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    Published on: June 18, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    The Associated Press writes that a new report from the Agriculture Department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion says that a middle-income family with a child born last year will spend about $235,000 "in child-related expenses from birth through age 17. That’s a 3.5 percent increase from 2010."

    The story says that housing is the biggest percentage of those costs; it is most expensive to raise children in the urban Northeastern US.

    The costs do not include college ... which these days can be between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, or more.

    But the real message may be this. If you'e going to have children, you'd better start saving immediately. Or go into it with blissful ignorance and enthusiasm, and not worry about it too much.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    Once again, Walmart appears to be on the wrong side of a public relations misstep.

    What happened was this. A woman named Stephanie Harnett attended a closed press conference being held by a pro-labor group in Los Angeles that is opposing the building of a new store in Chinatown by the retailer. But Harnett is not a journalist, though she represented herself to be a student reporter from USC. No, she is a public relations executive with the firm representing Walmart in its efforts to get a building permit to open that new store.

    According to various published reports, Walmart condemned Harnett's actions as being “contrary to our values and the way we do business," and the PR firm, Mercury Public Affairs,said that her actions were "in no way approved, authorized, or directed by Wal-Mart or Mercury," and that she no longer worked for the company.

    However, in one interesting little side note, it is reported by Time that the same tactic has been used in the past by at least one other PR firm employed by Walmart.
    KC's View:
    As PR scandals go, this one ranks pretty low on the Richter scale, IMHO. In fact, the thing that surprises me is that anyone would want to pose as a journalist and run the risk of being sullied by the profession.

    The only thing worse would be posing as a Congressman.

    That said, the folks at Walmart and Mercury should simply apologize and walk away. And then look at each other and say, "Forget it. It's Chinatown."

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    In Toronto, the Globe and Mail reports that as Unilever Canada tries to rejuvenate its Knorr brand, it will put almost a total focus on in-store marketing of various kinds, "while ditching television, radio, digital and other media ads."

    These in-store options - which include displays, signs, samplings and chef appearances - reflect, the paper suggests, "the growing importance of in-store pitches at a time when trumpeting a message in other media is becoming increasingly fragmented. It underlines the urgency among suppliers to win back some control over the store aisle from retailers, who call the shots not only on product placement but also marketing and merchandise offerings. In an uncertain economy, consumer product titans feel a growing pressure to find new ways for their inventory to stand out from merchants’ own private labels, which get prime shelf space."

    The Globe and Mail notes that this move by Unilever reflects a broader trend, with the Path to Purchase Institute projecting that 56 percent of CPG companies plan to increase their in-store spend for product marketing support.
    KC's View:
    I'm not sure that I entirely believe the stats that some people use to suggest how many decisions are made in-store, as opposed to before going to the store. That said, without casting doubt on Unilever's decision, I'm not sure that these days there is such a difference between in-store and out-of-store ... after all, these days, we carry stuff from outside the store with us as we walk into the store, and when we are outside the store, we can access the store at any time.

    The lines are not drawn as thickly as they used to be.

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    The Denver Business Journal reports that Safeway plans to expand its "Just for U" into the Mile High City.

    The program "delivers digital coupons and personalized discount offers to customers with Safeway Club Card customer-loyalty accounts, based on their shopping history. Shoppers use their card to access the offers. They also can use the system to create digital shopping lists that they can carry on a mobile device."

    The program also links coupons to shoppers' loyalty cards and track usual purchases for future grocery lists. Using that historical information, it offers personalized discounts that shoppers can use in tandem with manufacturers' coupons. The program is available online or through smartphones."

    It was just a month ago that Safeway announced it was expanding Just For U" into the Oregon market.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    The Federal Trade Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of fifteen supermarkets by Ahold-owned Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Pennsylvania,from Genuardi's Family Markets, a subsidiary of Safeway in the Philadelphia area.

    Under the terms of a consent order approved by the Federal Trade Commission, the Genuardi's located in Newtown, Pennsylvania must be sold to an unrelated third party. This store will be purchased by Newtown Market, LLC and will be operated as a McCaffrey's supermarket.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    • The Boston Globe reports that Walmart is "abandoning efforts to build a grocery market in Somerville and a big-box store in Watertown, saying the projects no longer make financial sense."

    According to the story, "The Arkansas chain had not yet submitted formal plans for either store to the two towns, but its proposals had split members of those communities. In Somerville, Walmart wanted to open a Neighborhood Market, a small grocery on the site of a former Circuit City store on Mystic Avenue at the edge of Assembly Square shopping district. In Watertown, the retailer was looking to construct a 90,000 square-foot Supercenter on Arsenal Street."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    Internet Retailer reports that "global business-to-consumer e-commerce sales will pass the 1 trillion euro ($1.25 trillion) mark by 2013, and the total number of Internet users will increase to approximately 3.5 billion from around 2.2 billion at the end of 2011, according to a new report by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), a U.K. online retail trade organization.

    "The study estimates that business-to-consumer e-commerce sales in 2011 increased to 690 billion euros ($961 billion), an increase of close to 20% from a year earlier."
    KC's View:
    Y'know, this internet thing may actually have legs.

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    Reuters reports that fine wine prices are experiencing a "steep drop" of between 25 and 40 percent. The story says that this decline makes fine wine a good investment, though experts say it should "make up no more than 5 percent or 10 percent of a portfolio."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    ...will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 18, 2012

    On the final day of the US Open, Webb Simpson came from four strokes back to win his third tour victory and first major title.
    KC's View: