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Welcome to a new week. It's only October, but the holiday season is already kicking off. Amazon and Walmart are set to hold fall deals events to help get a head start on deals, and give the early birds even more reason to shop. Check out what’s on tap in a busy week for commerce below:
- Parcel Forum 2022:In Chicago, the supply chain conference gathers B2C and B2B shippers, with a focus on those delivering for ecommerce brands in areas like fulfillment, delivery, rates and more. Oct. 10-12
- Prime Early Access Sale: Get ready for Prime Day, part 2. Amazon is holding a two-day deals event with savings, and a curated Top 100 list of top giftable products. It’s the first run for the fall Prime event, so we’ll be watching closely to see how brands and sellers fare. Oct. 11-12
- Rollbacks and More: Walmart is rolling out its own two-day deals event alongside the Prime extravaganza. It has already announced deals on toys, air fryers, luggage and more. Oct. 10-13
- Trada Holiday Market: Trada, the recently-launched B2B marketplace from Quickbooks, is holding an event to allow retailers and suppliers to connect ahead of the holidays to source unique items. The small business-focused event allows suppliers to run promotions across its catalog, and Quickbooks will match discounts up to 10%.
Inflation and retail sales put consumer behavior in focus this week:
- Producer Price Index: The US Commerce Department's measure of the change in wholesale prices for September will offer a look at inflation upstream ahead of Thursday’s closely-watched announcement. Wed., Oct. 12, 8:30 a.m.
- Consumer Price Index: The monthly reading from the US Labor Department will show whether inflation is continuing to run at 40-year highs, or if a cooling is being detected following three straight interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. A key question: Are food and shelter inflation coming down after being elevated last month? Thurs, Oct. 13, 8:30 a.m.
- Retail sales: Following inflation comes a look at whether people are continuing to spend in the face of rising prices. Retail sales data from the US Commerce Department provides a look at the demand picture, and offer a crucial measure of the consumer heading into the holidays. Fri., Oct. 14, 8:30 a.m.
- Consumer sentiment: The University of Michigan offers its first reading of consumer sentiment for the month. This metric was unchanged in September, remaining at low levels amid uncertainty and inflation. Fri., Oct. 14, 10 a.m.
The cycle begins anew as third quarter earnings season kicks off this week. Corporate executives will provide an updated look at the economic picture through the end of September.
- Tues., Oct. 11: Artizia
- Wed., Oct 12: PepsiCo
- Thurs., Oct. 13: Walgreens Boots Alliance, Prologis, Domino’s Pizza, Goldman Sachs
- Fri, Oct. 14: JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp
Trending in Economy
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.