retail news in context, analysis with attitude

USA Today reports on what it says is proof positive that people are becoming far more price conscious when it comes to buying food:

• “Whole Foods, the upscale grocer, now loudly touts weekly sales.”

• “Starbucks, home to the $4 caramel macchiato, now also boasts brewed coffee for about $1.50.”

• “Morton's steakhouse now sells three mini-burgers at its bar for $5.”

More evidence: “Three years ago, 48% of consumers bought most products on sale. Today, it's 53%, says NPD Group, a retail market researcher. Last year, nearly seven in
10 consumers shopped in a discount, big-volume or off-price store, compared with five in 10 three years ago, NPD says.”
KC's View:
Wait a minute. Morton’s sells three mini-burgers for $5?

I know where I’m going for lunch one of these days...

Seriously, though...while the USA Today story would seem to be a restatement of the obvious, in fact it is...well, a restatement of the obvious.

What is not so obvious is the long-term implication. Clearly this recession is going to have a hangover. Many people will be operating out of a recessionary mindset long after the recession is over. (Not everyone, though. There will be Goldman Sachs execs who will be trying to figure out how to spend their seven and eight figure bonuses even as the nation tries to dig out of a 10 percent unemployment hole. C’est la vie.

I continue to believe that while price will remain important, the real winners in the long term will be the retailers that have something else to offer ... some sort of differential advantage beyond a sharp price.