retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The New York Times reports that while it isn’t even November yet, a number of chains suffering from “tepid sales” are already starting to publicize “Black Friday” specials that normally would be reserved for the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional beginning of the end-of-year holiday shopping season.

in fact, it isn’t just retailers like Walmart and Sears that are trying to reverse recent sales declines. In addition, retailers such as Amazon.com also are using the tactic - because they know they need to compete aggressively for the limited dollars that consumers have to spend this year.

• The Washington Post reports that “average retail prices of beef have climbed from $4.18 per pound in July 2009 to $4.44 per pound last July, a change largely due to a tight supply of cattle.” Prices are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future, the story suggests, because “ranchers and feedlots have reduced supplies in response in large part due to rising prices of corn and soybeans fed to cattle.”

In the long run, this could mean that other options - chicken, pork and fish - could pick up some market share in the short term, as US beef consumption lags because of economic concerns.

• ShopRite announced that it is adding what it calls “relevant and credible health & wellness content and health widgets” to its website, designed to “inform shoppers of the latest health recommendations, provide shopping ideas, and recommend products for health and wellness goals.”

The widget program was developed by Aisle 7.
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