retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Wall Street Journal reports that CEOs in a wide variety of companies - ranging from Starbucks to Pernod Ricard to OfficeMax - are struggling with the issue of when they can raise prices. A number of executives, the story notes, are facing increased costs, but recognize that shoppers are extremely price-sensitive.

"The concern right now is that we would drive more people away than what we gain from the price increase," says Michael Mack, CEO of the Garden Fresh Restaurant chain.

• The New York Times reports this morning that the Chinese government has imposed steep tariffs - of up to 105 percent - on poultry imports from the United States, saying that “the tariffs reflected the result of its own antidumping investigation, which looked at whether the United States was harming China’s poultry industry by exporting chicken parts for less than it cost to produce them.”

The tariffs, the Times writes, “are another example of China’s willingness to use its economic leverage when it feels it is being challenged.” US government officials say they are “disappointed” by the decision and are looking at international rules and regulations for possible remedies.

• The Indianapolis Star reports that “shoppers of discount grocer Aldi are learning this week that a security flaw at the chain is leading to sporadic instances of theft from their bank accounts. Aldi posted a notice Sept. 17 on its website that a limited number of debit card terminals at some stores ‘may have been compromised’ through tampering designed to steal customer’s payment card information.”
• Unilever Plc reportedly is near a deal to acquire Alberto Culver Co., according to the Wall Street Journal, which says that Culver “may be valued at as much as $4 billion with a typical take-over premium of 20 percent to 30 percent.”

• Reports are that Lifeway Foods is acquiring First Juice Inc., which makes kefir dairy drinks, for $220,000.
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