business news in context, analysis with attitude

• New research from The Nielsen Company says that “consumers won’t be skimping on
supplies, despite widespread concerns about a pending recession. Nielsen forecasts 2.6 percent growth or more than $1.57 billion in school and office supply sales in U.S. grocery, drug and mass merchandiser stores during the core Back to School season of mid-July through early September. Back to School sales represent more than a quarter (28 percent) of the school and office supply category’s annual sales of $5.5 billion.”

Nielsen also projects that supermarkets could be a big winner in this back-to-school season, as customers with money worries look for one-stop-shopping options. And, Nielsen suggests, a lot of parents will wait for end-of-season sales to buy their back-to-school supplies, hoping to cash in on deals whenever possible.

• Supervalu-owned Shaws Supermarkets announced that a new five-year contract covering 5,200 employees working in its southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island stores has been ratified by the union membership.

• Ralcorp Holdings announced this week that it has completed its $2.6 billion acquisition of Kraft Foods’ Post cereals business.

China Daily reports that Starbucks, while it has announced plans to close more than 600 stores in the US and Australia, still plans to expand its Chinese operations – where it already has more than 102 cafés in Shanghai and has made aggressive opening moves in the central part of the country.

"China is now the fourth largest market of Starbucks outside the US, following Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom," said Li Jing, Starbucks' public manager in Greater China, adding that the company aimed to extend its expansion into more second and third-tier cities in China later this year.

KC's View: