retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The New York Times this morning reports that a new report by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that while food prices have dropped in recent months, it is expected that they could start rising again as the economy recovers. “Over all,” the Times writes, “the Agriculture Department forecast that prices for what it calls ‘food at home,’ a category that includes purchases at grocery stores, convenience stores and farmers’ markets, will rise 2 to 3 percent this year.

• VeriFone Holdings announced that RBS WorldPay has agreed to work jointly and expeditiously towards marketing VeriFone’s VeriShield Protect end-to-end solution for encrypting payment card data. RBS WorldPay is the first merchant acquirer to endorse a commercial end-to-end encryption solution. By encrypting the card number on swipe, right at the point of sale, RBS WorldPay merchants who choose the VeriShield Protect solution will be able to dramatically reduce both their own risk and that of their customers as well.

• In Australia, The Age reports that Woolworths’ is getting into the hardware sector via a takeover bid for Danks Holdings, which owns or supplies more than a thousand hardware stores, that it is making in concert with the US-based Lowe’s home improvement chain. The move would put Woolworths’ into even greater competition with Wesfarmers, with which it competes in the supermarket business and also owns the Bunnings hardware chain.

Reuters reports that the UK’s J. Sainsbury supermarket group plans to hire as many as 20,000 people for seasonal jobs during the end-of-year holiday season – almost twice as many as it hired last year during the same period. The job creation is in contrast with rising unemployment rates in the UK, as a number of supermarket chains in the country are able to bring on staff.
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