retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The National Retail Federation (NRF) said this week that it expects a decline in Easter spending, with respondents in a survey saying they plan to spend $137.46 on clothing, food, candy and gifts, down from $145.13 spent in 2013.

Part of the reason may be that fewer people plan to celebrate the holiday - 80 percent of survey respondents, down from 83 percent a year ago.

• The Los Angeles Times reports that Manischewitz, the largest maker of matzo and other kosher foods, has been sold to Sankaty Advisors, a division of Bain Capital LLC. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to the story, "Sankaty Advisors is expected to revamp the company's strategy and emphasize the kosher designation of food Manischewitz produces as a sign of its quality." The goal is to get its products into supermarkets' ethnic and specialty foods aisles, and not have it relegated just to kosher aisles.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that while some analysts believe that Coca-Cola should respond to stagnant sales growth in the soft drink category by diversifying into other segments and reducing its reliance on soda, "instead, the Atlanta-based company plans to double down on its namesake brand. The company is boosting advertising, introducing new products, and using singer Taylor Swift as a pitchwoman. Chief Executive Muhtar Kent has said that last year, when Coke's U.S. soda volume dropped 2%, was an anomaly. Soda can return to healthy growth, even in the U.S., especially if it is a brand name like Coke, he said."
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