February 28, 2024

Public companies use earnings calls to share information about their recent performance with shareholders and the media. News from these announcements rarely leaves the confines of the business press, but that was not the case yesterday when social media users heard an earnings call comment about the fast food chain Wendy’s. CEO Kirk Tanner mentioned that the company was planning to test “more enhanced features like dynamic pricing and day-part offerings along with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling.”

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February 16, 2024

Last week, we looked at how food prices have remained high even as inflation falls in other areas of the economy. Not only are many consumers struggling to pay their grocery bills, but rent has also become a major financial strain on millions of people. Housing costs skyrocketed in the years after the pandemic, with average U.S. rent growing by more than 15 percent in 2022. According to a recent report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, half Continue reading

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February 7, 2024

American consumers first encountered rising prices shortly after the pandemic, when supply chain problems and labor shortages sent costs soaring for all sorts of goods. Fortunately, prices have finally started to fall again for products like appliances, used cars, and gasoline as well as services like health insurance. Still, inflation has not decreased evenly across the board, and the prices for some goods remain stubbornly high. Perhaps the clearest example of increasing costs occurs at the grocery store, where food Continue reading

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January 19, 2024

The German company Aldi is the fastest growing grocery chain in the U.S., expanding at a rate of about 100 stores a year. The following video explains how Aldi keeps prices low by stocking a limited number of products and designing stores for maximum efficiency. 

Questions:

  1. How do Aldi’s store layouts help the company keep expenses low?
  2. Why does Aldi stock significantly fewer products than most supermarkets?
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December 1, 2023

The Chinese e-commerce giant Shein (pronounced Shee-In) controls more than 40 percent of the U.S. fast fashion market, with more than $8 billion in sales last year. This video explores how the retailer consistently churns out cheap shirts and dresses, which includes accusations of labor exploitation that has tarnished Shein’s image with some shoppers.

Questions:

  1. How does Shein’s “small batch” production strategy differ from other clothing companies? 
  2. How has Shein tried to recover its reputation with U.S. consumers? Do Continue reading
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November 29, 2023

The annual sales bonanza known as Black Friday now lasts for much longer than 24 hours, beginning in the days before Thanksgiving and continuing on through Cyber Monday. And while a record number of American consumers turned out at stores to check out this year’s bargains, they didn’t exactly spend a lot of money. According to data from the National Retail Federation, an estimated 200.4 million people shopped over the five days after Thanksgiving, amounting to more than 60 percent Continue reading

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October 27, 2023

From counter service restaurants to furniture stores, Americans are prompted to leave a tip for nearly every purchase they make. Along with looking at the history of tipping in the U.S., this video explains “price partitioning” and how it influences the ways that consumers view prices, showing that tipping is likely here to stay despite being consistently unpopular. 

Questions:

  1. What is price partitioning, and how does it influence consumers’ views on prices? 
  2. Do you think businesses should phase Continue reading
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October 18, 2023

Last year, we looked at how rising candy prices and increased enthusiasm for spooky season led Americans to spend big on Halloween. And by all accounts, it looks like 2023 will be no different: not only are consumers expected to buy lots of costumes and candy, but they will also pay more for the privilege. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, candy and chewing gum prices jumped by 7.7 percent from Continue reading

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October 6, 2023

Shoppers have two options when it comes to ringing up their items at the grocery store: pushing their cart to a cashier or opting for a self-checkout kiosk. The latter path became particularly popular during the pandemic when overwhelmed supermarkets sought to keep customers and employees at a distance. Store owners also figured that self-checkout stations would cut down on labor costs as shoppers did the scanning and bagging themselves. Walmart, for instance, retooled its cashier lanes to accommodate more Continue reading

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The parent company of T.J. Maxx earned more than $50 billion last year, more than Nordstrom and Macy’s combined. This video shows how the retailer lives up to its promise to give customers “the max for the minimum price” through ever-changing inventory and eye-catching deals. 

Questions:

  1. What is “price-anchoring,” and how does T.J. Maxx utilize it to drive sales? 
  2. Why does T.J. Maxx continuously restock its stores with new inventory?
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