Retailers, consumers and prices
We are in the heart of the earnings season and every day brings reports that offer grist for both sides of the argument about whether the recovery has begun.
For the optimists, we have sports clothing and footwear maker Under Armour, which posted a stronger-than-expected quarter and raised its outlook, and yoga clothing and athletic gear maker Lululemon Athletica, which raised its forecast.
Meanwhile, DineEquity, home of the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity breakfast at IHOP, topped Wall Street’s expectations due to lower costs, and better sales and more efficient staffing allowed outdoor gear retailer Cabela’s to post stronger-than-expected earnings.
On the other side of the tug-of-war, pessimists can point to VF Corp. The maker of such brands as the North Face, Vans, Wrangler and Lee missed analysts’ expectations and said consumer spending would remain challenged.
Starbucks cafes in the United States are handing out a limited number of coupon books designed to drive its cafe customers to grocery stores where the coffee chain’s ice cream, bottled drinks and coffee beans are sold.
“We started in the coffee aisle. But the other aisles got jealous. So now, we’re all over the grocery store,” reads the little brown book of coupons, available now in company-operated stores.
A higher percentage of people doubted the safety of supermarket food in 2008 compared to 2004, even as a larger, but steadier, number continue to have qualms about what they eat at restaurants, according to a study by market research firm NPD Group.
The study’s results come as U.S. consumers cut back on restaurant visits and head to stores to buy items toward cooking more meals at homes to save money.
The third-largest U.S. supermarket operator is setting up stations in its produce, meat and deli departments that feature the fixings for fast, easy, home-cooked meals that can feed a family of four for less than $15.