retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• A new study commissioned by the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) says that "shoppers want more fresh food options and less work in the kitchen. Health also was cited as a high-level concern.

According to the report, "in deli, convenience was the number-one demand, with four in ten respondents opting for 'more items that can save me time at home.' Following closely, were 'more restaurant quality items' and 'heart healthy items, such as low sodium'." The report goes on: "In the dairy department, a better assortment topped shoppers’ desires, with 35% of survey respondents wanting to see more variety in general, and 38% saying they would like greater variety of cheeses in particular.

"When it came to the bakery, shoppers had an eye on freshness and health issues foremost, with 31% saying they would like more items baked on-site and 31% likewise opting for products containing 'less fructose, sugar, corn syrup and bad fats'."

Not surprisingly, considering the source of the study, a major beneficiary of these trends is private label: "More than half of respondents say that they buy more private label now than they did five years ago, and 44% of the survey say that they currently buy store brands either always or frequently. Frequency of buying is even higher in deli, dairy and bakery where it reached 47%."

Bloomberg reports that "MasterCard Inc. agreed to pay Tesco Plc $61 million as the U.K. retailer reached a settlement as part of a multi-billion dollar lawsuit over credit card fees ... Tesco sued MasterCard in 2014 to 'recover the historic overpayment of anti-competitive interchange fees. These proceedings have now been settled and discontinued on mutually acceptable terms,' a spokesperson for Cheshunt, England-based Tesco said in an e-mail."

The story goes on to say that "more than 20 U.K. retailers are suing MasterCard in London over the fees charged by the payments company in transactions using its credit and debit cards. MasterCard has filed responses to the remaining retailers’ claims in court."

Reuters reports that American Express is being sued by one of its shareholders, accused "of blindsiding investors with the loss of a crucial contract with Costco Wholesale Corp after having failed to reveal how significant that business had become.

In a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court, shareholder Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 137 Pension Fund sought class action status on behalf shareholders who suffered losses after the credit card company in February announced the end of its co-branding agreement with the warehouse club retailer."
KC's View: