retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Archive Search

Please Note: Some MNB articles contain special formatting characters, and may cause your search to produce fewer results than expected.

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is out with a new report saying that every state in the country falls short of official recommendations for daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, with only one-third of adults eating enough fruit and 27 percent eating enough vegetables.

    The “State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2009” notes that there is a national goal to have “75 percent of Americans to eat at least 2 servings of fruit, and for 50 percent of Americans to eat at least 3 servings of vegetables daily.”

    The report also says that “the statistics are even worse for high school students - 32 percent of them report eating at least 2 fruit servings daily and 13 percent say they eat at least 3 vegetable servings each day. On average, only 9.5 percent of American adolescents consume at least 2 servings of fruit and at least 3 servings of vegetables each day.”

    While they are below targets, the 10 best states when it comes to fruit and vegetable consumption by adults are, in order, District of Columbia, Vermont, Maine, Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Arizona and California.

    The 10 worst states are Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, South Dakota, West Virginia, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri.
    KC's View:
    You can't help but notice that all the states where eating habits are better are either New England, Middle Atlantic or western states…and nine out of ten of the ones with the worst kind of nutritional deficits in their diets are south of the Mason Dixon line.

    Also interesting that seven of the 10 states with poor consumption of fruits and vegetables are so-called Red States, while eight of the 10 states with highest fruit and vegetable consumption are so-called Blue States.

    I wonder what would happen if you graphed out the political opinions in each of these states when it comes to public policy about the treatment of obesity issues, especially childhood obesity. Would the states with the worst record in terms of fruit and vegetable consumption be the most negative about a legislative or regulatory approach to obesity? And, conversely, would the states with the best numbers be more in favor of public policies that promote better eating habits? And where would these states come out when it comes to changed approaches to the health care bureaucracy?

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    The Conference Board said yesterday that its September Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 53.1, from 54.5 in August, a development that apparently surprised economists and analysts who were expecting an uptick in confidence.

    "Consumers remain quite apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news."

    The Conference Board’s index of how consumers view the current economic situation also dropped, from 25.4 to 22.7, as did the expectation index, from 73.8 to 73.3.
    KC's View:
    All of which illustrates a simple fact – that while some economists and politicians may be saying that the recession is “technically” over, such pronouncements won’t matter as long as consumers have a recession mindset. And it is going to take a lot longer for that to change … especially because unemployment figures continue to worsen, which actually should make the confidence numbers no surprise.

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Giant Eagle stores there has announced a new series of price cuts, as the chain “makes its case for being a part of the solution to household budget woes -- not part of the problem.”

    According to the story, “This is the chain's sixth round of price cuts this year … and follows five years of price tag trimming in other parts of the store that Giant Eagle claims add up to $240 million in customer savings on more than 15,000 items … In a recent company survey, officials found approximately 90 percent of customers use its sales circular at least once a month, with most using it weekly. They've also seen shoppers using more coupons, and they know that saving money is crucial to worried consumers.”

    The Columbus Dispatch writes that the cuts were a competitive imperative: “Giant Eagle this summer was among the major grocers - including Kroger, Walmart and Meijer - that reduced prices on certain staples such as milk and eggs.” And the Dispatch notes that “to promote the price reduction … Giant Eagle representatives are embarking on a 20-city tour, said spokesman Rob Borella. During the tour, members of its ‘Savings Squad’ will offer consumers tips on how to save, not only in the grocery store but on home energy costs and other personal-finance topics, he said.”

    While some of the competition suggests that all the price cuts mean that Giant Eagle was too high-priced all along, the chain argues that it has been pulling out all the stops to find ways to cut costs and prices: “Examples of ways the company found to cut costs include replacing coffee cups at corporate headquarters with cheaper ones,” the Post-Gazette writes. “Inventories have been reduced in the warehouses with better point-of-sale systems helping stores buy products more efficiently. The grocer changed in-store music suppliers.

    “About 80 positions were cut this summer at the headquarters and yesterday the company eliminated another 46 store-level human resources positions chainwide. Nine of those were in Pittsburgh-area stores. Even the purchase of a water bottling operation in Westmoreland County has helped by allowing Giant Eagle to serve as its own supplier.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    Internet Retailer has an interesting story about a new survey that it commissioned to determine which retailers are most talked-about in online social networking sites, and to what extent the conversation is positive.

    Amaon.com came out on top – a marriage of the world’s biggest Internet retailer and technology that makes this conversation possible – with 92 percent of the conversation being positive.

    Behind Amazon are Target (with 83 percent of the conversation being positive), IKEA (77 percent), Walmart (69 percent), Staples (79 percent), Nike (80 percent), Lowe’s (83 percent), Macy’s (84 percent), Borders (80 percent), Marshall’s (76 percent), and Costco (76 percent).
    KC's View:
    My first reaction to reading this story was that not one food retailer made the top 25.

    Except that, of course, there were several. Amazon sells food. As do Target, Walmart, and Costco. Even CVS, which came in further down the list of to 25, sells food.

    Which makes me wonder…if there is a kind of national conversation taking place over this technological back fence, why aren’t companies like Safeway and Kroger more a part of it? Is it that they are not sufficiently embracing social networking? Or is there something else going on that is keeping them out of the conversation…which, by the way, seems generally positive?

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    Brookshire Grocery Co. announced the acquisition of a 31,000-square-foot Minyard Food Store in Seagoville, Texas.

    According to the announcement, Brookshire will close its existing store in the market today, and reopen the old Minyard store under its own banner tomorrow. The new store, the company said, “will allow Brookshire’s to offer pharmacy services in Seagoville. It will feature Brookshire’s traditional grocery, market, produce, bakery and deli departments.”

    “We will continue to work hard to get the new store reset and ready to open with literally no interruption to business,” said Brookshire president/CEO Rick Rayford.

    Tyler, Texas-based Brookshire operates a total of 156 stores in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    The New York Times this morning reports on a new survey by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Berkeley, suggesting that two-thirds of Americans “object to online tracking by advertisers — and that number rises once they learn the different ways marketers are following their online movements.”

    Such tracking allows marketers to better target consumers who may be ripe for specific sales pitches.

    This is a hot political issue, with some pushing Congress and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate the tracking of online activities, and others hoping to fend off regulation with voluntary measures that they hoped would assuage critics.

    The Times writes, “Tailored ads in general did not appeal to 66 percent of respondents. Then the respondents were told about different ways companies tailor ads: by following what someone does on the company’s site, on other sites and in offline places like stores.

    “The respondents’ aversion to tailored ads increased once they learned about targeting methods. In addition to the original 66 percent that said tailored ads were ‘not O.K.,’ an additional 7 percent said such ads were not O.K. when they were tracked on the site. An additional 18 percent said it was not O.K. when they were tracked via other Web sites, and an additional 20 percent said it was not O.K. when they were tracked offline.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that Walmart “is expanding its lineup of $10 toys for the holiday season to more than 100 items. The move is the latest in an increasingly heated holiday toy battle as retailers race to attract frugal shoppers.

    “Wal-Mart said it had worked with its suppliers over the last year to offer an assortment of top brands, classic toys and newly released items for $10, including Barbie dolls and Transformers action figures.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    Reuters reports that the UK Takeover Panel has ruled that Kraft Foods has until November 9 to decide whether it wants to make an official offer for Cadbury. Kraft made an approach three weeks ago, offering $16.7 billion, which Cadbury rejected as insufficient, and the British company has said that it prefers to remain independent.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    • Walgreen Co. said that its fourth quarter profit was down two percent compared to the same period a year ago, to $436 million from $443 million. Q4 sales were up eight percent to $15.7 billion, on same-store sales that were up 2.4 percent.

    Annual profit was $2 billion, down from $2.16 billion last year, on annual sales of $63.34 billion, up from $59.03 billion a year ago.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 30, 2009

    …will return.
    KC's View: