retail news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC reports that “consumer spending, once the driving force of the U.S. economy, is likely to remain stagnant for years as households struggle to cut debt and build up savings, economists say.

“According to a recent study from the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income (wages and salaries only) remains at a staggering 154 percent, which is only 7.5 percentage points lower than in pre-recession peak ... Until consumers repair their balance sheets, they are unlikely to increase spending and to take on any new debt even with interest rates close to zero percent.

“That could continue to hamper the recovery since consumer demand makes up more than 70 percent of the U.S. economy.”

Food Safety News reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has unveiled the Retail Food Safety Action Plan, which “calls for several steps intended to strengthen state and local food safety requirements at grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other food vending facilities, as well as to improve the oversight of food facilities by public health agencies. Specifically, the plan calls on these health departments to strengthen food safety requirements and ensure better training programs for personnel.”

• The Boston Globe reports that the $2.8 billion sale of BJ’s Wholesale Club to private equity firms Leonard Green & Partners and CVC Capital Partners has been completed.

• Catalina announced at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) convention that it is expanding its nationwide point-of-sale media network into convenience stores, following a successful pilot program with technology partner, Outsite Networks.   The Catalina Network is a targeted consumer communication system, currently located at checkout in more than 26,000 retail grocery, drug and mass outlets throughout the United States.
Catalina said that it “has been piloting C-store brand building programs over the past year in nearly 500 stores using a system that was specially designed for the channel.  It features a consumer-facing printer that can rapidly issue relevant promotional messages and coupon offers directly to consumers based on their individual purchase behavior.”

Catalina said that its in-store pilot survey confirmed 79% of customers liked getting Catalina coupons, that 85 percent of men and 75 percent of women visit a convenience store at least four times in an average month, and that there are 145,000 convenience stores in the US generating $511 billion in sales revenue annually - all god reasons, Catalina said, to get into the c-store business.

• The Chicago Sun Times reports that all four of the Windy City’s well-known Moo & Oink meat stores have been closed down, the company is in bankruptcy, and creditors are hoping to be able to sell off the company’s assets even as “a group of mostly African-American investors is working to purchase Moo & Oink intact.”

Moo & Oink has been doing business in Chicago for 150 years.
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