rebate checks.
 
While traffic was down, customers were spending more on each trip.
 
Meanwhile, as the economy softens, so has Starbucks’ business.
 
The coffee shop operator now says it will close 600 U.S. stores, six times the number it had targeted in January.
 
Gone are the days when a Starbucks on every corner worked for the company. Most of the stores to be closed are near other locations, so pruning the underperforming locations might help the others grow.
 
” ‘Reverse cannibalization’ should be felt in the relatively near future as the bulk of stores are located within close proximity of another unit and will be closed by the first half of 2009,” J.P. Morgan analyst John Ivankoe said.
 
Also in the basket:
 
EXCLUSIVE-Kraft reps all over stores to boost sales
 
ANALYSIS-UK grocers to shun price war as shoppers trade down
 
Stores look to lure millennial generation (WWD)

(Photo: Reuters)

Consumer Reports mellows on Starbucks

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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: Store growth plans squashed

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sbux.jpgCheck out fewer places to sip that latte or buy that power saw.

Late on Wednesday, Starbucks said it would slash U.S. coffee store openings through 2011 as it adjusts to slower U.S. growth.

The coffee giant blamed the domestic housing crisis for a significant quarter-over-quarter deterioration in U.S. customer traffic and said it saw early signs of a potential traffic slowdown in the United Kingdom, which may be related to economic problems there.

Weighing in on Starbucks’ new brew

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star5.jpg

“Not as bitter!” “What’s with the flayed mermaid”? “Smooth …” “What? Free coffee?”

Just a few of the comments overheard this morning in the busy newsroom — journalists are a highly caffeinated bunch, after all — about Starbucks Corp’s new coffee brew called Pike Place Roast, launched today.

Check Out Line: Starbucks’ new brew

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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)

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