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Report: P&G pulls Tide Basic out of test markets

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI Nearly one year after it debuted in test markets, it seems that Procter & Gamble is pulling the plug on Tide Basic until further notice.

P&G was testing the Tide product — which costs 20% less than its predecessor — in small markets as a way to keep budget-strapped customers from defecting to store brands and other cheaper competitors during the recession, the Associated Press reported. Tide Basic was one of several product innovations that P&G developed for such reasons.

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PriceGrabber.com survey reveals consumers’ back-to-school shopping habits

BY Allison Cerra

LOS ANGELES Consumers may be tightening their wallets this year, but saving on back-to-school purchases is not necessarily a priority.

In a survey conducted by PriceGrabber.com between May 12 and June 1, respondents said they do not plan to save for back-to-school shopping this year but are starting their shopping early and spending the same amount as they did last year. When back-to-school shoppers were asked when they planned to begin saving for purchases this year, 64% of 1,718 online consumers polled said that they are not planning to save, while 19% of consumers started saving before April and 17% started saving between April and July.

“We are not surprised to see this new, optimistic trend of consumer frugality extend to back-to-school shopping,” stated Laura Conrad, president of PriceGrabber.com. “Further analysis of the data supports the idea that consumers are trying to absorb back-to-school spending in their monthly budgets by starting their shopping early to distribute their purchases.”

When asked what period of time they shop before the new school year begins, 26% of back-to-school shoppers planned to make purchases before July, while 31% planned to begin their shopping in July and 38% planned to start in August.

“The data is clear that consumers are still focused on spending the same amount or less on back-to-school purchases this year, even with the expected lift in the recession,” said Barbary Brunner, chief marketing officer at PriceGrabber.com. “However, instead of saving a little bit each month for back-to-school shopping and then making their purchases at once, we are seeing consumers engage in layaway-like behavior by purchasing a few items each month.”

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Despite sales drop, Rite Aid’s business will see ‘significant positive impact’

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Wednesday reported a revenue decline of 2.1% to $6.4 billion, for the first quarter ended May 29. The results reflect a move in the right direction, Rite Aid officials contended, and that momentum should build along with some of the initiatives Rite Aid currently is putting into play.

“During the quarter, we made excellent progress on our initiatives,” stated John Standley, Rite Aid president and COO, who officially took the reigns as the chain’s CEO Wednesday. “We nationally launched our new Wellness+ customer loyalty program, began immunization training that will more than triple the number of Rite Aid pharmacists able to provide vaccinations and introduced the first products in our revamped private-brand program into the stores,” he said. “We expect these sales initiatives, along with the continued rollout of our segmentation strategy, to have a significant positive impact on our business long term.”

“Our team continued to improve operational efficiency to help offset the challenging economic and competitive environment impacting sales and margin,” added Mary Sammons, Rite Aid chairman and CEO. “We increased adjusted EBITDA as a percent of sales, [and] at the same time improved customer satisfaction ratings on both the front end and in the pharmacy. Our liquidity position remained strong, which is critically important if the economy continues to be slow to recover.”

Same-store sales for the quarter decreased 1% over the prior year’s 13-week period, consisting of a 1.3% decrease in the front end and a 0.9% decrease in pharmacy. Pharmacy sales included an approximate 138 basis point negative impact from new generic introductions. The number of prescriptions filled in same stores decreased 1.7% over the prior-year period. Prescription sales accounted for 68.3% of total drug store sales and third-party prescription revenue was 96.3% of pharmacy sales.

In the first quarter, the company opened two new stores, relocated eight stores, remodeled one store and closed 15 stores. Stores in operation at the end of the first quarter totaled 4,767.

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