Retailers, consumers and prices
Check out rising prices even at Wal-Mart.
Pressures created by rising costs have caused even the world’s largest retailer, known for its ”rollback” discounts, to boost the prices that consumers pay for groceries.
Wal-Mart Stores raised average prices on supermarket items by about 6 percent in a month, according to a recent J.P. Morgan study in Virginia that compared the prices of 31-item goods sold at its supercenters, and at supermarket rivals Kroger, Safeway, Harris Teeter and Whole Foods.
Specifically, the study found that prices at a supercenter in Virginia rose 5.8 percent, the most significant sequential increase since JP Morgan started price comparisons in January 2009.
While the world’s largest retailer remains the cheapest among supermarkets, rivals such as Kroger and Safeway are gaining ground, according to J.P. Morgan.
Rising costs of raw materials and oil are pressuring companies to pass on costs to consumers with higher prices.
Indeed, clothes makers such as Nike, VF Corp and Hanesbrands are facing the same conundrum. And British baker Greggs said soaring wheat prices were set to push up costs, emphasizing a theme that may be repeated for such food makers as General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft and Sara Lee.
However, the timing is not good as the state of the U.S. economy is still uncertain and unemployment remains stubbornly high, leading many consumers to still be wary about spending. U.S. retailers in July posted weaker-than-expected sales despite increased discounting.
Also in the basket:
Check out the strong earnings results from several companies in the consumer sector.
PepsiCo reported a rise in fourth-quarter earnings in line with expectations, stronger-than-expected sales and maintained its full-year outlook. The maker of Pepsi drinks and Frito-Lay snacks said the volume of snacks sold rose 1 percent, while beverage volume fell by the same amount.
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.
Despite the credit crunch and weak U.S. economy VF Corp went shopping again.
The company, once known for functional brands like Wrangler, Lee, Eastpak and JanSport, said on Wednesday it acquired a one-third interest in Mo Industries, owner of the Splendid and Ella Moss brands.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, beyond saying that it valued the brands at close to 7.5 times expected 2008 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.