retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Los Angeles Times this morning reports that “with the nation's unemployment rate still high and the economy sluggish, a growing number of people are giving food this holiday season. But it's not fruitcake, eggnog or Christmas cookies. Instead, the quiet voice of frugality is prompting consumers to wrap up baskets of kitchen staples, boxes of meat and grocery store gift cards to help loved ones stock dwindling pantries.”

• Kroger-owned Turkey Hill Minit Markets “is expanding into central Indiana. The convenience store chain opened its first Indianapolis store in October and plans to add at least five more by the end of 2011,” according to a report in the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Dow Jones reports that Tesco is partnering with Safeway-owned Blackhawk Network to install gift card kiosks in some 600 UK stores.

• The BBC reports that over the past two years in the UK, as there was significant government attention to what some people saw as unrestrained and anti-competitive growth by the nation’s top four supermarket chains, at least 577 new stores were approved for building - 480 of them to be built by Tesco, Walmart-owned Asda, Sainsbury and William Morrison Supermarkets.

The debate, however, continues, as the BBC writes, “Campaigners say the stores are putting independent traders out of business. But the supermarkets say they provide thousands of jobs, and are supported by their customers.”

Dow Jones reports that Tesco is acquiring Czech convenience stores Zabka and Koruna from the Penta Investments private equity firm for the equivalent of $53 million (US). The deal includes close to 130 stores in the X=Czech Republic, but not more than 2,000 c-stores owned by Penta in Poland.
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