All posts by María Carmen

About María Carmen

Maria Carmen is a contributing editor to our global business news, and handles the translations into Spanish of the articles considered of utmost importance to the Spanish speaking world.

Shoppers search for discounts in a strained economy

After two years of rising costs, Americans are becoming more cautious with their spending, prompting retailers to offer more discounts. In response, Target are reducing prices on groceries, and fast food establishments are introducing lower cost meals. Discount stores like Dollar General are attracting budget-conscious customers. CEO Todd Vasos noted that Dollar General shoppers are making tradeoffs, buying fewer items despite the store attracting more middle- and upper-income customers.

This financial strain is reflected in broader data as well. The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” reports consumers resisting further price hikes. Target recently reduced prices on 1,500 items with plans for more cuts. This cautious spending contrasts with last year’s robust expenditure, which kept the economy growing. Revised figures show the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.3% in the first quarter, down from the initially reported 1.6%, due to reduced consumer spending.

The slowdown continued in April, with consumer spending on goods falling 0.2%, according to the Commerce Department. However, spending on services like haircuts and event tickets increased, contributing to persistent inflation. Consumer prices rose 2.7% in April from a year ago, still above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.

Panera Bread to Phase out Charged Lemonade

Charged Lemonade, Panera Bread’s highly caffeinated beverage, is being phased out nationwide. Three current lawsuits link the drink to several health issues and two deaths. Fans of the drink are stocking up and finding ways to make their own charged lemonade at home. A spokesperson for Panera did not specify when all locations would stop selling the drink but denied any wrongdoing in response to the lawsuits.

Loyalty programs like Panera’s Unlimited Sip Club are effective in building a customer base by offering perceived value. Liz Parker from Michigan consumes Charged Lemonade daily and has stored several cups in her fridge and freezer. Similarly, Bruce Tarburton, a student at the University of Oregon, relied on the drink for its caffeine boost.

Despite the lawsuits, many loyal customers do not believe the drink poses a risk to their health. The lawsuits describe Charged Lemonade as a “dangerous energy drink,” with a large serving containing 390 milligrams of caffeine. The FDA states that 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is generally safe for healthy adults. In response to the lawsuits, Panera moved the drink behind the counter and updated its caffeine information.

Panera plans to introduce new beverages, including Blueberry Lavender Lemonade and Pomegranate Hibiscus Tea, following feedback from over 30,000 guests. However, it remains unclear whether these new drinks will contain caffeine. Some customers have reduced their consumption of Charged Lemonade due to the legal issues, while others continue to seek out their favorite drink before it’s gone for good.

Hershey Looks to Halloween to Boost Chocolate Sales

Hershey, the maker of popular candies like Reese’s, Kit Kat, and Twizzlers, is gearing up for Halloween sales. This year, it appears that customers are shopping for trick-or-treat candy closer to the holiday. Last year, due to supply chain and availability concerns, many customers bought their Halloween candy early. Although it’s too early to predict this year’s outcome, so far, Halloween candy sales have been slower than last year.

As Halloween approaches, Hershey is hoping for a strong performance this weekend to meet its sales targets. In recent years, Halloween has become a critical period for the company, accounting for 25-30% of its annual business.

Hershey is experiencing difficulties on several fronts. Cocoa prices are on the rise, supply chain issues have plagued the cocoa industry, and many consumers are now facing budget constraints and are more sensitive to pricing.

To cater to budget-conscious consumers, Hershey is expanding its presence in dollar stores and discount outlets. They are also exploring the option of selling smaller-sized candies at more affordable prices.

But Hershey executives remain positive that Halloween will bring the candy buying boom that the company needs. Last week, CEO Michele Buck said, “With Halloween next Tuesday, we still have several important selling days to go”.

Pizza Hut Teams Up with Turtles for Movie Promotion

In order to promote the August premier of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, Pizza Hut rekindled their decades old partnership with the TMNJ franchise to deliver a select number of pizzas in the New York City subway system. Children from the 80’s and 90’s are rejoicing in this nod towards their childhood, as they fondly remember the cartoon turtles, who are famous for enjoying pizza in the tunnels below the city.

According to Lindsay Morgan, Pizza Hut’s chief marketing officer, “Pizza Hut and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a longstanding history that goes back to the ’90s. Bringing the two together again for a new generation was a no-brainer… We wanted to pay homage to the Turtles’ origins and their love of pizza, while also infusing modern touchpoints and a fun, creative take on pizza deliveries”.

By texting a turtle emoji to a specified phone number, Pizza Hut customers could have their orders delivered to selected spots in subway stations. A YouTube Video explains the promo and documents the excitement of getting pizza delivered directly to your subway stop. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will be in theaters on August 2.

Egg Prices are Finally Returning to Normal

Between January 2022 and January 2023, the price of eggs increased by 70%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A severe and extended outbreak of the avian flu combined with higher production costs for farmers sent egg prices soaring to an unprecedented $5.30 per dozen in December 2022. Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently reported that the cost of a dozen eggs has since returned to roughly $1.00.

This dramatic change is a result of the waning of the avian flu and the fact that egg producers have been busy replacing hens. As of May 1, 2023, there were 387 million egg producing hens in the United States, which is a 5% increase over last year. Daniel Sumner, University of California, Davis agricultural economics professor, explained, “There are now more hens and more eggs on the market. That is, supply has increased, and prices have normalized”.  Sumner also predicted that, barring another flu outbreak, egg prices should remain moderate for the foreseeable future.