retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to one of Friday’s stories, MNB user Craig Espelien wrote:

I agree with your notion that it is a bit suspect that 90% of consumers will pay more for green products.  This is something called “The Research Trap” – it maps consumer actions to what they say they will do which is rarely the case when it comes to spending more money for a somewhat suspect claim.  Like organics, there is a small niche of the population who will pay more for this type of product – but 90% of the consumers – the mainstream consumer – actually only aspire to do as they say.  When they vote with their pocketbooks, it is usually to save a few shekels rather than live the altruistic lifestyle.

Last week, we took note of a Chicago Sun Times report about a market survey done by Scott Mushkin, managing director at New York-based Jefferies & Co, suggesting that Supervalu has raised its prices by six percent at its Jewel-Osco stores since it announced last spring that it was lowering the prices on thousands of items.

Ironically - or maybe not - the Jefferies report notes that the company’s profits have gone up at the same time as prices).

And I commented:

Supervalu may feel pressure to look good to the Wall Street community, which may be part of the reason that prices have gone up ... But you have to decide at some point whether you are going to look good on Main Street or look good to Wall Street. At some point, I suggested, it begins to look like the retailer is playing a shell game.

One MNB user wrote:

I have spoken with people at other SV retail banners such as Farm Fresh, Shaws, Acme who have all had experiences where prices have been raised to the point that they are no longer competitive. One of these banners who was higher than all competitors had just completed a price reduction program and when the margins began to dip, they were told to increase the prices and discuss the economic issues as a reason. Previous management, new management- same Albertson’s philosophy….raise prices, make money on the buy, consolidate centralize- cookie cutter stores from CA to FL…. You’d think they would have learned the first time.

One MNB user was less than impressed with Supervalu:

Last night my wife went out, after a long day, to pick up a few things for lunch today.  She came back after about 45 minutes which was strange because we have a fairly new Shaw’s about ¼ mile from the house.  She was so pissed about the prices she drove 2 miles down the road to a new Super Wal-Mart.

I find it hard to believe that in this economic climate, with so much uncertainty for so many; a company would raise prices so noticeably.  It’s just really dumb!!! I predict the Shaw’s will be closed in a matter of months which is very unfortunate for EVERYONE!

And another MNB user chimed in:

You are correct-it’s a shell game. And it’s being played by Kroger and Safeway as well. They target the top 500 items in the store and lower the price, but take the price up on the remaining SKU’s to make up for the margin hit.

We continue to get emails responding to last week’s piece about men not paying enough attention to women, which means that they often to a lousy job of marketing to them.

One MNB user wrote:

I have been in the Produce Industry(fresh produce suppliers to retail) for 25 years. As a woman, a continuing minority in the industry, I can vouch that the men in the industry do not listen to what women what. Which is ironic considering that women buy 93% of all fresh products at retail.

MNB user Jim Hrovat wrote:

Great comment!  I must be a hell of a communicator. I'm a man and the father of seven children and 95% of my friends are women. I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way!
KC's View: