retail news in context, analysis with attitude

“This is a different economy. We are definitely seeing average sales (per customer) going down," Stew Leonard Jr., president and chief executive officer, told the Westport Rotary Club last week, according to a story by the Stamford Advocate. "People aren't spending as much per purchase, but our customer count is going up."

The paper writes that “in response to a downturn in the sale of large packages of file mignon steaks -- the most expensive cuts in the meat department -- Stew's butchers have reduced the sizes, and sales have improved. ‘We're making packages pocketbook-friendly,’ said Leonard, who noted that presentation and packaging can create a more user-friendly environment for cash-strapped shoppers.

Leonard also told the meeting that “he has seen a change in consumers' shopping habits at the company's seven wine stores. ‘The stuff that's really selling is everything under $20. That's where the market is," he said.

One other impact of the recession: Stew Leonard’s has put any expansion plans beyond its current four stores on hold.
KC's View:
The point that Stew Leonard made in his speech is one that MNB has been emphasizing since the beginning of the recession – that even in the economic downturn, aspirational customers have not lost their aspirations…it is just that they have to make harder choices. Retailers that can help them resolve their issues – saving money while fulfilling desires – are the ones that will be long-term winners.