retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Seattle Times reports that "the Conference Board said Thursday that its consumer confidence index increased in October to 72.2. That's up from a revised 68.4 in September and the highest reading since February 2008, two months into the Great Recession."

According to the story, "Consumers were more confident after seeing better job growth, the report noted. Hiring in July and August was stronger than first thought, and employers added a modest 114,000 jobs in September, the government reported last month ... The report noted that consumers are more optimistic about both the economy and job market now and where it is headed in the next six months."

Chicago Journal reports on how the eighth Mariano's Fresh Market store in Illinois has opened in Chicago's West Loop, with yet another one on the way in the South Loop - despite the fact that these are "areas that are already served by grocery stores — and more are being added all the time."

Bob Mariano, CEO of parent company Roundy’s, tells the paper that "there’s plenty of demand to justify their new stores. Their research, he said, shows that people are still leaving the neighborhoods to get their grub. Partly, it’s because so many people have moved into the areas around downtown so quickly that infrastructure like stores just didn’t have a chance to keep up ... The new Mariano’s stores, he said, may be siphoning off some business from Jewel, Dominick’s and other traditional stores that exist in the neighborhood, but they’re also drawing more business in by offering a wider range of products. That includes cushy options like a sushi bar, a much larger selection of fresh seafood, a salad bar and a full coffee bar."

• The Los Angeles Times reports that Starbucks "plans to open 1,300 new stores worldwide in fiscal year 2013 – a 22% surge from this year. Already, the chain has 18,000 stores in 61 countries. About 600 of the new stops will be in the Americas, with most in the U.S. The Seattle coffee giant is also boosting its presence in the Asia Pacific region by 600 stores, with half in China."

• Publix said that its sales for the third quarter of 2012 were $6.7 billion, a 4.4 percent increase from last year's $6.4 billion, on same-store sales that were up 2.5 percent. Net earnings were 368.4 million, compared to $311.9 million in 2011, an increase of 18.1 percent.

Publix's sales for the first nine months of 2012 were $20.5 billion, a 3.9 percent increase from last year's $19.7 billion. Comparable-store sales for the first nine months of 2012 increased 2.6 percent. Net earnings for the first nine months of 2012 were $1.2 billion, compared to $1.1 billion in 2011, an increase of 6.1 percent.

• Kroger announced that "associates working at 80 of the company's Delta Division stores have ratified new labor agreements with UFCW Local 1529 ... The two contracts cover more than 9,040 associates working in 80 stores in West Tennessee, Mississippi, East Arkansas, and Murray, KY." Terms were not disclosed.
KC's View: