FINANCE

U.S. consumer spending stalls in May

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — A report released Monday by the Commerce Department showed that consumer spending unexpectedly stalled during the month of May, as prices climbed and 9.1% unemployment caused shoppers to cut back.

Commerce Department figures showed that purchases were flat in May, after a median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 0.1% gain. Prices excluding food and energy rose more than forecast.

“The quarter is going to be very slow,” Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York, told Bloomberg. “The biggest explanation for that is gas prices, so obviously the fact that oil has fallen quite a bit in the last couple of weeks is a really good thing. Relief just in time.”

Unemployment rose to 9.1%, the highest this year, as previously reported by the Labor Department.

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FINANCE

Carrefour receives offer to merge with Brazilian retailer

BY Staff Writer

New York City — Multiple reports on Tuesday said that French retailing giant Carrefour SA has received an offer to merge with Brazil’s Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao.

Brazilian investment fund Gama said in a statement that it proposed a merger between Carrefour, the world’s second largest retailer by sales after Wal-Mart Stores, and CBD, a local retailing giant.

The deal would elevate CBD to Carrefour’s biggest investor. It also reflects a power struggle, as Groupe Casino — a noted rival to Carrefour — controls CBD through a joint venture with chairman Abilio Diniz. Casino was set to assume full control of CBD, parent of the Pao de Acucar chain, next year. Casino called the reported deal "hostile" and "illegal."

The deal, however, would catapult Carrefour to a market-leading position in Brazil, where its business has diminished in recent years. Under the terms of the deal, Gama will first offer to merge with CBD and, if accepted and approved by Casino, would then combine with Carrefour Brazil. In exchange for 50% of the new company, Carrefour would do a capital increase, giving Gama an 11.7% stake in Carrefour. Gama would also obtain Carrefour’s vice-chairmanship and three board seats starting in two years.

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FINANCE

Report: Store brands show sales increases across the board

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — The Private Label Manufacturing Association reported Tuesday that store brands have capped a decade of strong growth by posting sales increases across all three of the major retail channels in 2010 and pushing dollar market share to new all-time highs in supermarkets, drug stores and total outlets.

According to PLMA’s 2011 Private Label Yearbook, which tracks private label sales and market share trends based on data from The Nielsen Co., in supermarkets, store brands advanced to 19.1% in dollar share and unit share was 23.5%. In drug stores, store brands moved up in dollar share to 14.7% and recorded unit share of 16.2%.

For total outlets, store brands dollar share rose to 17.4%, while unit share came in at 21.8%.

Taking a broader view of the 2010 performance, store brand sales increased by nearly 2% in total outlets — comprised of U.S. supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, including Wal-Mart — while dollar share advanced by almost half a point to a new record level. Overall, sales were $88.5 billion, another all-time high, according to Nielsen.

In supermarkets, store brands sales increased by $1.2 billion and accounted for 100% of the growth in the channel, even offsetting a sales drop of -$149 million by national brands. The picture was much the same in drug stores, where store brands dollar sales increased by $300 million, comprising 60% of all incremental revenue in the channel.

In total outlets, private label was up $1.5 billion while national brands were down $4.6 billion.

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