Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Wal-Mart Marketside test feels economic hit


castrowrightNot too long ago, U.S. grocers were sprinting to be the first to get smaller stores up and running. Not any more.

Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said the world’s biggest retailer is taking its time testing its convenience store-sized Marketside grocery stores, due to the economy.

“We’re pleased with it, but at this point in time given the current condition in the marketplace … we are not accelerating that effort until we have better data to make a decision,” Castro-Wright told reporters after the retailer’s annual meeting.

 In October, Wal-Mart officially opened four Marketside stores in the Phoenix area. The stores cater to shoppers who are looking for ready-to-eat meals and fresh produce, and might not have time for a trip to a full-scale grocery store.

A look at Fresh & Easy


Reuters recently visited several Los Angeles-area Fresh & Easy stores for a story that ran this week.

Here are some shots from the city’s store in Redondo Beach.









Parking lot at 9:30 Sunday morning.








All registers are self service.









A typical aisle.









Bread aisle.









Meat selection.



















Trader Joe’s lot next door.

(Photos: Lisa Baertlein)

Check Out Line: Losses in toyland


USA/Check Out the losses at Mattel, the world’s biggest toy company.

The maker of Barbie said its first-quarter loss widened and CEO Robert Eckert said Mattel would keep controlling costs as tough market conditions test the resilience of toy companies.

But one area where Mattel has not scrimped is on its worldwide campaign to spotlight Barbie, its 50-year-old flagship doll, which has suffered months of weak sales as children’s taste in toys change.