retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Published reports say that Procter & Gamble plans to sell or spin off as many as 100 of its brands, reducing its portfolio to 65 brands by summer 2015. At this point, reports say, it already has made deals to divest 35 of those extraneous brands.

The company has said that these divestitures will likely result in a 14 percent sales decline, but that focusing on 65 core brands will allow it to build margins and profitability.

USA Today reports that "retirees are keeping fewer foods in their kitchens than folks their age did a decade ago," a new study from NPD Group says.

"People ages 65 and older have an average of 221 food items in their pantries, refrigerators and freezers," the story says.That's down from 244 in 2005, according to a survey of all the foods and beverage on hand in 2,900 households ... By comparison, people ages 25 to 34 have an average of 188 food items, a number that has remained about the same over the past few years."

In part, this may be the economy kicking in - people have less disposable income at any given time, so they're buying less. They also are not products of the Depression, so they don't feel compelled to have lots of food on hand. In addition, the story says, "retirees are eating out more. Those over the age of 65 bought an average of 193 meals each at restaurants last year, up from 171 in 2009."

Reuters has a story saying that "McDonald's Corp and its franchisees may have few options but to begin raising hourly wages as an improving U.S. economy creates competition for good workers and as mega-employer Wal-Mart Stores Inc sets a higher bar on pay, according to labor experts."

Of course, the story also points out that this may be hard to do because McDonald's, especially, is in a period of stagnant sales, which means it can't or won't raise prices to cover increased labor costs. In addition, McDonald's says, it can't set wages for franchises, which represent roughly 90 percent of its US store fleet.
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